By far, the most common GRE Paragraph Argument question types are: Weaken/Strengthen, Evaluate Argument, Paradox, Assumption. Those question types appear below.
The Malbec grape, originally grown in France, has become the main varietal in Argentina. This is surprising because most Malbec grown in Argentina is grown at high altitudes, whereas the Malbec grape once was grown at low altitudes. Therefore, Argentinian winegrowers should grow the Malbec grape at low elevations.
Which of the following, if true, would most weaken the conclusion of the argument?
Select the answer.
A) The Bordeaux grape is the most popular grape in France but is rarely, if ever, grown in Argentina.
B) Some varietals are unable to grow at high altitudes.
C) The soil at high altitudes is filled with nutrients that help the Malbec grape grow.
D) The Malbec vine is susceptible to phylloxera, a plant louse that only grows at low altitudes.
E) Malbec has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity, and can be found in many different countries.
Answer: Here we have a great reason why the Malbec grape cannot be grown at low altitudes: The phylloxera will destroy the grape.
Downtown Greensborough is a major financial center, in which many citizens either drive or rely on public transportation to get to work. This setup has led up to a spate in the number of pedestrians who have been struck and killed by vehicles. In an effort to curb the number of pedestrian-related fatalities, Greensborough has installed speed reduction signs at the six city intersections in which the highest numbers of fatalities have occurred in the last year. The Greensborough city government predicts that the number of pedestrian fatalities will significantly decrease once the speed reduction signs have been installed.
Which of the following, if true, most strengthens the validity of the conclusion?
Select the answer.
A) Some of those who drive to work in downtown Greensborough have a valid driver’s license.
B) The number of annual pedestrian fatalities outside the downtown area is far less than in the downtown area.
C) The six intersections in which the signs are installed are responsible for a majority of pedestrian deaths in downtown Greensborough.
D) The new speed reduction signs will be in neon orange and prominently placed.
E) Red light cameras, which are used to catch motorists running red lights, were installed yet the number of pedestrian fatalities did not decrease.
In this case, what the test writers are doing is anticipating a possible weakness in the argument. Essentially, they are defusing a potential objection by showing how that objection is no longer valid. For example, if someone said, “hey your argument has a gap in it because it is only based on six intersections, which isn’t the same as the entire downtown area.” The correct answer, (C), retorts, “Well, most of pedestrian deaths happen at those six intersections.”
The Green Peas Grocery Store in the remote wealthy enclave of Luxville charges more than the Green Peas Grocery Store in Oak City charges for the same items. Clearly, on any given item, the Green Peas grocery franchise is taking advantage of its location in Luxville to reap higher profits on that item.
In evaluating the argument, it would be most useful to compare
Select the answer.
A) the selection of specialty items in the Oak City location with the selection of specialty items in the Luxville location.
B) the cost of transporting merchandise to the Oak City location with the comparable cost to the Luxville location.
C) the average cost of the same or comparable items at other grocery stores in Oak City with the average cost at other stores in Luxville.
D) the percent of average household income spent on groceries in Oak City with the comparable percentage in Luxville.
E) the cost of these items in Oak City and in Luxville with the cost at other Green Peas stores throughout the state.
What we want to explain are the higher prices, for the same items, in Luxville. The argument takes a firm stand: the Luxville store is just taking advantage of its location. Implicitly, the author is saying: the Luxville store has no valid reason for charging high prices. If there were a valid reason, that would call this entire argument into question.
(B) is the credited answer. If Luxville remote, transportation to that location could be an issue, and if the additional transportation needs adds an extra cost, this would be a valid reason for charging more in the Luxville store. It would call the argument into question.