A Note on Question Format
In addition to the straightforward multiple-choice format shown in the examples above, there are some additional formats that you may encounter on the GMAT. The logical relationships tested will be the same ones listed above. However, the question stems may vary slightly. The most common variations are completion, and EXCEPT.
A completion question can be a conclusion, assumption, or any other of the question types previously mentioned. It simply includes a blank that must be filled in by the correct answer choice.
Which of the following best completes the passage below?
In a survey of high school students, three-fifths admitted to being at least somewhat dishonest. However, the survey may underestimate the proportion of students who are dishonest, because __________.
- some dishonest students taking the survey might have claimed to be honest on the survey
- some generally honest students taking the survey might have claimed on the survey to be dishonest
- some students who claimed on the survey to be at least a little dishonest may be very dishonest
- some students who claimed on the survey to be dishonest may have been answering honestly
- some people who are not high school students are probably at least somewhat dishonest
The correct answer, A, properly completes the passage because it provides a missing piece of evidence. So, this is actually just an assumption question with a bit of a format twist.
Similarly, an EXCEPT question will generally be one of the types discussed previously. However, the question stem will force you to use the process of elimination because you have to find the one choice that does not weaken, strengthen, and so on, the argument. For example:
The beer industry is still very profitable and the projections are that it will remain so. In the United States this year, the total amount of beer sold by breweries has increased, even though the number of adults who drink beer has decreased.
Each of the following, if true, could explain the simultaneous increase in beer sales and decrease in the number of adults who drink beer EXCEPT:
- During this year, the number of women who have begun to drink beer is greater than the number of men who have quit drinking beer.
- The number of underage people who have begun to drink beer is greater than the number of adults who have quit drinking beer during the same period.
- During this year, the number of nondrinkers who have begun to drink beer is greater than the number of people who have quit drinking beer.
- The people who have continued to drink beer consume more beer per person than they have in the past.
- More of the beer made in the United States this year was exported to other countries than was the case last year.
The correct answer, A, is actually an irrelevant fact. In this case, the test makers framed the question in such a way that you are forced to choose the answer that has no bearing on the argument. Because the statistics refer to the number of adults who drink beer, without regard to sex, the fact that there has been a shift in the balance between male beer drinkers and female beer drinkers has no effect on the apparent conflict. Each of the other statements would help to explain the discrepancy. This question is just a paradox question with a formatting twist.