Try this practice Critical Reasoning question from Kaplan!
Recent surveys show that many people who have left medical school before graduating suffer from depression. Clearly, depression is likely to cause withdrawal from medical school.
Which of the following if true would most strengthen the conclusion above?
A.) Many Medical schools provide psychological counseling for their students
B.) About half of those who leave medical school report feeling depressed after they make the decision to leave.
C.) Depression is very common among management consultants who have a similar difficult work schedule to those of many young doctors.
D.) Medical students who have sought depression counseling due to family problems leave at a higher rate than the national average
E.) Career change has been shown to be a strong contributing factor in the onset of depression.
Here’s how I broke down this argument:
Conclusion – Depression causes withdrawal from school.
Evidence – Surveys show students who did not graduate have depression.
Assumption – That depression is the cause NOT a symptom; that the surveys are accurate, etc.
Question Rephrase: What makes the conclusion stronger?
Prediction: If there is proof the students were depressed BEFORE they left school. The correct answer must support depression as the cause.
(A) – Whether or not schools provide counseling is irrelevant.
(B) – This WEAKENS the argument, showing depression as a potential symptom.
(C) – Management consultants is without the scope of the argument.
(D) – This SUPPORTS the idea that the depression came BEFORE they left school. If more students who sought depression counseling leave, then they are probably leaving because of their depression. Therefore our author is correct to say that depression causes withdrawal from school.
(E) – This WEAKENS the argument. If the students are depressed because they left school, then the depression is a symptom and not a cause.
Takeaway: The trick is to relate the answer choices back to the Conclusion. Simply being a logical inference is not enough with CR.