Automatic Conclusion on Plan Questions

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This tip for improving your GMAT score was provided by David Newland at Veritas Prep.

One of the major types of Critical Reasoning Questions on the GMAT is the “Plan” Question. A Plan question features a PLAN and a GOAL, rather than the premises and conclusion found in most critical reasoning questions.

Test takers are rightfully taught to seek out the conclusion in the stimulus, and this technique usually pays off, but in the case of the plan type of question this can leave students wondering, “Why is there no conclusion?” The reason that there is no conclusion is you bring the conclusion with you.

The automatic conclusion to apply to any plan question is: “The plan will achieve the goal.” Simply fill in what the PLAN is and what the GOAL is and you are ready for the answer choices.

For a strengthen question, use the conclusion just as written above; for a weaken question, the automatic conclusion becomes: “The plan will NOT achieve the goal.” For an inference plan question in which you are asked to choose the plan, the conclusion becomes “the plan [the correct answer choice] will achieve the goal.” If you focus on the PLAN and the GOAL, these questions become much more understandable.

Try the following question from the Official Guide to the GMAT Verbal Review. Be sure to identify the plan and the goal and use the automatic conclusion on this question.
“Vitacorp, a manufacturer, wishes to make its information booth at an industry convention more productive in terms of boosting sales. The booth offers information introducing the company’s new products and services. To achieve the desired result, Vitacorp’s marketing department will attempt to attract more people to the booth. The marketing director’s first measure was to instruct each salesperson to call his or her five best customers and personally invite them to visit the booth.

Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports the prediction that the marketing director’s first measure will contribute to meeting the goal of boosting sales?

(A) Vitacorp’s salespeople routinely inform each important customer about new products and services as soon as the decision to launch them has been made.
(B) Many of Vitacorp’s competitors have made plans for making their own information booths more productive in increasing sales.
(C) An information booth that is well-attended tends to attract visitors who would not otherwise have attended the booth.
(D) Most of Vitacorp’s best customers also have business dealings with Vitacorp’s competitors.
(E) Vitacorp has fewer new products and services available this year than it had in previous years.”

The GOAL is to make the information booth more productive in boosting sales; the PLAN is for each salesperson to invite his or her five best customers to the booth.

Your job is to show that the PLAN will achieve the GOAL. In other words, which answer choice indicates that taking this action will achieve this goal?

In this case, the action of inviting the best customers will result in a well-visited booth. Since the people invited are already the best customers, they may not necessarily buy more from Vitacorp, but answer choice C connects this to the GOAL. Choice C states “An information booth that is well attended tends to attract visitors who would not otherwise have attended the booth.” So a well-populated booth results in more attention and (presumably) more sales. By using the framework of the plan and the conclusion, this question becomes more accessible. The other answer choices are quickly eliminated as they do not show that the PLAN will achieve the GOAL of boosting sales.

Focus on the Plan and the Goal and use the automatic conclusion to reach your goal of answering plan questions correctly!

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