Integrated Reasoning: Two-Part Analysis Example Problem #3

Example ProblemsStarting June 5, 2012, the GMAT contains a new section called Integrated Reasoning.  This 30-minute section has 12 questions of four different types: two-part analysis, multisource reasoning, table analysis, and graphics interpretation.  Below is a sample problem and solution from the TestMasters Integrated Reasoning question bank.  Check back soon for more sample problems and solutions!

PROBLEM:

Giordano Bruno, the Renaissance philosopher, must have been a spy for England during the time he served in the French embassy there.  English state records show that a spy who foiled at least two assassination plots against Queen Elizabeth of England was in place in the French embassy in London at that time. Since the spy is identified in confidential English state documents only as “the only clergyman working at the French embassy” at that time, Bruno must have been the spy: Bruno had been ordained a member of the clergy long before he started work at the French embassy.

Based on the information above, which of the statements below would help most strengthen the argument and which would most weaken it.  Make only two selections, one in each column.

Strengthen

Weaken

The French ambassador at the time was a man who trusted Bruno implicitly, often defending himself from the criticisms of others on the embassy staff

Long before his employment at the embassy, Bruno had been excommunicated from his church and thereafter neither dressed nor functioned as a member of the clergy.

Several years after his embassy service ended, Bruno was condemned for his philosophical ideas by the pope, who was at that time generally hostile to England and sympathetic to France.

The period of Bruno’s tenure at the French embassy corresponds exactly to the period during which, according to English records, the spy was transmitting information

English records show that the spy sometimes transmitted information to the English government in French, which was not the language Bruno knew best

SOLUTION:

Question type! Two-Part Analysis

Tip! Identify what type of two-part analysis question you are answering!

Nearly all of the two-part analysis questions are similar to question types found throughout the GMAT.  Once you have identified which question type the two-part analysis problem most resembles, you can employ the same strategies to solve it.

The question above is a critical reasoning question.  A normal critical reasoning question would give the same list of answer choices and ask either which statement below strengthens the argument or which statement below weakens the argument.  In this case, you are asked to identify both the statement that would strengthen the argument and the one that would weaken it.  Think about this problem like a double critical reasoning question: there is one statement that strengthens and one statement that weakens the argument and it is your job to identify both.

Tip! Many two-part analysis questions are simply critical reasoning questions, so apply the same strategies you would for those questions!

That first paragraph has all of the information you will need to answer the question, so make sure you read it carefully.  Pay close attention to how the argument in the paragraph is developed.  You need to identify the premises of the argument and the conclusion of the argument.

Tip! For critical reasoning questions that ask you to strengthen/weaken an argument, identify the premises of the argument and the conclusions drawn from these premises.

Here are our premises:
1.  English state records show that a spy who foiled at least 2 assassination plots against Queen Elizabeth of England was in place in the French embassy in London at that time.
2.  The spy is identified in confidential English state documents as “the only clergyman working at the French embassy” at that time
3.  Bruno had been ordained a member of the clergy long before he started work at the French embassy.

Here is our conclusion:
1.  Giordano Bruno, the Renaissance philosopher, must have been a spy for England during the time he served in the French embassy there.

Tip! Eliminate irrelevant statements that do not directly relate to the conclusion.  They can neither strengthen nor weaken the argument in question.

There are three irrelevant statements in the list above.  Can you find all three?

Statement 1: The French ambassador at the time was a man who trusted Bruno implicitly, often defending himself from the criticisms of others on the embassy staff.

A spy is a spy, regardless of whether someone trusts him.  The fact that the French ambassador trusted Bruno neither strengthens nor weakens the argument.

Statement 3:  Several years after his embassy service ended, Bruno was condemned for his philosophical ideas by the pope, who was at that time generally hostile to England and sympathetic to France.

Bruno’s philosophical ideas or lack thereof have nothing to do with his status as a spy.  Don’t be fooled by the next part of the statement that discusses England and France; the phrase “philosophical ideas” makes this statement irrelevant.

Statement 5:  English records show that the spy sometimes transmitted information to the English government in French, which was not the language Bruno knew best.

The important part of this statement is the phrase “not the language Bruno knew best.”  This phrase does not clearly state whether Bruno spoke French.  It simply states that Bruno did not know French as well as he knew other languages. French was “not the language Bruno knew best,” which could mean either that he did not speak very much French, or that he was very competent in French but not as fluent in French as he was in English. This is far too ambiguous a statement to either support or contradict the conclusion.  Since we do not know how well Bruno spoke French, the fact that the spy sometimes transmitted information in French can neither strengthen nor weaken the argument.

Now that we have eliminated three irrelevant statements, we can evaluate our remaining two statements to see whether they strengthen or weaken the argument at hand.

Tip! Two-part analysis questions are really two different but related question.  Answer the problem by tackling one question at a time.

Let’s start by identifying which statement would most weaken the argument above.

Tip! To weaken an argument, look for an answer that weakens the conclusion or attacks one of the  basic premises.

In this case, we’re looking for a statement that weakens the conclusion that Giordano Bruno was a spy for England during the time he served in the French embassy there.

Statement 2:  Long before his employment at the embassy, Bruno had been excommunicated from his church and thereafter neither dressed nor functioned as a member of the clergy.

The fact that Bruno was a member of the clergy is key to this argument.  One of the premises supporting the argument is that the spy was the only clergyman working at the French embassy.  If Bruno was excommunicated from the church long before his employment at the embassy, he could not have been a clergyman working at the French embassy.  This seriously weakens one of the premises of the argument.

Although Statement 2 looks pretty compelling as one that weakens the argument, remember to always review all of the statements before answering the question.

Tip! Always evaluate all the answer choices before selecting your final answer.

Statement 4:  The period of Bruno’s tenure at the French embassy corresponds exactly to the period during which, according to English records, the spy was transmitting information.

This statement certainly does not weaken the argument.  If Bruno’s tenure at the French embassy corresponds exactly to the period during which the spy was transmitting information, this would support the conclusion.  This statement does nothing to contradict the conclusion or attack the premises on which the conclusion is based, so it cannot weaken the argument.

Check the “weaken” box next to statement 2.

Now let’s evaluate which statement would strengthen the argument.  Since we have already evaluated the other arguments, by process of elimination we know the answer should be statement 4: The period of Bruno’s tenure at the French embassy corresponds exactly to the period during which, according to English records, the spy was transmitting information.

Tip! To strengthen an argument, look for statements that strengthen the conclusion.

If the dates Bruno was at the French embassy correspond exactly to the times that the spy was transmitting information, this would give the argument yet another premise to support the conclusion that Bruno was a spy.  This would be another piece of information that gives further information that supports the conclusion.

Check the “strengthen” box next to statement 4.

Your final answer should look like this:

Strengthen

Weaken

The French ambassador at the time was a man who trusted Bruno implicitly, often defending himself from the criticisms of others on the embassy staff

x

Long before his employment at the embassy, Bruno had been excommunicated from his church and thereafter neither dressed nor functioned as a member of the clergy.

Several years after his embassy service ended, Bruno was condemned for his philosophical ideas by the pope, who was at that time generally hostile to England and sympathetic to France.

x

The period of Bruno’s tenure at the French embassy corresponds exactly to the period during which, according to English records, the spy was transmitting information

English records show that the spy sometimes transmitted information to the English government in French, which was not the language Bruno knew best

Need more practice? Still worried about the Integrated Reasoning section or the GMAT in general?  Contact TestMasters for GMAT classes and private tutoring specialized for the new Integrated Reasoning section!

Looking for Integrated Reasoning practice? Check out the links below!

Table Analysis Example Problem #1

Table Analysis Example Problem #2

Table Analysis Example Problem #3

Multi-Source Reasoning Example Problem #1

Multi-Source Reasoning Example Problem #2

Two-Part Analysis Example Problem #1

Two-Part Analysis Example Problem #2

Graphics Interpretation Example Problem #1

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