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GMAT Critical Reasoning

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Read first, identify your boundaries second, and only then reason!

Remember our discussion of subject "boundaries" in the AWA section above? Both Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension constantly ask test-takers to locate and respect the boundaries set by a text. In a Critical Reasoning question, the very first boundary is the question stem itself.

Memorize this - an Assumption is the unstated but necessary logical link between an author's conclusion and evidence.

Now, let's look at a sample question:

The pharmaceutical industry argues that because new drugs will not be developed unless heavy development costs can be recouped in later sales, the current 20 years of protection provided by patents should be extended in the case of newly developed drugs. However, in other industries new-product development continues despite high development costs, a fact that indicates that the extension is unnecessary.

Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports the pharmaceutical industry's argument against the challenge made above?
(A) No industries other than the pharmaceutical industry have asked for an extension of the 20-year limit on patent protection.
(B) Clinical trials of new drugs, which occur after the patent is granted and before the new drug can be marketed, often now take as long as 10 years to complete.
(C) There are several industries in which the ratio of research and development costs to revenues is higher than it is in the pharmaceutical industry.
(D) An existing patent for a drug does not legally prevent pharmaceutical companies from bringing to market alternative drugs, provided they are sufficiently dissimilar to the patented drug.
(E) Much recent industrial innovation has occurred in products---for example, in the computer and electronics industries---for which patent protection is often very ineffective.

The pharmaceutical industry’s argument is best supported by an explanation of why the patent period sufficient for other industries to recoup their development costs is insufficient for the pharmaceutical industry. Choice B is the best answer because it provides an explanation: required clinical trials prevent new drugs from being sold for much of the time they receive patent protection.

Choice A is incorrect: the fact that the pharmaceutical industry’s request is unique does nothing to justify that request. Choice C and E, if true, could undermine the pharmaceutical industry’s argument, so they are incorrect. Choice D indicates that alternative drugs might render patent protection worthless, but that is clearly no reason to extend the protection.

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