Lesson - Critical Reading Skill: Evaluating Support

Evaluating Support

Writers construct arguments by making claims and providing support.  Readers need to apply critical reasoning skills to determine whether or not arguments are adequately supported.

Consider the following means of support:

  • provide an explanation
  • propose a solution
  • provide evidence
  • give an example
  • describe in further detail
  • state a conclusion
  • make a logical inference
  • define the problem
  • analyze the situation
  • state an effect or consequence

In addition, some sentences are related, but do not necessarily provide further support for claims made.  They may give opposing or redundant information.  Consider the following sentence relationships as well:

  • state a contradiction
  • provide an opposing point of view
  • make a comparison
  • restate the original point
  • provide emphasis
  • create an ambiguity

Critical readers assess the relationship between sentences -- whether they adequately support, refute or contradict other points.   By determining the connections between sentences and ideas, readers are better equipped to evaluate the credibility of an author's argument and thesis.



Read each pair of sentences and answer the question that follows.


  • When Mark doesn't get his coffee right away he can become very short-tempered.

  • Mark has a coffee maker that can be programmed automatically to finish brewing before he wakes up.

How are these two sentences related?

A)  The first sentence explains the meaning of the second.
B)  The second sentence explains how coffee affects Mark.
C)  The second sentence contradicts the first.
D)  The second sentence proposes a solution.


  • The new Breckenridge Sunset album has proved to be very popular.

  • Consumers downloaded 50,000 copies over the last year.

How are these two sentences related?

A)  The first sentence explains the meaning of the second.
B)  The second sentence explains why the CD is popular.
C)  The second sentence provides evidence of the first.
D)  The first sentence contradicts the second.


  • The graduation party was more expensive than the family had anticipated.

  • Their original plans had not taken into account the number of friends that planned on attending.

In relation to the first sentence, what does the second sentence do?

A)  It provides contrasting information.
B)  It draws the most logical inference.
C)  It supports it by giving a reason.
D)  It defines a problem.


  • Not reporting income on a federal tax return is a criminal act.

  • It is a crime to knowingly leave off income received in cash when completing a tax form.

What does the second statement do?

A)  It provides supporting evidence for the first statement.
B)  It draws a conclusion from the first sentence.
C)  It restates the central idea of the first sentence.
D)  It provides a contradictory point of view.


  • The demand for organic produce is a cultural phenomenon booming into a multimillion-dollar-a-year business.

  • The media's constant coverage of healthy eating, growing environmental concerns, and the increase of high-profile food celebrities promoting high-end ingredients keep organically produced food in demand.

What does the second sentence do in relation to the first?

A)  It analyzes the first.
B)  It contradicts the first.
C)  It gives an example of the first.
D)  It restates the meaning of the first.



Answer Key

1. The correct choice is D.

It proposes a solution.

2. The correct choice is C.

Evidence is provided.

3. The correct choice is C.

The second sentence supports the first by giving a reason. The family had underestimated the number of people they would need to invite and therefore the party was more expensive than they had planned.

4. The correct choice is C.

The second statement states the main idea of the first.

5. The correct choice is A.

The second sentence analyzes the first sentence.