Lesson - More Practice With the "Analyze an Argument" Task

GRE Critical Reading: Analyze an Argument

A conclusion cannot be accepted as sound unless the reasoning that supports it is logical and strong.  On the GRE, the conclusion in the sample argument is rarely acceptable because the argument that supports it needs to be revised.

The 4 terms below give you some key ways to analyze an argument:





What does the author of this passage need to do in order to strengthen his/her argument?

     To avoid head injuries (TBI), all games of tackle football should be changed to flag football.  Critics argue that no one would be able to take the game seriously, but changing a game of brute force to a game of strategy and athletic prowess will only make it more of a sport.  The switch to flags will also benefit both the players and team owners since it will significantly reduce the number of players who develop long-term or degenerative brain injuries.  That welcome change can prolong a player's career and life.  In doing so, teams will also save money on disability insurance.  Over the past few years, physicians and researchers have discovered how destructive tackle football can be.  A recent New York Times article cited one of these studies: Researchers from Boston University examined the brains of deceased people who had been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries: "Of the group of 85 people, 80 percent (68 men) -- nearly all of whom played sports -- showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E." (Belson, 2012).   55 of the males with C.T.E. were tackle football players.  Instead of training to become a human blockade for someone, the new players will need to be both strong and agile.  That goal will reduce obesity and promote healthier lifestyles among players and their fans.  Flag football would even be more of a crowd pleaser than tackle football since each team would have unique flags that would make excellent souvenirs and promote audience interaction if a fan were chosen to carry the flag out before his/her team.  No matter what, playing it safe with flags will require more skill from the players and give fans more ways to contribute to their teams.
[Reference: Belson, K. (2012, December 3). "Study Bolsters Link Between Routine Hits and Brain Disease."  The New York Times.  Retrieved from www.nytimes.com.]


I.  Assumptions: Beliefs that the writer sees as accepted truths, but many need to be proven

    In this passage, does the author believe something that still needs to be proven?
  • Head injuries only occur when one player is tackling another.
  • Blocking an opponent is not an example of athletic prowess.

II.  Alternative Explanations: Other plausible causes of -- or reasons for -- an event

  • Football is more popular than the other sports that were studied, so it is no surprise that the majority of injured athletes played football. 

III.  Counterexamples:  Facts or hypothetical examples that refute a claim that the author makes
  • Flag Football will not necessarily reduce injuries. For example, heads can still clash when one player defends the flag while an opponent reaches for it.

IV.  Evaluate Support:  See if the author's evidence strongly supports the claim.
  • According to this study, playing in other sports is also dangerous.  
  • Author only quotes one article; he/she needs a variety of sources.