A conclusion is the summing-up of an argument or text.
In conclusion questions, you will be given piece(s) of text with lots of information. You will then be asked to select the statement, which correctly identifies the conclusion of the text.
Like any other critical thinking question, it is important that you read the question first instead of the text. This will save you loads of time and allow you to obtain the correct answer.
Usually (not always), the conclusion is the last line of the text. However, this is not necessary.
1) Look at the question to see what is asked of you but do not look at the options provided.
2) Skim through the text to get an idea of what the text is saying.
3) Try and arrive at an answer in your head without looking at the options. By not looking at the options first and coming up with your answer, you are able to clear any confusion that you may have between twooptions.
4) Then look at the options and eliminate those, which are either irrelevant or completely incorrect.
5) If you successfully managed to eliminate all options but one, then the one remaining should be the answer.
6) If you are confused between two options, just quickly skim through the text again and look for relevant, keywords, which may be in one option but not in the other.
A rocky planet, whose mass is three times that of Earth’s, could be the first ever to be found outside our solar system, with the potential to support human life. Lying in the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ of the Milky Way, twenty light years away, the planet is said to have gravity similar to Earth and could well be capable of supporting life. The Goldilocks Zone is a region in space where surface temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to form oceans and rivers. The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common. The number of systems with potentially habitable planets is probably in the order of 15 or 20 per cent. There could be tens of billions of these systems in our galaxy.
Which one of the following statements gives the conclusion of the above argument?
A – For planets to be capable of supporting life, liquid water must be able to form water bodies.
B – 15 or 20 per cent of systems have potentially habitable planets.
C – There are tens of billions of systems with habitable planets in our galaxy.
D – Planets that can potentially support human life are really common.
Try solving this question on your own first using the method mentioned above. Make sure and time yourself! Ideally, you should be spending 1 minute 30 seconds on each question. (I know it is 1 minute 42 seconds but try and do it as quickly as possible).
In this question, it is easy to be confused between 3 options: B, C and D.
A – suggests that liquid water must form water bodies to support life. The word ‘must’ is too strong in this case and plus, this is not a sufficient condition to support life. So we can easily eliminate A.
C – is the next easiest to eliminate. The last sentence of the passage says, “There could be tens of billions of these systems in our galaxy.” However, option E says, “there are tens of billions of these systems with habitable planets in our galaxy.” The key words here were ‘could’ and ‘are’, which made all the difference.
B – is wrong too because “is probably in the order of 15 or 20 per cent” is different from “15 or 20 per cent of systems have”. Again, keywords make the difference again.
Therefore, D is the answer.
I can go through more examples but it would just mean that I would have to use past paper questions as examples. It would be much better if you have a go at past papers yourself under exam conditions. Practice is key!
If you get any questions wrong and would like to know why the correct answer is correct, you can check out our Past Paper Worked Solutions.