You can think of critical reasoning questions as, essentially,
mini reading comprehension questions. These questions
tend to follow passages that are one paragraph in length. These questions
primarily test the analytical and critical thinking
skills that admissions committees so badly want to
see in their applicants.
A college course in logic may help you with
these questions, but it is certainly not a necessity.
Many individuals who never took logic as undergrads have scored 750 or
higher on the GMAT. With some preparation, you too can learn to think logically
and ace these GMAT questions.
A nice added benefit to preparing
yourself for critical reasoning
GMAT CAT questions is that this preparation will also
help you in
your business school studies. Many of the same techniques
used to answer these test questions will
come in handy when you are asked to do case
analyses. (This should be an extra incentive for those
of you intent on pursuing consulting careers.)
Types of Critical
Critical reasoning questions will
ask you to:
- Strengthen an argument.
- Weaken an argument.
- Identify a parallel argument.
- Identify the assumption.
- Identify the inference.
- Select the best conclusion.
Approach to Critical Reasoning Questions
the question before reading the passage. Know
what you should be looking for before you begin reading the passage.
You will want to approach the same passage a little
bit differently, depending on whether you are
asked to destroy an argument,
or to find the best conclusion to the passage. Also
– and we feel we can not say this enough – read the
questions carefully. The test makers will deliberately include
answer choices that give 'right' answers to wrong questions.
2.) Identify the passage's
assumptions and conclusion. This can be tricky.
GMAT passages do not always present their
conclusions in their final sentences. Sometimes they
imply, rather than state, their conclusions. This is a great illustration of where our
general tip of "practice, practice, practice" will
come in handy. Look for these patterns:
A paragraph may start off with its conclusion
in the first sentence,
give several sentences to support that conclusion.
This means you will not be able to look for
transition words such as "consequently", "hence",
and "as a result" that are commonly used to
An assumption is
the passage's "must
have." In other words, if the assumption is not
true, it follows that the conclusion is not true. We have a simple
method for identifying assumptions. Read each sentence
in the passage individually, and then ask yourself if
the conclusion would still be true if this one sentence
to guess the correct answer before you even read the
answer choices. Often
your hunch will be correct. This will help you
on selecting the best answer.
every answer choice.
Don't settle for choosing the first one that seems right to you. You
may find another answer choice that is even better than
the one you initially selected. Eliminate the ones
you know are wrong. Carefully analyze the remaining
choices with a focus on identifying the one that
most relevant arguments and raises the most relevant issues.
Tips and Strategies
The most common type of critical
reasoning question asks you to weaken an
argument. The GMAT testers expect you to
be able to
identify one of the following 4 logic flaws:
- Circular reasoning
- Inaccurate cause-and-effect arguments
- Sweeping generalizations
- Unqualified "expert" opinions
These tips and strategies can help you answer these
1. Utilize process of elimination.
When the test
taker is asked to identify the statement that does the
best job of strengthening or weakening an argument,
there is almost always at least one answer choice that
will do the opposite. If you have
read the question carefully, you will be able to quickly
eliminate these choices.
2. Become comfortable at "working backwards" on
these questions. "Working
backwards" – inserting each answer choice into the text
and and seeing if the passage still makes sense – is an
excellent technique to fall back on if you get stuck on
a critical reasoning question. However, it can be time
consuming. You may need to re-read a passage 5 times,
inserting a different answer choice each time, before
you find the choice that seems right to you.
3. Never choose an answer simply because it is true. The
answer choice must be a logical extension of the
argument made in the passage.
4. Ignore decoys. Often
times, GMAT passages contain extraneous sentences
Learn to separate these decoys from the rest of the
passage so they won't distract you
from the content that is important.
5. Avoid answer choices
that are emotionally charged or 'over the top.' The
correct GMAT answer choices are always emotionally
neutral in tone, and moderate in reasoning.
6. Avoid answer choices that make absolute statements. Absolute statements
are those that use words such as "always" and "must."
The test writers are very biased against these types
of statements. Hence, when you encounter an answer
choice that makes an absolute statement, you will know that it can
be safely eliminated.
here to review our critical reasoning practice questions.
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