Are you already working your mind up about preparing for the GMAT?
I’m sure the most important aspect of GMAT that is worrying you is the Critical Reasoning questions.
Yes! The most important part of GMAT preparation is working practice problems.
You need to practice the thinking patterns that are likely to appear in the critical reasoning questions on the GMAT.
GMAT Critical Reasoning Tips and Tricks
Critical Reasoning (CR) requires a very logical thinking approach and comprise of almost one-third of all the questions in the verbal section of GMAT.
You need to have a very precise understanding of the structure of the arguments, or else it is likely that you may miss out or misunderstand and reduce your chances of solving it right.
I always tell my students that before you start reading the CR argument/premises, read the question carefully first, so that you know the type of answer expected from you.
Once you are done, the first important trick here is to identify the missing premises, and eliminate the unnecessary words out of the argument.
Focus on the conclusion that lies on certain premises, which might be hidden in the question itself, or any hint word, or in a subjective outlook of the author.
You may notice that the major challenge lies in the complexity of the language. Hence, try and paraphrase the premises and conclusion in simple words.
You can make diagrams, use symbols and abbreviations so that you waste less time rereading the whole argument.
GMAT Critical Reasoning Question Types
Now, only telling you to understand the type of question first doesn’t suffice, right?
So, let’s try to understand more in detail about the Question Types.
As mentioned earlier, it is very important to first identify the type of question, as it will save you a lot of time, and help you reduce errors.
Below mentioned are the 6 major types of CR questions, and the keywords that will help you identify each of them.
(1) Explanation questions: These questions will have keywords such as resolve, explain, paradox, reconcile, discrepancy, harmonize.
(2) Support/strengthen-the-argument questions: You need to look for keywords like support, credibility, strengthen, and similar such words.
Here, you are required to provide an answer that adds to the missing premise and supports the passage’s reasoning or conclusion.
(3) Oppose/weaken-the-argument questions: The common keywords for this type of questions are undermine, doubt, nullifies, weaken.
You need to provide the answer that shows opposition to the author’s conclusion.
(4) Assumption questions: If you come across words like assumption, based on, rely, dependent on, you are most likely dealing with a critical reasoning assumption question.
Your answer must highlight that the argument is based on unnecessary assumptions.
(5) Logic patterns: Though there are no clear keywords for this, you can look for words like similar, parallel, and carefully try to understand the logical structure of argument.
Your answer will also contain the same logical structure.
(6) Analyze the passage questions: Here again, you may not be able to spot exact keywords, but you need to look at the implied inference as these questions ask you to choose a true answer based on the central point of the stimulus in the passage.
GMAT Critical Reasoning Strategies
Now that you know the different types of questions that you would be expected to deal with, I’m sure you are looking for strategies that will enable you to master the art of solving these critical reasoning questions in more detail.
So, without wasting time read further, and whiz through the tricks quickly.
Apparently the first thing that you are tempted to do is read the argument, and this can be one major reason you might not get through.
Like I stated before, the first thing that you must do is to read and identify the type of the question.
Apart from looking for the keywords that will help you identify the type, you can divide the question into 3 categories: (a) Basic (b) Clue and (c) Conclusion.
This will help you to correctly identify the type of the question, and thus enable you to focus on the answer expected.
Once you have identified the type of question, you must know what you have to do so that you can answer that question.
For this, irrespective of the type of question, you need to make sure that you are able to answer these four questions:
1) What information you need to find for this type of CR question?
2) What analysis you need to do on that information?
3) What characteristics you should expect of the right answer?
4) What characteristics you should expect of the wrong answer?
The last important part of strategy is to anticipate the traps, any logical fallacies, or missing premises to get a clear picture of the argument.
While practicing, you need to consciously make note of your mistake pattern, so that you can avoid them by setting up a process.
To sum it up, you need to know your terminology, take time to sort the meaning of different parts of the CR argument, have a clear differentiation between conclusion and causation, do not be tempted with opposite answer choices, and be thorough with the most frequently used methodology of reasoning.
Suggested: Read more about GMAT Prep
GMAT Critical Reasoning Practice Test
Critical Reasoning Questions cover a wide range of topics and situations, aiming to test your logical reasoning ability.
Though you may not be very familiar with the subject area, you are required to focus on evaluating the piece of reasoning rather than knowing the formal logic.
Keep in mind that effective time management is the most essential GMAT skill. Always remember to keep track of time by maintaining a time-log while practicing.
I always make my students practice thoroughly so that they do not spend more than 2 minutes / max 2.5 minutes on a particular critical reasoning question.
Take approximately 30 seconds to identify the premises, and a few more seconds to reassure your understanding of the conclusion.
Take approximately 30 seconds to think through the type of question, and what the correct answer might be.
Utilize the last 30 seconds of your quota for each question, to read the answer options, and in selecting the best answer.
Hope this article has given you much clarity on tips and strategies to deal with Critical Reasoning Questions for GMAT.
Please feel free to reply and ask for any more queries you need to address.
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