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How to Approach GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions

Written by Kelly Granson. Posted in GMAT Study Tips

GMAT Critical Reasoning questions may seem a bit tricky to those not familiar with rules of formal logic, but keeping in mind the following several advices will make GMAT Critical Reasoning questions much easier.

• Read the question stem first. When you see a Critical Reasoning question, first read the question stem and only then start reading the argument. If you read the question stem first, then when reading the argument you are already aware of what specific information you have to look for. For example, if the question stem asks you to identify the flaw in the argument, then while reading the argument you will be looking for reasoning errors; if the questions asks you to draw a conclusion, then you will pay extra attention to what information (evidence) you have in the argument, and so on.
• Read the argument carefully. Unlike large Reading Comprehension questions, GMAT Critical Reasoning arguments are comparatively short, 30-120 words, and you should pay attention to every detail. The difference between the correct and the wrong answer can be in a subtle detail or a single word. Make sure you understand all statements provided by the argument. Evaluate evidence presented in the argument as it is written; if the argument states that It is possible to increase sales of product X, it does not mean that sales of product X will or should be increased, all it means is that it is possible to increase sales of product X.
• Try to predict the correct answer. It is good to have an idea of what the correct answer choice should look like before reading and evaluating answer choices. If one of the answer choices repeats your prediction or rephrases it, then the chances are that it is the correct one.
• Read all answer choices. When reading answer choices in Critical Reasoning questions start from the first choice and read them one by one. If you think that the first choice does the trick, still read the remaining choices, there can be an answer choice that is even better. Remember to look for the BEST answer choice. So if you see an answer choice which seems correct to you, it means it is the best one so far, but there can still possibly be a better answer to come.
• Extreme and quantity words. When reading the argument and answer choices pay extra attention to quantity words. If the evidence is about SOME people, we cannot conclude about ALL people. If you choose an answer choice and you see that it contains an extreme word, make sure that the use of this word is logical. In GMAT Critical Reasoning questions extreme and quantity words often make the difference between the correct and incorrect answer choice.
• Consider all information provided in the argument. Critical Reasoning arguments are rather short, 30-120 words, and most information provided is vital. Even if a certain piece of information provided in the argument seems unnecessary or not related to other evidence, still consider it, as it is likely that all information provided is important. Treat information provided in arguments as true, even if your own experience tells you that it is not. For example, if one of the premises states that gas prices have been decreasing over the last year and you know that they have not, when evaluating the argument you have to act as if those prices were increasing.

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