GMAT CAT Critical Reasoning GMAT Notes | EduRev

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GMAT : GMAT CAT Critical Reasoning GMAT Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


 
Personal 
GMAT CAT Critical Reasoning 
Introduction 
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 Reasoning Questions 
Critical reasoning questions will ask you to: 
1. Strengthen an argument.  
2. Weaken an argument.  
3. Identify a parallel argument.  
4. Identify the assumption.  
5. Identify the inference.  
6. Select the best conclusion.  
Our Preferred Approach to Critical Reasoning Questions 
1.)  Read 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, and then 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 indicate the 
conclusion. 
Page 2


 
Personal 
GMAT CAT Critical Reasoning 
Introduction 
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 Reasoning Questions 
Critical reasoning questions will ask you to: 
1. Strengthen an argument.  
2. Weaken an argument.  
3. Identify a parallel argument.  
4. Identify the assumption.  
5. Identify the inference.  
6. Select the best conclusion.  
Our Preferred Approach to Critical Reasoning Questions 
1.)  Read 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, and then 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 indicate the 
conclusion. 
 
Personal 
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 was incorrect. 
3.)  Try to guess the correct answer before you even read the answer choices.  Often your 
hunch will be correct. This will help you focus on selecting the best answer. 
4.)  Read 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 presents the most relevant arguments and raises the most relevant issues. 
Critical Reasoning 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: 
1. Circular reasoning  
2. Inaccurate cause-and-effect arguments  
3. Sweeping generalizations  
4. Unqualified "expert" opinions  
These tips and strategies can help you answer these questions correctly: 
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 and information. 
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 
Page 3


 
Personal 
GMAT CAT Critical Reasoning 
Introduction 
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 Reasoning Questions 
Critical reasoning questions will ask you to: 
1. Strengthen an argument.  
2. Weaken an argument.  
3. Identify a parallel argument.  
4. Identify the assumption.  
5. Identify the inference.  
6. Select the best conclusion.  
Our Preferred Approach to Critical Reasoning Questions 
1.)  Read 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, and then 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 indicate the 
conclusion. 
 
Personal 
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 was incorrect. 
3.)  Try to guess the correct answer before you even read the answer choices.  Often your 
hunch will be correct. This will help you focus on selecting the best answer. 
4.)  Read 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 presents the most relevant arguments and raises the most relevant issues. 
Critical Reasoning 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: 
1. Circular reasoning  
2. Inaccurate cause-and-effect arguments  
3. Sweeping generalizations  
4. Unqualified "expert" opinions  
These tips and strategies can help you answer these questions correctly: 
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 and information. 
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 
 
Personal 
statements. Hence, when you encounter an answer choice that makes an absolute statement, you 
will know that it can be safely eliminated. 
DENIAL TEST.  One of the types of critical reasoning questions you'll see on the GMAT is the 
assumption. An assumption bridges the gap between an argument's evidence and conclusion. It's a 
piece of support that isn't explicitly stated but that is required for the conclusion to remain valid. 
When a question asks you to find an author's assumption, it's asking you to find the statement 
without which the argument falls apart.  
 
In order to test whether a statement is necessarily assumed by an author, we can employ the 
Denial Test. Simply deny or negate the statement and see if the argument falls apart. If it does, 
that choice is a necessary assumption. If, on the other hand, the argument is unaffected, the choice 
is wrong.  
 
Consider the following example:  
Allyson plays volleyball for Central High School. Therefore, Allyson must be over six feet tall. 
 
 
You should recognize the second sentence as the conclusion and the first sentence as the evidence 
for it. But is the argument complete? Obviously not. The piece that's missing is the assumption, 
and you could probably rephrase this one pretty easily:  
All volleyball players for Central High School are over six feet tall. 
 
 
Now, let's use the Denial Test. What if it's not true that all volleyball players for Central High 
School are over six feet tall? Can we still logically conclude that Allyson must be taller than six 
feet? No, we can't. Sure, it's possible that she is, but it's also possible that she's not. By denying 
the statement, then, the argument falls to pieces; it's simply no longer valid. And that's our 
conclusive proof that the statement above is a necessary assumption of this argument. 
Critical Reasoning questions are one third of the Verbal section of the GMAT exam. These 
questions are designed to test one's logic and reasoning skills, particularly in evaluating 
arguments. The questions themselves could deal with almost any subject matter, and no 
familiarity with that subject matter is assumed or required.  
This tutorial aims to give you the tools to find the answer that ETS wnat you to find which is just 
what you need to raise your score. 
 
The GMAT's Critical Reasoning is intended to be an effective way of evaluating how people 
reason. However, the truth is that the logic in many of the questions is less than completely 
sound. There is definitely room for interpretation on many of these questions, judging from many 
examples taken from old GMAT tests. But there is little you can do about that - they make up the 
questions, they make up the rules. 
You could cry about it. Go ahead, have a good cry. We will wait. 
.......... 
Feel better? Good. Now let's take a look at how we can best this test to obtain the best score we 
possibly can. 
A Critical Reasoning Problem is comprised of three main parts: the text, the question, and the five 
answer choices. We will deal with the different types of questions later. 
 
Here's an example of a Critical Reasoning text: 
Page 4


 
Personal 
GMAT CAT Critical Reasoning 
Introduction 
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 Reasoning Questions 
Critical reasoning questions will ask you to: 
1. Strengthen an argument.  
2. Weaken an argument.  
3. Identify a parallel argument.  
4. Identify the assumption.  
5. Identify the inference.  
6. Select the best conclusion.  
Our Preferred Approach to Critical Reasoning Questions 
1.)  Read 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, and then 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 indicate the 
conclusion. 
 
Personal 
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 was incorrect. 
3.)  Try to guess the correct answer before you even read the answer choices.  Often your 
hunch will be correct. This will help you focus on selecting the best answer. 
4.)  Read 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 presents the most relevant arguments and raises the most relevant issues. 
Critical Reasoning 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: 
1. Circular reasoning  
2. Inaccurate cause-and-effect arguments  
3. Sweeping generalizations  
4. Unqualified "expert" opinions  
These tips and strategies can help you answer these questions correctly: 
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 and information. 
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 
 
Personal 
statements. Hence, when you encounter an answer choice that makes an absolute statement, you 
will know that it can be safely eliminated. 
DENIAL TEST.  One of the types of critical reasoning questions you'll see on the GMAT is the 
assumption. An assumption bridges the gap between an argument's evidence and conclusion. It's a 
piece of support that isn't explicitly stated but that is required for the conclusion to remain valid. 
When a question asks you to find an author's assumption, it's asking you to find the statement 
without which the argument falls apart.  
 
In order to test whether a statement is necessarily assumed by an author, we can employ the 
Denial Test. Simply deny or negate the statement and see if the argument falls apart. If it does, 
that choice is a necessary assumption. If, on the other hand, the argument is unaffected, the choice 
is wrong.  
 
Consider the following example:  
Allyson plays volleyball for Central High School. Therefore, Allyson must be over six feet tall. 
 
 
You should recognize the second sentence as the conclusion and the first sentence as the evidence 
for it. But is the argument complete? Obviously not. The piece that's missing is the assumption, 
and you could probably rephrase this one pretty easily:  
All volleyball players for Central High School are over six feet tall. 
 
 
Now, let's use the Denial Test. What if it's not true that all volleyball players for Central High 
School are over six feet tall? Can we still logically conclude that Allyson must be taller than six 
feet? No, we can't. Sure, it's possible that she is, but it's also possible that she's not. By denying 
the statement, then, the argument falls to pieces; it's simply no longer valid. And that's our 
conclusive proof that the statement above is a necessary assumption of this argument. 
Critical Reasoning questions are one third of the Verbal section of the GMAT exam. These 
questions are designed to test one's logic and reasoning skills, particularly in evaluating 
arguments. The questions themselves could deal with almost any subject matter, and no 
familiarity with that subject matter is assumed or required.  
This tutorial aims to give you the tools to find the answer that ETS wnat you to find which is just 
what you need to raise your score. 
 
The GMAT's Critical Reasoning is intended to be an effective way of evaluating how people 
reason. However, the truth is that the logic in many of the questions is less than completely 
sound. There is definitely room for interpretation on many of these questions, judging from many 
examples taken from old GMAT tests. But there is little you can do about that - they make up the 
questions, they make up the rules. 
You could cry about it. Go ahead, have a good cry. We will wait. 
.......... 
Feel better? Good. Now let's take a look at how we can best this test to obtain the best score we 
possibly can. 
A Critical Reasoning Problem is comprised of three main parts: the text, the question, and the five 
answer choices. We will deal with the different types of questions later. 
 
Here's an example of a Critical Reasoning text: 
 
Personal 
A CEO of a major company noted a serious decline in worker productivity during the 
previous five years. According to a report done by an outside consultant, productivity 
dropped by 35% by the end of that period. The CEO has therefore initiated a plan to 
boost productivity by giving employees shares of the company as part of their pay 
package. 
We can use the text above to show the four different parts of a Critical Reasoning text. 
Conclusion/Main Idea - Most problems have a central idea or thesis. This is almost always 
located in the sentence at the beginning of the text, or in the sentence at the very end. In this case, 
it is at the end of the passage: 
The CEO has therefore initiated a plan to boost productivity by giving employees shares 
of the company as part of their pay package. 
Notice the word therefore in that sentence. Words like therefore, thus, hence, and so usually tell 
us that this is the conclusion or the main idea. Let these words lead you to the main idea. 
Premise - Premises are the facts or evidence that support or lead to the conclusion. Unlike 
assumptions, they are explicit. Here is an example from the text: 
A CEO of a major company noted a serious decline in worker productivity during the 
previous five years. 
This premise helps the author lead to the conclusion or main idea of the text. 
Assumption- Assumptions are the facts that support the conclusion, like the premise does, but 
unlike the conclusion and premises they are not stated in the text: they are implicit. Here is what 
would be an example of an assumption for this particular Critical Reasoning problem: 
Owning something or part of something obliges you work harder to make it succeed. 
Note that this line is not in the text: it cannot be in the text if it is an assumption of the author. But 
it does give the argument as a whole some sense, and also supports the conclusion. 
Supporting Information- Like a premise, this is stated and explicit information embedded in the 
text, but unlike a premise, it does not support the conclusion. At best it supports a premise or 
provides further detail or information regarding a premise. From the text: 
According to a report done by an outside consultant, productivity dropped by 35% by the 
end of that period. 
This sentence supports the first sentence, the premise that notes that productivity has dropped. 
Supporting Information does not support the Conclusion or Main Idea, rather, it supports 
information that is already in the text. 
 
 
The following strategies should help you with all the Critical Reasoning questions. 
1. KISS - Remember the old saying, Keep It Simple Stupid i.e. KISS? It also applies to 
Critical Reasoning. The key to Critical Reasoning is to focus on what the question is 
asking you to do, finding an answer choice that best answers the question. THAT'S ALL 
YOU SHOULD DO. Some books tell you to think of the 'scope' or 'parameters' of the 
argument. That's valid too – it is basically saying the same thing. Just answer the 
question, do not read too much into it or let your own knowledge of a subject lead you to 
pick the wrong answer. KISS. 
 
2. Patterns - Look for particular types of questions, and then use the strategies appropriate 
for that type of question to choose the right answer. We will be looking at different types 
of Critical Reasoning Questions in the next section. 
 
Page 5


 
Personal 
GMAT CAT Critical Reasoning 
Introduction 
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 Reasoning Questions 
Critical reasoning questions will ask you to: 
1. Strengthen an argument.  
2. Weaken an argument.  
3. Identify a parallel argument.  
4. Identify the assumption.  
5. Identify the inference.  
6. Select the best conclusion.  
Our Preferred Approach to Critical Reasoning Questions 
1.)  Read 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, and then 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 indicate the 
conclusion. 
 
Personal 
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 was incorrect. 
3.)  Try to guess the correct answer before you even read the answer choices.  Often your 
hunch will be correct. This will help you focus on selecting the best answer. 
4.)  Read 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 presents the most relevant arguments and raises the most relevant issues. 
Critical Reasoning 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: 
1. Circular reasoning  
2. Inaccurate cause-and-effect arguments  
3. Sweeping generalizations  
4. Unqualified "expert" opinions  
These tips and strategies can help you answer these questions correctly: 
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 and information. 
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 
 
Personal 
statements. Hence, when you encounter an answer choice that makes an absolute statement, you 
will know that it can be safely eliminated. 
DENIAL TEST.  One of the types of critical reasoning questions you'll see on the GMAT is the 
assumption. An assumption bridges the gap between an argument's evidence and conclusion. It's a 
piece of support that isn't explicitly stated but that is required for the conclusion to remain valid. 
When a question asks you to find an author's assumption, it's asking you to find the statement 
without which the argument falls apart.  
 
In order to test whether a statement is necessarily assumed by an author, we can employ the 
Denial Test. Simply deny or negate the statement and see if the argument falls apart. If it does, 
that choice is a necessary assumption. If, on the other hand, the argument is unaffected, the choice 
is wrong.  
 
Consider the following example:  
Allyson plays volleyball for Central High School. Therefore, Allyson must be over six feet tall. 
 
 
You should recognize the second sentence as the conclusion and the first sentence as the evidence 
for it. But is the argument complete? Obviously not. The piece that's missing is the assumption, 
and you could probably rephrase this one pretty easily:  
All volleyball players for Central High School are over six feet tall. 
 
 
Now, let's use the Denial Test. What if it's not true that all volleyball players for Central High 
School are over six feet tall? Can we still logically conclude that Allyson must be taller than six 
feet? No, we can't. Sure, it's possible that she is, but it's also possible that she's not. By denying 
the statement, then, the argument falls to pieces; it's simply no longer valid. And that's our 
conclusive proof that the statement above is a necessary assumption of this argument. 
Critical Reasoning questions are one third of the Verbal section of the GMAT exam. These 
questions are designed to test one's logic and reasoning skills, particularly in evaluating 
arguments. The questions themselves could deal with almost any subject matter, and no 
familiarity with that subject matter is assumed or required.  
This tutorial aims to give you the tools to find the answer that ETS wnat you to find which is just 
what you need to raise your score. 
 
The GMAT's Critical Reasoning is intended to be an effective way of evaluating how people 
reason. However, the truth is that the logic in many of the questions is less than completely 
sound. There is definitely room for interpretation on many of these questions, judging from many 
examples taken from old GMAT tests. But there is little you can do about that - they make up the 
questions, they make up the rules. 
You could cry about it. Go ahead, have a good cry. We will wait. 
.......... 
Feel better? Good. Now let's take a look at how we can best this test to obtain the best score we 
possibly can. 
A Critical Reasoning Problem is comprised of three main parts: the text, the question, and the five 
answer choices. We will deal with the different types of questions later. 
 
Here's an example of a Critical Reasoning text: 
 
Personal 
A CEO of a major company noted a serious decline in worker productivity during the 
previous five years. According to a report done by an outside consultant, productivity 
dropped by 35% by the end of that period. The CEO has therefore initiated a plan to 
boost productivity by giving employees shares of the company as part of their pay 
package. 
We can use the text above to show the four different parts of a Critical Reasoning text. 
Conclusion/Main Idea - Most problems have a central idea or thesis. This is almost always 
located in the sentence at the beginning of the text, or in the sentence at the very end. In this case, 
it is at the end of the passage: 
The CEO has therefore initiated a plan to boost productivity by giving employees shares 
of the company as part of their pay package. 
Notice the word therefore in that sentence. Words like therefore, thus, hence, and so usually tell 
us that this is the conclusion or the main idea. Let these words lead you to the main idea. 
Premise - Premises are the facts or evidence that support or lead to the conclusion. Unlike 
assumptions, they are explicit. Here is an example from the text: 
A CEO of a major company noted a serious decline in worker productivity during the 
previous five years. 
This premise helps the author lead to the conclusion or main idea of the text. 
Assumption- Assumptions are the facts that support the conclusion, like the premise does, but 
unlike the conclusion and premises they are not stated in the text: they are implicit. Here is what 
would be an example of an assumption for this particular Critical Reasoning problem: 
Owning something or part of something obliges you work harder to make it succeed. 
Note that this line is not in the text: it cannot be in the text if it is an assumption of the author. But 
it does give the argument as a whole some sense, and also supports the conclusion. 
Supporting Information- Like a premise, this is stated and explicit information embedded in the 
text, but unlike a premise, it does not support the conclusion. At best it supports a premise or 
provides further detail or information regarding a premise. From the text: 
According to a report done by an outside consultant, productivity dropped by 35% by the 
end of that period. 
This sentence supports the first sentence, the premise that notes that productivity has dropped. 
Supporting Information does not support the Conclusion or Main Idea, rather, it supports 
information that is already in the text. 
 
 
The following strategies should help you with all the Critical Reasoning questions. 
1. KISS - Remember the old saying, Keep It Simple Stupid i.e. KISS? It also applies to 
Critical Reasoning. The key to Critical Reasoning is to focus on what the question is 
asking you to do, finding an answer choice that best answers the question. THAT'S ALL 
YOU SHOULD DO. Some books tell you to think of the 'scope' or 'parameters' of the 
argument. That's valid too – it is basically saying the same thing. Just answer the 
question, do not read too much into it or let your own knowledge of a subject lead you to 
pick the wrong answer. KISS. 
 
2. Patterns - Look for particular types of questions, and then use the strategies appropriate 
for that type of question to choose the right answer. We will be looking at different types 
of Critical Reasoning Questions in the next section. 
 
 
Personal 
3. Identify the Argument - Sounds obvious? Nonetheless, many forget or do not know the 
importance of carrying out this absolutely essential task. In order to do this, imagine what 
would satisfy the question. After you have imagined what could satisfy the question, look 
for it down below in the five answer choices. Is it right there, or very similar to it, in 
answer choice B, for example? If so, then B probably is the answer. Read the other 
answer choices quickly, but this is probably the right answer. This strategy saves you 
some valuable time. 
 
Of course, this strategy does not apply to Supply the Conclusion questions, but it does 
especially matter for Weaken, Strengthen, Continue the Idea and 
<EM.ASSUMPTIONquestions. 
 
4. Silly Answer Choices - There are ridiculous or nonsensical answer choices in many 
questions. If an answer choice seems against common sense, or makes no sense if the 
main idea is true, then you can probably eliminate it. 
 
5. Eliminate! - Rather than making a choice immediately, it is almost always better to 
eliminate down to one or two answers. Eliminate the ones you know do not make sense. 
So if you are left with two answer choices, and cannot decide between them, guess. At 
least you have eliminated it down to 50-50 odds. That's better than Las Vegas. 
 
There are four types of questions that account for the majority of the questions in Critical 
Reasoning. You MUST know how to deal with these types of questions. 
1. Weaken the Argument  
2. Strengthen the Argument  
3. Supply the Conclusion  
4. Supply the Assumption  
There are other types of questions but they are rare by comparison with these 4. We will 
encounter the other types of Critical Reasoning question in a later tutorial. 
We will begin with Weaken the Argument. 
 
This is probably the easiest and certainly the most common of Critical Reasoning question types, 
the Weaken the Argument question. 
Here's how this type of question might look: 
Some rental car agencies in the U.S. are now looking into installing satellite-guided navigation 
systems in their automobiles. The driver inputs the address on a keyboard, and the on-board 
computer calls out directions in American English, such as "You are now approaching Main 
Street". Rental car agencies hope to target foreign tourists and travelers unfamiliar with the 
United States. 
Which of the following, if true, provides the greatest reason to suggest that the plan will not 
work? 
A  These new computer navigation systems are expensive to install in many automobiles. 
B  Some foreigners visiting the United States may not understand English. 
C  Some people argue that the computer's voice sounds extremely cold and impersonal. 
D  
Many American citizens will also want to take advantage of the satellite-guided navigation 
systems. 
E  
In the average U.S. city, paper maps and city guides are available in almost every hotel and 
gas station. 
Try to answer this Weaken the Argument question yourself before going on to see the 
explanation. 
 
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