Mastering GMAT’s Critical Reasoning


A Critical Reasoning (CR) argument in GMAT is usually structured into facts and a conclusion. It is very important that you are able to identify the different parts of an argument. We have already given you tips on identifying the conclusion in our post “Top 5 Experts Tips On GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions”. You have 65 minutes to kill the Verbal section of GMAT and that means you have roughly 100 seconds for each of the 36 questions (refresh your memory of the GMAT format here). It is easy to overshoot this limit in the Critical Reasoning (CR) part; so here’s how you can work towards mastering them… even if your exam is just days away.

Your job is never to question the facts of the argument. You can question the gap between the facts and the conclusion. This gap can also be called an assumption the writer makes in his argument. In simple words, what did the writer have to believe to be true in order to reach the conclusion, as based on the premises? There are many Critical Reasoning (CR) questions that require you to identify an assumption. It can get difficult, but below are some useful tips to simplify matters.

Your Quality & Speed

Here’s the ascending order of the time a typical examinee spends on the three categories in the Verbal Section:

Sentence Correction < Critical Reasoning < Comprehension

As you practice with this breakdown in mind, your key focus should be to improve your speed and the quality of your attention.

For quality, try timing yourself for an entire 65-minute practice session instead of only CRs (this also works on your mind’s agility when up against CRs).

For speed, try timing yourself against a bulk of CR questions to check where your average stands (instead of hitting them individually).

Question First, Argument Next, Options Last

Always read the question first when attempting a GMAT test’s CR questions. It is the fastest method to understand the premise, and makes the argument appear less daunting. You must then read the argument, which is the first paragraph holding all the details. And then lastly, you read the answer options.

Caution: Do not read the answer options as if it were a part of the ‘Question’.

Answer options are to be avoided until the very end. Many examinees read the answers right after the question (which is typically a single sentence) and end up wasting time and sacrificing their GMAT scores. So control yourself and jump to the top right after you’ve read the question.

Isolate ‘Keys’

Being tasked with critical reasoning will irk you until you learn to isolate the keys within the argument of a CR question. ‘Keys’ (Premises/Assumptions/Conclusions) are like ‘clues’ that you use to dissect a CR question and identify its type. Here’s how you master them:

For Premises, detect its foundational logic to familiarize with the subject.

For Assumptions, look for the conclusion it leads to.

For Conclusions, look for a premise that it might support.

Think Inside the Box

Avoid answer choices that are not directly evidenced in the question. You are not allowed to imagine and hypothesize. CR questions contain every detail essential for you to know the right answer. If an option appears to take you on a tangent, dial-up your inner skeptic and move on.

Moving On

Start this section of your GMAT preparation by trying out what you’ve learned in this article here. Also, some people may be more experienced in methods like ‘Keys’ and ‘Questions-First’.

Share this article with them to get their views and it may help you learn more. All the best! For more information about the GMAT program, visit: https://www.manyagroup.com/gmat

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