Learnist: How to Rock the “Bolded Statement” Questions on the GMAT

GMAT “Bolded Statement” (or “Boldface”) questions ask about the structure of a GMAT Critical Reasoning passage. Since they’re rare (and fairly confusing), many students struggle with them.

GMAT Arguments have a tendency to follow predictable patterns of organization and are always comprised of a conclusion, premise (or evidence), and assumptions. This is one of the core fundamentals in Critical Reasoning!

If what I just wrote makes no sense to you, you’ll definitely want to thoroughly review this Learnboard on Argument Structure before proceeding.

According to this article, here’s some sample bolded statement question stems:

  • In the argument given, the two portions in boldface play which of the following roles?
  • The first boldface statement has what relationship to the second boldface statement?

Most of the bolded statement questions will follow one of these two lines: either asking about the “roles” of each boldface OR about their relationship to one another.

But remember that the REAL question behind the question will always be this: what function does each bolded statement perform within the argument?

To successfully decipher the given options, you’ll want to categorize each part of the passage and each answer choice with a predetermined, specific set of symbols. Make use of that yellow scratch pad! Here’s the symbols I like to use:

MC = Main Conclusion (the author’s argument or position)

OC = Opposing Conclusion (an argument in opposition to the main conclusion)

F = Fact (basic given information, backstory, premise, etc.)

A = Stated Assumption (think of this as part of the passage that “links” given facts/evidence to stated conclusions)

E (+) MC = Evidence Supporting Main Conclusion (this is what the author cites to support his conclusion)

E (+) OC = Evidence Supporting Opposing Conclusion (this is evidence that is cited in support of the opposing conclusion; it undermines the author’s conclusion and can also be expressed as E (-) MC).

Try out two free practice questions with full explanations on this board: How to Rock the “Bolded Statement” Questions !

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