There are 41 questions on the GMAT Verbal section, and about a dozen of them will be Critical Reasoning problems: paragraphs that require you to dissect arguments and understand logic. Here’s how to conquer them with minimal fuss!
Step 1 – Cover the Basic by Going to the Source
The best place to start getting familiar with what “Critical Reasoning” looks like is on the official testmaker’s website: http://www.mba.com.
According to GMAC, the CR questions measure your ability to reason effectively in three areas:
- Argument construction: Questions of this type may ask you to recognize the basic structure of an argument, properly drawn conclusions, underlying assumptions, well-supported explanatory hypotheses, or parallels between structurally similar arguments.
- Argument evaluation: Questions of this type may ask you to analyze a given argument, recognize factors that would strengthen or weaken an argument, reasoning errors committed in making an argument, or aspects of the methods by which an argument proceeds.
- Formulating and evaluating a plan of action: Questions of this type may ask you to recognize the relative appropriateness, effectiveness, or efficiency of different plans of action; factors that would strengthen or weaken a proposed plan of action; or assumptions underlying a proposed plan of action.
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Step 2 – Learn what an “Argument” is (according to the GMAT, that is!)
Arguments have a tendency to follow predictable patterns of organization and are always comprised of a conclusion, premise (or evidence), and assumptions.
The conclusion and the evidence will be explicitly stated in the passage, while the assumptions will require you to sit and consider the author’s point of view. What needs to be true in order for the conclusion to be correct based on the given evidence?