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GMAT Critical Reasoning – Quick Guide

Critical reasoning is one of the three areas tested in GMAT Verbal section. This quick reference guide will help you prepare for GMAT Verbal Critical reasoning Section.


  • Preview the question stem.

  • Read the stimulus critically looking for conclusion and premise/evidence and paraphrasing. Keep question stem in mind.

  • Paraphrase the answer (or have general idea).

  • Approach the answer choices looking for expected answer. If you can't find, eliminate until you are left with correct choice.

Question type

  1. Assumption

  2. Strengthen or weaken - will generally attack/support assumption or evidence.

  3. Inference question – must be true if argument is true

  4. Structure (Method of Reasoning/Flaw in the reasoning) -

  5. Resolve/explain the discrepancy – similar to assumption but no conclusion presented. Answer supports two contradicting facts presented.

  6. Evaluate the argument – similar to strengthen/weaken

  7. Parallel reasoning – Reduce the passage to basic level leaving specifics (If X, then Y)and then make a best guess.

  8. Main Point – Paraphrased Conclusion

First three are more common.

Types of arguments

  • Causal – x and y are correlated, so x must cause y. Assumption is generally that there is true causal relationship, there are no other causes and that x causes y (and not y causes x).

  • Sampling – small sample extrapolated to larger group. Assumption is generally that sample is representative.

  • Analogy – comparison between two things to reach an argument. Assumption is that two things are similar enough for the analogy to be realistic.

  • Formula – uses average, mean ratio, percentage etc to draw conclusion. Assumption is that the formula used can be applied to the population.

CR Tips

  • Understand the concept of Premise, Additional Premise, Counter premise, Assumption and Conclusion in arguments. These could be with or without Premise indicators (because, since, for example etc) , Additional Premise indicators (Furthermore, Moreover, Beside etc), Counter premise indicators (But, Yet, However, Although etc) Conclusion indicators (thus, therefore, hence, so etc).

  • Some of the CR passages are Facts (no conclusion). Only question type possible on these passages are resolve the paradox or inference question because of unavailability of conclusion.

  • Be look out for Quantity words (Most, Some, Few, Several etc) and Probability indicators (Never, will, could, would, likely, rarely etc). Wrong answer choices will sometime contain narrower or wider scope.

  • Fill in questions are Assumption question (ends with Premise indicators Because, Since etc) OR Main Idea question (ends with Conclusion indicators Thus, Therefore etc) OR Inference question.


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