Jan 222011

gmat critical reasoning

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.
 January 22, 2011    Add comments

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