Overview of GMAT Critical Reasoning

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    For years, GMAT has been the top priority for the candidates who want to join the management courses in the top universities of the world. Graduate Management Admission Test is conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council where the syllabus evaluates the analytical, quantitative, and verbal skills of an individual. This test is also renowned for its adaptive capability as the difficulty level of the questions asked in the GMAT examination rises gradually. While it is a highly competitive examination, getting a good score can be made easy by becoming well acquainted with the pattern of the paper.

    Cracking the GMAT Verbal Section

    GMAT Verbal section along with the Quantitative Aptitude section forms the final score of GMAT examination. While the verbal section is not the easiest section in this competition, however with some planning and a proper strategy, the candidate can find themselves in a comfortable situation while attempting this section. The GMAT Verbal Section contains three sub-parts which include Sentence Correction, Reading Comprehension, and Critical Reasoning. We are listing down a set of guidelines which can highly useful in the preparation of the GMAT Verbal Ability section:

    • Verbal Section requires a lot of practice just like other sections
      • It is quite obvious that the candidate while preparing for GMAT examination, will prefer to practice more for the Quantitative Aptitude section more, experts suggest that the candidate doesn’t often practice enough when it comes to the Verbal Ability part assuming that basic command over the English Language would be enough to score well. However, grammatical knowledge, as well as the approach for handling passages, will come with practice only. Hence, the first guideline is to practice at least Reading Comprehensions and Sentence correction daily which will help to a great extent.
    • Verbal Section is equally important as the Quantitative Aptitude Section
      • There is no doubt that the candidate who is working hard for the Quantitative Ability section will get an edge over the competition, Verbal Ability section must also be given the same amount of time and practice as the GMAT Verbal Ability section is known to affect the overall GMAT score significantly. It is important for the candidate to be able to strike a balance between both the sections equally.
    • Concepts are the key in Verbal Ability as well
      • The verbal ability section of the GMAT exam is highly conceptual and tests the candidates by focusing the questions on the techniques and concepts. Thus, rather than sticking to just learning all the idioms that the candidate comes across, it is important to master the idea of sentence correction as well as understanding various techniques for solving reading comprehension accurately.

    Types of question in the Critical Reasoning Section in GMAT

    There are 36 questions in the Verbal Ability section out of which 11 questions are based on Critical Reasoning. While the candidates do not need to learn anything for these types of questions, the questions asked in this section are framed to test the ability of the candidate to evaluate and draw a rational conclusion based on logical arguments. Thus, these types of questions become a matter of concern and require a structural and conceptual approach to these questions. They are mainly of 5 types:

    • Strongest support / strengthening the argument: Questions of this type ask the candidate to choose the choice that supports the argument. The best possible method to crack this is to look for the main argument in the passage and then choosing the best option through which the argument wins. The questions can be in the following forms:
      • The following statements, if true, would strengthen?
      • The statements above, if true, most strongly support?
      • Which of the following if true, best supports the following assertions?
    • Finding the flaw / Weakening the argument – Questions of this type asks the candidate to choose the choice that weakens the argument. The questions can be in the following forms:
      • Which fact or piece of information would most effectively undermine the given argument?
      • Find the logical flaw in the presented argument’s reasoning?
      • Which of the above statements, if true, would most seriously weaken the argument?
      • Which of the following statements, if true, would cast the most doubt on…?
    • Finding a conclusion: This involves the questions that require the candidate to draw conclusions based on an argument. The candidate must remember that the conclusion must be drawn only from the passage. The Inference questions may be worded as-
      • Which of the following can be adequately inferred from the statements given above?
      • Which of the following can be correctly inferred from the statements above?
    • Assumption based question: This question would require the candidate to choose the answer such that the argument is accurate and thus it is pertinent to know the thrust of the given argument. The Assumption question is framed as-
      • Which of the following is an assumption made to draw the above conclusion?
      • The given argument relies on which of the following assumptions?
    • Finding a discrepancy in the given argument: This requires the candidate to find a paradox (coexistence of two contradicting pieces of information) in the given argument and thus, the correct answer would be a logical explanation of why such pieces of information are not contradicting in real sense. A Paradox question may be worded as-
      • Which of the statements, if true, most helps to solve the paradox outlined above?
      • Which of the following statements, if true, best describes the reasons for the apparent discrepancies described above?

    How to crack the Critical Reasoning Section in GMAT?

    Candidates are recommended to go through the below-listed preparation tips to score well in the Critical Reasoning section of GMAT. 

    • Time Management – The Verbal Ability section of GMAT examination is given 65 minutes to complete. The management of time is also a key in the verbal section as the questions based on the reading comprehension also take time to complete, however, the questions based on critical reasoning are not as time-consuming but they are right above the questions based on sentence correction. Thus, while practicing for these types of questions, the candidate must spend a maximum of one to one and a half minutes on each question.
    • Go through the question – Candidates are recommended to first quickly go through the questions before the passage as they help in finding the types of questions asked and what a candidate needs to be looking for.
    • Take time to analyze the question – For example, in the type of question where the candidate has to find a flaw in the given argument choices in the answers, the candidate can start by identifying the main essence of the passage and then look into the answer choices
    • Dealing with the extreme answer choices – Candidates must understand that in order to crack the GMAT Critical Reasoning part, the absolute or extreme type of answer choices are a serious no. This can be found out by noticing the clue words by avoiding the response that contains words like ‘only’, ‘never’, ‘always’, ‘all’, ‘none,’ ‘best,’ ‘worst,’ ‘must,’ etc.
    • Answer choices with any context – While going through the multiple answer choices that are given to the candidate for each and every question, the candidate must stay away from the choices that do not have any information that was not from the passage directly, since, the information that is asked in the questions would be present in the passage.
    • Taking notes from the passage – Another great tip to prepare for these questions is to take quick notes from the passage, in order to have a clear idea about the passage and what it is directing to.

    What to avoid for the Critical Reasoning section in GMAT?

    There are various common mistakes that most of the GMAT aspirants make while preparing for the prestigious examination. In order to crack GMAT, it is important for the candidate to understand that only familiarity with the exam is not enough and that there are certain mistakes that should be avoided at all costs. We are listing below three mistakes that can reduce the final score:

    • Avoid guess making: While this works sometimes, random guess are a strict no-no in the GMAT exam. GMAT is one of the top examinations in the world, and since with every incorrect response there will be penalty, the chances of getting a good final score on GMAT will be difficult. While there is an optional method of elimination of choices, in case the candidate is not able to reach to the final conclusion, it is best to move to the next question.
    • Makes Notes (only essential information): While it is clear that GMAT is a time-bound examination, it is also important for the candidate to save time in every possible way but on the cost of accuracy as it can significantly impact the final GMAT score. Thu, noting down the essential information from the reading comprehension passage can help in avoiding the silly mistakes as it can help in combining the various arguments together to reach to a conclusion asked in the question.
    • Don’t focus on analyzing the difficulty level, time management is the key: Many candidates try to focus on analyzing the difficulty level of the questions instead of solving them. However, what may seem difficult to one may be easy for the other. Thus, there is no parameter to analyze the difficulty level of the question and the candidate should promptly focus on using their conceptual techniques to either solve the question or move on to the next question.

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College

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