GMAT Critical Reasoning Section Broken Down

About 11 questions in the verbal section of the GMAT fall into the “critical reasoning” category, and they will require the candidate to read short passages ranging from 20 to 200 words. Usually, a passage presents an argument and tries to persuade the reader that the point it makes is valid. To accomplish this, evidence is presented, followed by some assumptions and the resulting conclusion.

This section is meant to assess the students’ skill in constructing an argument and evaluating one that is presented to them, but they will not need any previous knowledge of the topics being covered. Instead, they must weigh the answer choices presented to them carefully, so that they can detect even the slightest error in reasoning. One of the incorrect choices will suggest something that is totally opposed to the argument maintained in the passage, a choice that is really not covered in the passage, and a choice that completely distorts the facts.

To complete the section successfully, candidates should:

● Read the question before reading the passage. This is called “working in reverse order,” and doing so will help them in finding the correct response.
● Look for the evidence and assumptions presented in the passage, and the conclusion that is at the heart of the question.
● Become familiar with the basic concepts being covered in this section. If a question seems particularly difficult, they should try translating it into simpler language and work from there, remembering that some of the questions are hypothetical and that they should only deal with the facts presented in the passage.

The various types of critical reasoning questions contained in the GMAT include:

● Numbers and statistics – Students focus on ratios and numbers because they have to distinguish between them and take the data at face value as well.
● Studies and surveys – Experiments may also be included here, and candidates are asked determine if the results have been misinterpreted in some way.
● Scope-shift – Here they will detect a slight change in emphasis. (For example, “first-time home buyers may be changed to “recent homebuyers” later on, and this is a sign of faulty argumentation.)
● Causation – In this case, the “result” is mistakenly presented as the “cause.” The passage may state that a problem arose because of a particular factor when its development was actually far more complicated than that.
● Alternative explanation – Here, the argument presented in the passage is incomplete and another solution is needed.
● Explain-a-paradox – In this case, they have to choose the response that fails to meet certain standards, and words indicating a contrast of some kind (however, but) are especially important.

Preparing for the GMAT

For online test preparation, students can visit:, and choose from one of the three unique programs this company offers to suit their specific needs and circumstances. Also, as part of their overall test preparation, candidates should develop their personal studying strategy and sharpen their professional writing skills at the same time. Taking classes to prepare for the GMAT may involve some expense, but they also provide the motivation and support that many candidates need. Many often find that by signing up for an online test prep class fits into their schedule and provides a good foundation before you take the test.

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