All About Critical Reasoning Questions on the GMAT (Part 3)

With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the overall process for tackling Critical Reasoning (CR), as well as the four major CR question types. In Part 2, we reviewed the five minor question types. Now, let’s put it all together!

What is my strategy?

As we discussed in Part 1, the four major CR types are Find the Assumption, Strengthen, Weaken, and Inference. The majority of your CR questions will be in one of those four categories. If you are going for up to about 75th percentile on Verbal, concentrate on those.

Of the minor types, discussed in Part 2, the most common are Discrepancy, Describe the Role, and Evaluate. If you want to break the 75th percentile on Verbal, then also take a look at those three minor types, but still spend more time on the four major types. If CR is your weakest Verbal area, you can also skip whichever of those three minor types is hardest for you—some people really hate boldface questions, and others think Evaluate questions are the worst.

If you are looking to break the 90th percentile on Verbal, then you have to study everything. You can still pick one minor type as your “I will guess/bail quickly if I have to” question type, but you still have to try to learn how to do it and, during the test, take a crack at the question unless you are already behind on time and must bail on a question.

Great, I have mastered CR!

Let us test that theory, shall we? After you have studied all of the above and you feel pretty comfortable with CR, try this problem. I am not even going to tell you which type it is (in fact, that is one of the things that makes this problem so hard—what is it, in the first place?).

If you struggle with it, do not get discouraged. It is a very challenging problem. Instead, use it as an opportunity to get even better! By the way, the best outcome is not necessarily to get it right. Depending on your score goals and your other strengths and weaknesses, the best outcome may very well be to recognize that the question is too hard and to make a guess before the two-minute mark.

Happy studying!

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