“Complete the Passage” Critical Reasoning Arguments on the GMAT

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.

Have you run across any “fill in the blank” Critical Reasoning (CR) questions yet? These arguments end with a long, straight line, and we are supposed to pick an answer choice that fills in that blank.

Try this example from the free question set that comes with GMATPrep:

Which of the following best completes the passage below?

People buy prestige when they buy a premium product. They want to be associated with something special. Mass-marketing techniques and price reduction strategies should not be used because ________________.

(A) affluent purchasers currently represent a shrinking portion of the population of all purchasers

(B) continued sales depend directly on the maintenance of an aura of exclusivity

(C) purchasers of premium products are concerned with the quality as well as with the price of the products

(D) expansion of the market niche to include a broader spectrum of consumers will increase profits

(E) manufacturing a premium brand is not necessarily more costly than manufacturing a standard brand of the same product

Officially, these are called “Complete the Passage” arguments. The interesting tidbit: they are NOT a separate question type! These questions fall into one of the same categories you have been studying all along; the format is just presented in this “fill in the blank” format.

Most of the time, these are actually Strengthen questions. Every now and then, you will encounter a Find the Assumption question in this format.

The real trick here is to determine the question type. If the word right before the underline is because or since (or something equivalent), then the question you are dealing with is a Strengthen question. If the argument is set up to ask you to insert a piece of information that would support the conclusion of the argument, that is a Strengthen question.

The only real variation I have seen is when the sentence leading up to the blank asks what must be true or what must be shown. In those cases, you probably have a Find the Assumption question.

Want to know how to do the GMATPrep question presented earlier in this post? I am so glad you asked! Take a look at this full article that explains how to do the question and takes you through the standard four-step process for all CR questions. The article on the Manhattan Prep blog is the first in a three-part series on CR; click the link at the end to read the second part, and so on.

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