GMAT Impact: The Four Main Critical Reasoning Question Types

Is the Critical Reasoning (CR) portion of the GMAT driving you crazy? Alternatively, maybe you think that CR is not too bad but you would like to become more efficient. A while back, we discussed the four-step process to use on any CR problem. If you have not already read that post, do so before you continue with this one.

As a reminder, here is the overall CR process:

Step 1: Identify the question.
Step 2: Deconstruct the argument.
Step 3: State the goal.
Step 4: Work from wrong to right.

I would like to follow up today with a quick discussion of the four main CR question types (and links to further resources). Manhattan GMAT groups the different question types into three main Families (the Assumption Family, the Structure Family and the Evidence Family), each of which contains various individual question types, for a total of about ten different question types.

Of all of these, there are four question types that tend to be more commonly tested than the others.

Three of the four are found in the Assumption Family: Find the Assumption, Strengthen the Conclusion and Weaken the Conclusion. All three will contain arguments with a conclusion and at least one unstated assumption—something that the author of the argument must believe to be true to draw his conclusion…but the author has not actually stated this assumption in the argument. Our task is to find it. The three links earlier in this paragraph will take you to three articles that discuss the solution process for one particular problem, using our standard four-step CR process.

The fourth of our four common types is found in the Evidence Family. Inference Questions do not contain conclusions. Instead, we are asked to infer or deduce something that must be true from the given argument. We can think of this as finding a conclusion for the argument, but with one major difference: when we are given a conclusion in an argument, that conclusion is always a claim. It is not a fact or something that has been fully supported by evidence. When we are asked to infer something, we do not want to pick an answer that is a claim; the correct answer must be true according to some evidence that can be found in the argument. Read the article linked earlier in this paragraph to learn more.

The nutshell: Relatively speaking, we want to spend more time mastering these four question types because a majority of our CR questions will likely be drawn from this subset of CR question types.

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