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Critical Reasoning

As part of our commitment to helping students achieve high scores on the GMAT, we stay on top of the latest configurations of the test. We have compiled very recent reports from real test takers for today’s post. We certainly gained some insight into the latest look and feel of the GMAT.


Our sources reported that the Quantitative section heavily covered algebra. Even many of the more challenging questions were algebra-related. Test takers also encountered many inequalities, second-order equations, and absolute value. One person observed that many of the Problem Solving questions involved “which of the following three statements are true.” You might see a few probability questions and one or two combinatorics questions. However, there could be six or seven geometry questions. Also be prepared to tackle challenging coordinate geometry questions.

Data Sufficiency questions were prevalent (as high as 40% of 37 questions with some appearing consecutively in a string) in the tests of very high-performing candidates. 


Like the Quantitative section, the Verbal section also seemed to be weighted in a particular area. In this case, it was Sentence Correction. One test taker counted 16 Sentence Correction questions, 12 Critical Reasoning, and 13 Reading Comprehension in total.

Sentence Correction

Sentence fragments and tangled syntax were common issues in the sentence correction questions. Some test takers were actually surprised to see such a high number of those kinds of questions. Many of the Sentence Correction questions were primarily testing idioms, including:

X grew “at twice last year’s rate” (vs. the incorrect “at twice that of last year’s rate” or simply “grew twice last year’s rate”)
“more so than”
“attested to” (vs. the incorrect “testified of”)
“such as” vs. “like”

There were a few questions in which many of the incorrect answer choices were missing main verbs.These sentences, and others as well, featured highly tangled syntax, with the main verb following a confusing clause in the subject. In one particular case, the sentence as written was incomprehensible and could only be figured out after the student looked at the answer choices. Verb tense and parallelism were other issues that came up often.

Critical Reasoning

This section did not offer as many surprises. There are some inference questions. One person reported that two questions asked to resolve a paradox.

Reading Comprehension

Most test takers saw about four Reading Comprehension passages. Most of the passages asked about the main purpose and were quite short. Some topics tested include the likes of savings rates, fossil fuels, civil rights, and dinosaurs. Each passage had three or four questions. Some questions from these sections often seemed like critical reasoning ones, in which they ask what would weaken or strengthen the passage’s reasoning or which choice best illustrated a point made in the passage.

Our students have often times come to us for special advice on Critical Reasoning as they found it hard to improve their scores on it. Here are a few special tips:

  • There are additional real GMAT tests for sale on www.mba.com in pdf files. It is about $25 for 3 tests.Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension are the two areas that require inherent skill sets and knowledge. There are limited shortcuts. You need to find the best way you can read fast and comprehend accurately.
  • Locate a LSAT book and do the Critical Reasoning problems from there. They are harder than the GMAT. It will be a good practice. You need to read editorial columns of a top English newspaper on a daily basis to improve your Reading Comprehension.
  • Private tutoring will be helpful. We have seen our students improve over 1 month’s time.Visit our online recording library at manrev.webex.com and focus on watching the sessions on Critical Reasoning. You can have unlimited access beginning at US$150! We look forward to sharing with you our GMAT, MBA, and career success stories, experiences and advice!

Posted on December 10, 2007 by Manhattan Review

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