Critical Reasoning Questions of GMAT Verbal Section

The Verbal Reasoning Section of the GMAT has three equally represented question types: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. Critical Reasoning questions are similar to Reading Comprehension questions in that they begin with a passage of text to read, followed by a multiple-choice question. However, the passage you will read for a Critical Reasoning question is generally shorter than that of a Reading Comprehension question, and you will only answer one question about the passage as opposed to three or four.

Critical Reasoning passages are generally structured as introducing a series of facts, followed by a conclusion made about these facts. In CR questions, the focus is to assess your ability to critically analyze an argument being made and the evidence used to either weaken or strengthen an argument. The aim of the question is different, thus, your strategy to approaching CR questions should also be different.

Approaching Critical Reasoning Questions

When dealing with Reading Comprhension questions, it makes sense to take the time to give each passage a close read. For one, you are using the same passage for multiple questions. In addition, you are being tested on your ability to comprehend the material. On the other hand, when answering a Critical Reasoning question, your goal is to analyze a conclusion being made from a set of facts. Thus, your approach to these questions should also be different. Using the following steps, you can cut down the time spent on Critical Reasoning questions and increase your accuracy.

  1. Skim for key words – the first step in approaching a Critical Reasoning question is to skim the text for key words which will point to the claim or conclusion being made in the passage. The question you must answer will be directly related to the conclusion, so save time by first finding that conclusion. Key words or phrases to watch out for:

    • Cause and effect: since, because, therefore, thereby, results in, thus, which means that, it follows that, consequently
    • Conclusion: clearly, obviously, in conclusion
    • Recommendation: should, recommend(ed)
  2. Find the Conclusion – once you have isolated key words, you can find the conclusion the author is drawing in the passage provided. The question you answer will be directly related to the conclusion, so you want to make sure you have a firm grasp on the claim first.

  3. Parphrase the conclusion – once you have found the conclusion, you should put it into your own words. In general, using your own words helps you to understand the question and simplify the overly confusing writing the test-makers tend to use. Once you have reworded the conclusion, it will be easier to quickly find the correct answer.

  4. Read the passage with purpose – now you may need to go back and reread the text with the question and conclusion in mind. This will help you focus on the facts which the claim rests on without wasting a lot of time reading the passage outright.