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GMAT Verbal Tips — Critical Reasoning

Following is a list of GMAT Verbal tips that apply specifically to Critical Reasoning questions — one of three basic question types you'll encounter during the exam's Verbal section. (Critical Reasoning will account for 14-15 of 41 available Verbal questions.) Also see this tutorial, which expounds on some of these tips.

  1. Read the question stem before you read the argument. The question stem (the question itself, apart from the answer choices) will contain useful clues about what to look for and think about as you read the argument.

  2. Focus on the argument's unstated assumptions. Questions that ask about an argument's assumptions are similar to those that ask what would weaken the argument. In either case your task is to determine what must be assumed in order for the argument's conclusion to be reasonably inferable. (In the latter question type, your task is to find the answer choice that refutes that assumption.)

  3. "Think through" each argument for yourself. If an argument confuses you, first identify its conclusion (often signaled by terms such as consequently and therefore). Then identify its premises — evidence that is given as factual (often signaled by terms such as because and since). Then think through the argument by asking yourself why its line of reasoning either does or does not make sense to you.

  4. Beware choices that answer the inverse question. Some questions will ask which answer choice either most effectively weakens or (alternatively) best supports the argument. You can be certain that one or two of the answer choices will accomplish just the opposite of what the question asks for. Be on the lookout for these wrong-way answer choices, which can easily fool an unwary test taker during a brief lapse in concentration.

  5. Don't be fooled by superfluous information. Some arguments may contain superfluous statements, which don't come into play at all in responding to the question at hand. Don't be thrown by this information; separate it from the premises on which the argument's conclusion actually relies.