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Skills Required for the Critical Reasoning Questions on the GMAT

Critical Reasoning questions on the GMAT arouse a mixed reaction from test takers. While some find these questions easy, others insist that they make no sense and are traumatic! Training a group that voices such mixed opinions is then not an easy task and requires trainers to develop class plans that ensure breaking through mindsets and achieving a more balanced reaction to CR.

The most important thing to learn from a CR class is the art of starting right. There is no point in reading the text of the question without knowing what is being asked of you. Even if this reading takes all of 3 minutes, it is time squandered. So as soon as a CR question appears on the screen, read the task and identify what you are to do – strengthen the conclusion above, undermine the argument above, identify what the speaker is inferring – and what not! Each task requires a different reading style and emphasis and analytical strategy. With the task clear, it is much simpler to move to the text and sift it for what is relevant.

CR requires precision. In the case study type of questions especially the task is normally oriented towards some one aspect of the case and it is necessary that when you review the possible answers you focus on keeping your eye on that aspect. If the text has outlined the expansion plans of a business and the task asks you to pick an answer that justifies the ‘financial’ success of the plan, keep the focus. Do not pick any answer that simply talks of the benefits of the plan; pick the one that zooms in on the ‘financial’ success point.

Reading the task and understanding the language does pose a problem sometimes. This problem seldom arises from the vocabulary used; it arises from the very convoluted and breathlessly long sentences that the GMAT is so good with presenting. So, while practicing, you would be better off recognizing words and structures that are common on the test. For example, when the task says “cast doubt on the argument above” it is the same as “weaken the argument above” and “additional premise” works the same as an “assumption.”

Becoming familiar with the entire platter of CR question types does work to your advantage. Broadly speaking there are some very recognizable CR question types – strengthening, weakening, assumption, inference, conclusion -that make up for the major portion of the CR questions on the test. At the same time there are less frequent question types – paradox, bold font and completing the logic – that normally come in singles but that still need to be attended to.

Never ignore the wrong answer choices. Most students preparing for the GMAT are concerned with getting the answer right and moving on. Seems reasonable enough but is not. There is as much to learn from “why not this answer” as from “why this answer.” Such inquiry opens the mind, teaches perspectives and possibilities and helps us explore the fine art of expression. Some answer choices are wrong because of faulty data, others because they are irrelevant and still others because they have used a language that has gone overboard or missed the point.

Courses offered at Option Training Institute in Dubai are a learning experience. Unlike the routine training schedules that work around a book and with a few fancy slides, Option’s training schedules help students enjoy the learning process. There are no boxes in the mind; all learning is interdisciplinary and must be undertaken with curiosity. To encourage this, Option allows students the liberty to plan their schedules with the aim of maximizing learning and minimizing stress.