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Critical Reasoning

Basics

1. Structure
a. Stimulus
b. Question Stem
c. Answer Choices
2. GMAT stimulus falls under two distinct categories: those containing an argument and those that
are just a set of facts.
3. An argument can be defined as a set of statements wherein one statement is claimed to follow
from or be derived from others.
4. If you are asked to identify the inference of the argument, you must find an item that must be true
based on the information presented in the argument

Primary Objectives
1.

Premise Indicator Conclusion Indicator


Because Thus
Since Therefore
For Hence
For example Consequently
For the reason that As a result
In that So
Given that Accordingly
As indicated by Clearly
Due to Must be that
Owing to Shows that
This can be seen from Conclude that
We know this by Follows that
For this reason

The Question Stem and Answer choices

1) The ten critical reasoning question types:


a) Must be true / Most Supported
b) Main Point
c) Assumption
d) Strengthen / Support
e) Resolve the Paradox
f) Weaken
g) Method of Reasoning
h) Flaw in the Reasoning
i) Parallel Reasoning
j) Evaluate the Argument

2) Resolve the paradox stimulus contains a discrepancy or seeming contradiction. You must find the
answer choice that best resolves the situation.
3) Method of reasoning question ask you to describe, in abstract terms, the way in which the author
made his or her argument.
4) Parallel reasoning question ask you to identify the answer choice that contains reasoning most similar
in structure to the reasoning presented in the stimulus.

Approach:

1) Determine whether the stimulus contains an argument or if it is only a set of factual statements.
2) If the Stimulus contains an argument, identify the conclusion of the argument. If the stimulus contains
a fact set, examine each fact.
3) If the Stimulus contains an argument, determine whether the argument is strong or weak.
i) Strength of the argument depends on the degree to which the premises prove the conclusion
4) Paraphrase: After reading the question stem, take a moment to mentally formulate your
answer to the question stem.

Must Be True

1. Paraphrasing can be difficult as there are no arguments, only fact sets


2. Potential answers:
a. Paraphrased answers: Answers that restate the portion of the stimulus in different terms
b. Answers that are the sum of two or more stimulus statements
3. In case of the stimulus, in which the author repeats the opinion of others, then in a Must Be True question
you can eliminate any answer choice that makes a flat assertion of his or her own.

Strengthen the Argument

1. Steps to follow:
a. Identify Conclusion
b. Look for weakness in the argument : If you see a weakness, look for answer that eliminates the
weakness
c. In arguments that contain analogies or survey results, the answer choices that strengthen the
argument or survey, or establish their soundness are usually correct.

Cause and Effect Relationship

1. The GMAT speaker believes that the only cause is the one stated in the conclusion and that there are no
other causes that can create that particular effect.

Ways to attack a causal conclusion


1. Find an alternative cause for the stated effect
2. Show that even when the cause occurs the effect does not occur
3. Show that although the effect occurs, the cause did not occur
4. Show that the stated relationship is reversed
5. Show that the statistical problem exists with the data used to make the causal statement
Ways to strengthen a causal conclusion

1. Eliminate any alternate causes for the stated effect


2. Show that when the cause occurs, effect occurs
3. Show that when the cause does not occur, effect does not occur
4. Eliminate the possibility that the stated relationship is reversed
5. Show that the data used to make causal statement are accurate, or eliminate possible problem
with the data

Assumption Negation Technique

1. Logically negate the answer choices under consideration


2. The negated answer choice that negates the answer will be the correct answer choice

Note: Logically opposite is different from polar opposite

Example:

I went to the beach every day last week


Logically opposite: I did not go to the beach every day last week
Polar opposite: I did not go to the beach any day last week

Subject Logically Opposite


All Not All
Some None
Always Not Always
Sometimes Never
Everywhere Not Everywhere
Somewhere Nowhere
Will Might Not
Could Cannot

Parallel Reasoning

Elements that must be parallel

1. Method of reasoning: First and foremost, if you recognize the form of reasoning used in the
stimulus, immediately attack the answers and search for the answer with similar reasoning. For
example causal reasoning or conditional reasoning
2. The Conclusion: If an answer has a conclusion that does not match the conclusion in the
stimulus, then the answer is incorrect.
When matching conclusion you must match the certainty level or intent of the conclusion in the
stimulus, not necessarily the specific wording of the conclusion
 First, answers that have identical wordings to the conclusion are contenders. Identical
wordings means answers in which the controlling modifiers (must, could, many, some etc.)
are same
 Because there are many synonyms available for the test makers to use, do not eliminate
answers just because the wording is not identical
 Presence of a negative term in the stimulus is not ground for dismissing the answer when the
stimulus has positive language
3. The Premise: Like the conclusion, the premise in the correct answer choice must match the
premise in the stimulus and the same rules discussed in the conclusion section apply here
 Matching premise is a step to take after you have checked the conclusion, unless you notice
that one of the premises has an unusual role in the argument.
4. The validity of the argument: The validity of the reasoning in the correct answer choice must
match the validity of the reasoning in the stimulus