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The Importance of Critical Reasoning Practice

There is no doubt that the Critical Reasoning section of Graduate Management Admission Test is the most difficult part of the examination. The Critical Reasoning (CR) questions measures the examinees analytical reasoning skills. The format of the CR question starts with the stimulus which contains a short-paragraph argument, then followed by the question stem that will ask the question based on the stimulus.

Evaluating the argument in critical reasoning does not necessarily mean that the test taker is very familiar with the certain issues or topics. Instead, the ability to choose the correct answer is based upon whether the examinee can dissect an argument by identifying its premises and conclusion then determining the core of the argument. The official direction to easily choose the correct answer is selecting the ‘best’ of the answer choices given.

The Critical Reasoning questions in GMAT measures the test takers cognitive abilities. The argument questions aims to gauge one’s ability to think critically and analytically. To be specific, CR questions challenge every test taker to recognize reasoning errors and unstated assumptions, to follow an argument’s line of reasoning, and draw reasonable inferences from stated premises.

Every Critical Reasoning question provides a paragraph-length argument with a question pertaining to the argument. The question will determine on what kind of tasks that the examinee will perform. These tasks are will be either: recognizing how to undermine (seriously weaken) an argument, recognizing how to support (strengthen) an argument, identifying unstated assumptions, drawing an inference from a series of stated premises, making valid deductions based on a series of premises and/or a conclusion, recognizing patterns of reasoning, and recognizing the main point or final conclusion of an argument. The three most common question types in Critical Reasoning tests are the: unstated-assumption questions, undermining-evidence questions, and supporting-evidence questions.

Categorizing the question type is very vital. Identifying the question type will determine on what best approach to use in order to easily choose the right answer. Thus, reading the question stem before reading the argument will be of great help to know what to think about the argument upon reading it. Reading also the answer choices first will give no advantage for it only wasting the limited time by doing so.

There are 6-step approaches to easily handle the three most common used question types that I have mentioned above. The first step is by reading the question stem before reading the argument. Second is by reading the argument and identify its premises and the conclusion. Followed by formulating at least one or two assumptions, but this won’t take long and proceed to the next step if nothings happen. Then the fourth step will be scanning of answer choices that most reflects on the unstated assumptions that have already occurred on the examinee. Well, there’s a chance that one of those will be among the five choices. At fifth, when the assumption is not one of those answer choices then an examinee must consider each answer carefully. The last but not the least, if the examinee unable to determine the best response then better look for the answer choices that opposite of what the question ask for. These are the wrong answers, and must be eliminated in order to increase the chance of choosing the correct answer.

The best way to prepare for the Critical Reasoning of the GMAT is through developing skills and of course a lot of practice. If the test taker is still in college or any graduate program, then enrolling into any introductory course in critical thinking is a good step. However, if the test taker is out of school youth or working individual, then seeking Critical Reasoning preparation and GMAT study materials online is the best choice. With these preparations, the examinee will surely learn and think logically which is much needed in Critical Reasoning section.