The most important technique to boost your critical reasoning score

This week I am excited to have a guest blogger. Eliza Chute is an independent GMAT tutor, and she runs the helpful site http://bestgmatprepcourse.com/ (check it out, it has helpful course comparisons, discounts, and helpful GMAT tips). Eliza is excited to offer more helpful GMAT advice like this, in her new GMAT study guide, “An Expert’s Guide to the GMAT.”  Use the discount code “mba15,” to get 15 dollars off!!


penguinWhat is the key aspect to most critical reasoning questions?

The key aspect to most critical reasoning questions is recognizing the connection (or lack there of) between the premises and the conclusion.  Being able to do this will help you with a variety of different question types, for example:

  • The correct answer to an assumption question is most often the unstated but necessary connection between the premises and the conclusion.
  • The correct answer to a weaken question is something that exploits the lack of connection between the premises and the conclusion.
  • Likewise, the correct answer to a strengthen question is usually something that fills in the gap between the premises and the conclusion.
  • The correct answer to a flaw question is usually something that points out the missing link or lack of connection between the premises and the conclusion.

 

Critical Steps for Critical Reasoning Questions

So, how do you find the missing link or lack of connection between the premises and the conclusion? The first step is to be able to spot the premises and the conclusion.  This is something that you should be practiced in if you have started to study for the GMAT.

The second step is recognizing the missing links between the two.  Here are some examples:

A study of college athletes showed that, with exercise being the same, those who implemented a vegetarian diet lost more weight than those who maintained a predominately red meat diet.  Therefore, if someone wants to lose weight, the best way to do that is to be a vegetarian.

This is an example of a common missing link where the premises are about a subset of a population and the conclusion is about the population as a whole.  These premises are about college athletes.  These athletes are probably around 18-23 and exercise more than the average person.  We can’t really make an assessment of the general population based on a study of just that subset, because their bodies could function very differently when it comes to weight management.

Another big problem with this argument is that even if the premises did successfully prove that a vegetarian diet is better than a diet of red meat for weight loss, they certainly didn’t prove that a vegetarian diet is the best.  This is another common GMAT missing link: the premises prove that A is better than B, then conclude that A is the best.  This cannot be proved from this information.  For example, there could easily be some other diet that works better than being a vegetarian.

Examples of how these missing links can be used in various question types include:

  • The argument assumes that college athlete have the same weight management results as the average population.
  • The arguments would be weakened if Studies had shown that a predominately white meat diet results in more weight loss than a vegetarian diet.
  • A flaw in the argument is that it doesn’t acknowledge that college athletes might lose weight under very different circumstances than the average population.
  • The argument would be strengthened if it were true that college athletes’ weight management is identical to the general population.

Thus, the key to understanding most critical reasoning questions is to understand the relationship between the premises and the conclusion.   Being able to understand this relationship quickly when reading through an argument won’t come naturally.  It takes a lot of practice.  However, once you get it down, you will be able to get through critical reasoning questions much more quickly and accurately.

For more helpful GMAT advice like this, check out Eliza’s new GMAT study guide, “An Expert’s Guide to the GMAT.”  Use the discount code “mba15,” to get 15 dollars off!!

 

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