General Strategies for Critical Reasoning

Unless the question is a GMAT conclusion question, there will always be two parts to an argument:  The premises—these are the facts that the author presents—and conclusion—the sentence that the author wants you to believe is true, but is not necessarily true.  

Since you cannot mess with the facts that are presented, almost any question impacts the conclusion.  Therefore, there are always two basic steps to answering a critical-reasoning question:

Step 1:  Read the question first!  When you start reading that long, wordy, cumbersome paragraph of an argument, you want to already know what you are looking for so that you do not get lost in the text.

Step 2:  Find the conclusion!  Unless the question is a conclusion question (in which case you have synthesize all the facts presented in the paragraph), your job is to strengthen, weaken, identify the flaw of, identify the assumption of, or infer something from not the entire argument, but the conclusion of the argument.  So make sure you really zone in on that one single sentence!  Also, know your key words signaling a conclusion!

Step 3:  Know your argument types and the underlying assumptions for each type—causal arguments, arguments by analogy, and statistical arguments.  This is critical to the essay analyzing an argument as well!

About the Author

Sarai yaseen is
a native of Boston, Massachusetts with an M.A. in English Literature, Sarai has been teaching the verbal portion of the GMAT at GMAX for over five years and has taught more than 600 hundred students world wide. Don't forget to check out her website - www.theverbalcorner.com

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