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Critical Reasoning useful tips

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A. Assumptions

·     An assumption is merely an unstated (implied) premise. 

·     In logically correct arguments which contain an assumption, the premise + assumption = conclusion. 
·     An assumption bridges the gap between argument’s stated premises and conclusion. 

·     Remember, since the assumption is an UNSTATED premise, any answer choice that comes from the passage to support your assumption is necessarily incorrect. 

·     For assumption questions, find the conclusion and determine which answer choice needs to be true for a conclusion to be valid.(It must be a statement that completely supports the conclusion 


·     Will be supporter or defender 

·     Supporters help to link unrelated information presented in the stimulus and fill logical gaps 

·     Defenders eliminate possibilities of weakness and attack to the stimulus/conclusion. 

    B.  Strengthen the Argument 

Identify the conclusion—this is what you are trying to strengthen!

Find the logical gap and fix it with additional information. This is the ONLY type of GMAT question where additional information (outside of the question) can/should be used.

Correct answers to this question type will:

·     Connect evidence with conclusion better 

·     Make conclusion stronger. 

·     Strengthen the evidence with new information (perhaps an assumption is needed to make the argument work 

C.     Weaken The Argument 

To solve these questions, you first need to identify the premise and the conclusion. In this question type, we assume an answer choice presented to be true – even if it introduces new information (obviously, the information has to be relevant to the stimulus)


·     Should rebuke the conclusion of the stimulus 

·     Answer choices are taken to be true, even if there is new information provided. 

·     Will either break down causality or show an obvious error in reasoning in formation of the conclusion 


·     Will point out an obvious reason for the illogical conclusion 

·     Enumerate a wrong generalization 

·     Point out improper comparisons between two scenarios that the author assumed 


Consider the evidence, draw a conclusion.

An inference is an extension of an argument, not a necessary part of it.
A valid inference is a conclusion, but not necessarily the conclusion, of a set of statements.

For inference questions, determine which answer choice must absolutely, positively be true based on what you’ve read.
•     Pick the obvious answer choice. 

•     Avoid extreme answers (too strong or too weak) 


·     Restatement of the conclusion 

·     Combination of one or more premises 

·     Should be the main point of the stimulus, not just a premise (for Main Point questions-Repeat premises are wrong ) 

E.     Resolve the Paradox 

To solve this type of question, look for a logically contradictory discrepancy.

• Often the correct answer will take a similar format (in terms of answer length or argument structure).


Inference VS Assumption

An inference is a conclusion that can be drawn based on one or more of the statements in the stimulus. An inference must be true based on something that you read.

An assumption is a missing but necessary piece of evidence. An assumption is something that must be true in order for the argument to be complete

Numbers, Percentages

Watch for the distinction between NUMBERS and PERCENTAGES.

Mimic the Reasoning

Follow same line of reasoning from the passage in the answer.

Eliminate the question stem detail to create a shorthand version of the argument structure.
•     Question Stem: If it rains, then I will stay at home today.” 
•     Shorthand: If A, then B.” 
•     Answer: “If A, then B.” 

7 Principles of CR

1.    Understand structure of argument. Identify premise (P), conclusion (C) and any unstated assumptions. Look for structural signpost words which mark P and C. 
2.    Preview question before reading passage. 

3.     Paraphrase passage’s point or main idea using one verb “i.e., explain, criticize, compare, contrast”.3 
4.     Judge argument’s persuasiveness while reading actively. 

5.     Answer question being asked. 

6.     Prephrase answer. 

7.     Keep SCOPE in mind. Moderate rather than strong words / qualifiers usually correct. 

Paraphrasing and Prephrasing


•     Actively translate passages into your own words. 

•     Pretend you are explaining the information in a passage to a 10-year-old kid. 

    Pre phrasing 

•     Think about what form the correct answer will take. 

•     As you do more questions, you will begin to “guess” correctly, as you start to think as the test makers do. 


Watch for irrelevant or overly strong answer choices in CR.

Stay within SCOPE and TONE of passage

Negate (Counterattack)

For assumption questions, negate CR answer choice to see if the conclusion can survive


When an argument is based on statistics, it is usually assumed that the people polled are representative of the whole

Questions Involving Surveys

Consider: Does the survey accurately represent the views of the whole group surveyed? Is there a statistics bait and switch?

Scope Shifts

Be wary of scope shifts. Look for tentmakers’ tricks:

•     Sometimes a passage will begin with one group and draw a conclusion about another group. Similarly, a passage might have weak premises and then draw an overbroad conclusion. 

•     Other times the tone of the passage moves so far that the testtaker is left wondering, “How did that conclusion come about?” 

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