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How to tackle Critical Reasoning boldface text by Economist GMAT Tutor

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Every once in a while, students ask me how to tackle Boldface questions in the Critical Reasoning section. They ask, should I read all the statements? It takes a lot of time and I forget the first sentence when I reach the last.

My answer is that we shouldn’t be tempted to treat a Critical Reasoning passage as we do a Reading Comprehension passage. In Critical Reading you don’t read selectively, but you do read strategically, with intention, focusing on the following:

  • Reading each sentence at a time, and determine whether the statement is a premise or a conclusion.
  • Taking a closer look at the boldface portions and ask yourself what the boldface portion is and what it does.

When we read a statement in the passage, we can’t always foretell how it will be described in the answer choices. If we simply classify the statement as a premise and are aware of the various words that may fall into the category of premises, this will help us decide whether the description in the answer choice fits. If the answer choice doesn’t characterize the boldface portion correctly, i.e. if it inaccurately describes what the boldface is, we can eliminate that answer choice.

When presented with a long passage with long and convoluted answer choices, don’t skimp time on reading the passage. Read it fully, sentence by sentence. Read it strategically, considering whether each sentence is a premise or a conclusion.

Then when you have the passage mapped out, you can work through the answer choices more quickly. Focus on the first boldface portion first, and eliminate those answer choice that don’t get it right when they tell us what the boldface is and what it does.

This post appeared first on the Economist GMAT Tutor blog.

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