How To Answer Critical Reasoning Questions In GMAT?

The GMAT Critical Reasoning section is one of the most challenging sections of the GMAT Verbal Reasoning Section. It tests your ability to analyse the arguments, identify the assumptions, draw inferences, and evaluate the strength of the reasoning presented.

You must develop a systematic approach to tackling these questions to perform well in this section. And to tackle these kinds of problems, you must ask a very important question yourself first:

When to Use Options?

Comparing options is like a knife that cuts both ways. In some types of questions, it makes it easy to find the correct answer, but in others, it can confuse you. The best way to understand when and when not to compare the options is through examples.

All the below examples are taken from the Daily Targets by GMATPoint. Daily Targets are an excellent tool for students preparing for GMAT, where you will get 5 questions each on verbal and quants daily, for free, along with their video solutions. You must check it out if you are a serious aspirant of the GMAT.

Let us look at some good examples to understand the approach to solving the Critical Reasoning questions of the GMAT:

Q1) Meteorologists use various devices to study and monitor weather patterns and predict future weather conditions. With the rapid advancement of technology, it is expected that meteorologists will be able to gather even more accurate and detailed data in the near future. However, some weather monitoring stations are located in areas that are rapidly developing, which may lead to changes in the local climate.

Therefore, in order to ensure the long-term accuracy and reliability of weather data, some meteorologists have decided to delay the installation of new monitoring stations in certain locations until the effects of development can be properly accounted for. By doing so, they hope to prevent any potential irregularity in the data, and ensure that future weather predictions are as accurate as possible.

Which of the following would be most useful to investigate the plan’s prospects for achieving its goal of ensuring the long-term accuracy and reliability of weather data?

1. Whether the meteorologists could use alternative weather monitoring methods that are less susceptible to changes in the local climate.
2. Whether there will be any changes in government funding for meteorological research and development in the near future.
3. Whether the development of the area where the monitoring stations are planned will significantly alter the local climate in a way that cannot be accounted for by current models.
4. Whether the installations of new monitoring stations in other locations will provide enough data to make up for the potential irregularities in data caused by development in the areas of concern.
5. Whether the new monitoring stations will be vulnerable to damage from extreme weather events such as hurricanes or tornadoes.

Approach: First, it is important to understand what is being talked about in the passage.

Meteorologists are talking about installing certain meteorological devices; however, these devices encounter a specific problem, and in response, there is a plan to delay the installation of these devices.

The question asks what should be investigated to ensure that the plan’s goal is ensured.

We know that it must be related to reliability of weather data. The passage tells us that since rapid development may take place in certain areas due to which the weather data collected may not be accurate. Your approach should be to scan the options to match with this.

If you look carefully, Options C and D are alike. However, C is talking about the exact problem written in the passage. Hence C should be the correct option.

It is important to note that here we did not compare all the options and justify why we did not use them. What we did was to:

2. Identify what it is trying to say
3. Identify what the question is asking
5. Scan the options to find the one that matches most accurately with our answer.

This is a good method to apply when the passage is long, and the examiner has a good chance to deceive you through confusing options.

However, if the passage is short, you can compare the options because there isn’t much leeway for the examiner to create confusion. In this case, comparing options is a good strategy. Let us look at another good example and see where we should compare options.

Q2) Passenger: This airline always has terrible service. They never serve enough food or drinks on their flights.

Airline representative: Actually, our records show that we serve the same amount of food and drinks as other airlines on comparable flights. It might seem like less to you because we space out our service more to reduce waste. The underlying strategy of the airline representative’s response to the passenger is most analogous to the underlying strategy of which of the following?

1. A teacher dismisses a student’s claim of being unfairly graded, citing the standardised and widely- approved rubric used to grade the assignment.
2. A lawyer rejects a client’s plea bargain citing the severity of the crime and the likelihood of conviction.
3. A financial advisor rejects a client’s investment strategy on the grounds that it does not align with the client’s stated goals.
4. A mechanic denies responsibility for a car problem citing a lack of evidence of previous issues.
5. A shift responds to our diner’s complaint about the portion size citing the serving size for the dish mentioned on the menu.

Approach: Firstly, we have to understand what the passage wants to convey. In this case, the person challenging the claim is making a subjective judgment based on their personal experience by comparison with other experiences, while the other party is presenting objective evidence to counter that perception, implying that there is no difference from other experiences.

We can now compare the various options. The underlying strategy of the airline representative’s response to the passenger is most analogous to Option A, where a teacher dismisses a student’s claim of being unfairly graded, citing the rubric used to grade the assignment.

In the case of the airline representative, they are using data to show that they serve the same amount of food and drinks as other airlines, and their service might seem different due to the way they space out their service. Similarly, the teacher is using a rubric to objectively measure the student’s performance on the assignment.

Option B: This option does not involve a comparison of subjective perception versus objective evidence; instead, the lawyer is providing legal advice based on their professional judgment of the client’s situation.

Option C: The financial advisor is providing advice based on the client’s stated goals and the advisor’s professional judgment of the investment strategy; since this analogy does not involve a comparison of subjective perception versus objective evidence, we can eliminate it.

Option D: Here, the mechanic is relying on their professional knowledge and experience to make a judgment about the cause of the car problem. Akin to Options B and C, it does not underline the comparison.

Option E: The chef is citing a standard for portion size that is based on the menu specific to the given restaurant, and thus, this option does not involve a comparison of subjective perception versus objective evidence.

Hence it is safe to conclude that Option A is the closest analogy.

Now that we have seen examples of both approaches, i.e., when to compare and not to compare options, you may be wondering when to use either of the strategies. There is no short answer. The long answer is- through practice. And for practice, one of the best resources is the Daily Targets of GMATPoint.

We hope that you have found the article useful, in which case you should definitely check out how to solve the GMAT RCs.

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