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Introduction to GMAT Critical Reasoning

One question on the GMAT Verbal Section is Critical Reasoning.  On this question, the prompt presents some sort of argument, and then asks you, in one way or another, to analyze the argument — for example, by strengthening it, weakening it, finding its underlying assumption, etc.   The argument prompt is typically less than 100 words, much shorter than a Reading Comprehension passage, and most often, there’s only a single question on the CR argument.  CR comprises roughly 1/3 of the Verbal Section, about 13 CR questions of the total of 41 Verbal Questions.

Why does the GMAT ask CR?  Why does it matter?

You are preparing for the GMAT, which ostensibly means you are planning on attending business school, which in turn suggests that you are anticipating a management career in some aspect of the business world.  The entire business world runs on buying and selling: even if you are not a salesperson yourself, the success of your business, in a sense the raison d’etre of the business, is the money it makes from sales.

Well, in its essence, every sale is an argument.  If I want to sell you sometime, I have to present a case in some form to convince you to buy it.   If I make a wonderfully cogent argument, I may well generate the sale.  If my argument is faulty, and I repeat this pattern, that can only mean bad things for the long-term financial well-being of my business.  Arguments are important in business, and the skill of evaluating arguments is one that every manager should cultivate.  That’s precisely why business schools want you to bone up on it, which is why the GMAT asks about it in CR questions.


The 8 Types of CR Questions

Nearly all of the CR questions fall into one of the following eight categories.

1.) Weaken the Argument

2.) Strengthen the Argument

3.) Find the Assumption

4.) Draw a Conclusion/What Can Be Inferred?

5.) What is the Structure of the Argument?

6.) Complete the Argument

7.) Paradox Questions

8.) Evaluate the Conclusion

As I explain in this post, finding the assumption can help not only with question type #3, but also with either strengthening or weakening the argument.

See also:

 GMAT Critical Reasoning Practice Questions

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4 Responses to Introduction to GMAT Critical Reasoning

  1. paresh November 23, 2013 at 6:52 am #

    Hi Mike,

    i have read both Powerscore cr bible and Manhattan cr.
    I found Powerscore cr too lengthy and boring. Manhattan cr was very comprehensive and organised.

    Please let me know if Magoosh CR would be any different from Manhattan CR.

    After reading both books I attempted the untimed OG test and scored badly in it.

    Please let me know how to improve my CR skills.


    • Mike MᶜGarry
      Mike November 25, 2013 at 10:18 am #

      Dear Paresh,
      Magoosh has a video lesson series on CR that has somewhat different emphases from MGMAT’s approach, but of course, we cover much of the same material. I think Magoosh’s really strength lies in the video explanations for each question. In Magoosh, each GMAT CR question has its own explanation — of course, this video explains the individual question, but in doing so, it clarifies important points of content and general strategy. Taken as a whole, I believe what Magoosh offers is just as good, if not better, than what MGMAT has to offer.
      Does all this help?
      Mike 🙂

      • paresh November 26, 2013 at 1:21 am #

        Hi Mike,

        Thanks for the valuable reply.


        • Mike MᶜGarry
          Mike November 26, 2013 at 8:50 am #

          Dear Paresh,
          You are quite welcome. Best of luck to you, my friend.
          Mike 🙂

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