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.
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.