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Critical Reasoning on the GRE: Practice Questions and Explanations

Below are two questions relating to a critical reasoning prompt. Neither question is easy – so if this is your first foray into GRE critical reasoning, read this post first.

For the rest, I do have a quick – but very important – preamble. Whenever you encounter a critical reasoning question on the GRE, always read the question. It is easy to give the question nothing more than a cursory glance after sweating through the argument. The prompt, however, is only important insofar as it helps you answer the question.


The Dvorak keyboard requires less finger movement than the ubiquitous QWERTY keyboard,. As a result, Dvorak keyboard users are not only able to type more words per minute, but are also less vulnerable to both repetitive stress disorder and carpal tunnel syndrome. Nonetheless, businesses, as well as consumers, have not adopted the Dvorak keyboard. Clearly, if the Dvorak keyboard is to become more widely used, its benefits must be more widely touted.


1. Which of the following, if true, most threatens the author’s conclusion?

(A)  The initial cost of manufacturing a Dvorak keyboard will be more expensive than that of a QWERTY keyboard.

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(B)  Many who have attempted using a Dvorak keyboard claim that learning the configuration of keys takes weeks

(C)  Those suffering from repetitive stress injuries often attribute the injuries to multiple factors

(D) Businesses that have educated employees on the benefits of the Dvorak keyboard, have found that employees continue to use the Qwerty keyboard

(E)  Businesses have found that many employees who believe the Qwerty keyboard is responsible for stress-induced injuries are unaware of the Dvorak keyboard.


2. Which of the following is an assumption upon which the author’s claim rests?

(A)  When deciding between two options, consumers and businesses do not opt for the solution that has fewer negative effects.

(B)  People’s reluctance to transition to the Dvorak keyboard does not have multiple factors.

(C)  Dvorak keyboards require users to relearn the configurations of the keyboard, a potentially time-consuming process

(D) The Dvorak keyboard can only become a viable alternative if businesses require their employees to no longer use QWERTY keyboards.

(E)  The range of finger movement is the sole determinant of typing speed.



1. D

The argument believes that more people simply have to know about the Dvorak keyboard and they will begin using it. (D) casts the most doubt on the conclusion. If businesses have tried educating employees, but the latter have been reluctant, then simply making the Dvorak more widely known is not going to result in converts, the way the argument assumes it will. (B) does not directly weaken the argument the way (D) does. Sure, people claim they will take a few weeks to learn how to use the keyboard. That is not the same as saying they are unlikely to shift.


2. B

This one is tricky. The argument states that there is only one reason that people are not using the Dvorak: they do not know about it. Therefore, the argument assumes that there are not multiple factors for the Dvorak’s lack of success. (A) is misleading, mainly because it sounds reasonable. That is, in the real world, (A) seems like it would be true. For this argument, (A) goes against what the argument is saying. People and businesses continue to use the QWERTY keyboard despite the negative effects. (C) weakens the argument. Revealing an assumption is not the same as weakening an argument.


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10 Responses to Critical Reasoning on the GRE: Practice Questions and Explanations

  1. Krithi October 4, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    Why cant option B be the answer to the second question ? The author also assumes that the typing speed depends on finger movement. So a lot of time is saved then! A lot of other factors could also depend on the typing speed.

    • Kantshri Baronia October 24, 2016 at 10:39 pm #

      Finger movement is being talked about in Option E. Anyway, the question asks the ‘assumption’ on which Author’s claim rests.
      Now what is the claim here? The last line of the extract…that ‘inorder to increase Drovak’s use, its features have to be increased.’ This gives enough hint that the author believes there ain’t multiple factors for failure of Drovak!

  2. Pronay J Panikkan December 15, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    What level of difficulty as per the GRE standards is this passage? It’s just that I’m more than reasonably comfortable with this level. I have been practicing with material from Kaplan, and
    those I felt, were considerably harder. This will be my first attempt at GRE and I’d love to nail it!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele December 16, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      Hi Pronay,

      These questions aren’t meant to be that tough. I’d say somewhere in the easy-medium level. There are plenty of difficult CR questions out there that you might want to practice with if these questions seem a breeze.

  3. C February 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    Ironically, I have been typing in Dvorak for years, and am now having a huge problem because I can only take the computer-based GRE test using a QWERTY keyboard. This is massively detrimental to my analytical writing ability, because I cannot type nearly as fast or as fluently.

    N.B. I agree with the two commenters above that the correct answer to question 2 is A, for the same reasons they gave.

    • Kai September 1, 2015 at 7:53 am #

      I’m in a similar boat as I type using the Colemak layout. I struggle with typing on a QWERTY keyboard, I wonder if this counts as a disability… I need my own keyboard for my typing disability… wah!

  4. Dre November 9, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    Hmm. I am stuck on question 2. You wrote, “(A) goes against what the argument is saying. People and businesses continue to use the QWERTY keyboard despite the negative effects.” The way I read it, the argument does indeed say that people and business continue to use the QWERTY keyboard despite the negative effects, but it also assumes they have not been presented with the better option–the Dvorak.

    If (A) had only said, “Consumers and businesses opt for a solution that has few negative effects,” I would agree with you that it would clearly be a wrong answer, since the current QWERTY has negative effects. But because in (A) it is given that people must need to be aware that there even are two choices, it seems like the most suitable answer.

    The whole argument is that if people were aware of Dvorak in addition to the QWERTY (aka “deciding between two options”), they would choose the Dvorak because of its less harmful effects. This clearly seems to work on the assumption that when deciding between two options, consumers and businesses opt for the solution that has fewer negative effects.

  5. JP July 3, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    I don’t think your answer to problem 2 works. The argument does not state that there is only one reason people aren’t using Dvorak. While it does imply that wider knowledge is necessary for Dvorak to become more widely used, that doesn’t mean that wider knowledge is sufficient. It’s entirely consistent with the argument that there could be multiple factors all of which are necessary in order for Dvorak to be more widely used. While none of the answers is technically correct, I don’t think A is any worse than B. To make A work you have to read it as ‘opt for the solution they believe has fewer negative effects,’ but then it is an actual assumption of the argument. B may be an assumption made by the person who’s making the argument, but it’s not an assumption on which the conclusion rests.

    • vpa October 11, 2014 at 3:20 am #

      I wrongly chose (A) as well following Dre’s logic, but I can see where Chris is coming from. The assumption is not something that is stated explicitly in the passage, but an implied assertion that links the premise and the conclusion of the passage. Both (A) and (B) seem to be correct, although on hindsight I would say (B) is more correct because (A) is a ‘Gedanken’ scenario still based on the assumption stated in (B). (A) says, “Companies will choose the keyboard with less adverse effects”, and, in brackets, “ASSUMING companies are unconcerned about money, training time, etc.”. Therefore, (A) is not the most basic, necessary assumption on which the author’s claim rests. Tricky!

      That being said, I took 5 extra minutes of mulling the problem over after attempting it and seeing the answer. Who has time to do that for every question on the GRE? 🙂

    • T June 18, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

      I think you have nailed it right there when you said, “B may be an assumption made by the person who’s making the argument.” That is exactly what the question asked. What was an assumption made by the author. Always make sure to answer the question. A does not work because the question was about the author’s assumption. A would actually be something that could threaten the author’s conclusion, like the first question asked. If business and consumers do not factor in the negative factors of their keyboard when making a choice about which to use (for example, they only care about the bottom line- saving money) then it wouldn’t matter what they told you about the benefits of one versus the other.

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