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1 gmat critical reasoning an overview



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  • 1. GMAT Critical Reasoning – An overview Critical reasoning is a process by which we evaluate information and ideas, for taking effective decisions. Every human being from birth to burial is capable of thinking because each has a mind of his or her own and there lies the problem. We very often think as per the dictates of our minds rather than those of our brains. Such reasoning is normal reasoning. Critical reasoning on the other hand, differs from normal reasoning in its focused approach, objectivity and ability to see through the phenomena and their possible pitfalls. In GMAT, Critical Reasoning is evaluated in terms of measuring one’s ability to observe the evidences, appraise the study results, unearth hidden assumptions and then evaluate an argument and its conclusion for their effectiveness Critical Reasoning also measure the ability to draw appropriate inferences , pick flaws, identify the various strengtheners, weakeners and paradoxes. For this purpose, a stimulus is provided, which is normally a four–to-five line paragraph, with a questions pertaining the passage. Each question will ask you to perform any of the following tasks. 1. Evaluating how a conclusion or an argument is undermined or seriously weakened. The question may run as "Which of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the argument above?" 2. Measuring how a conclusion or an argument is supported or strengthened. The question may run as "If all of the statements above are true, which of the following is most strongly supported by them?" 3. Inferring what can follow given the premises and the conclusion. The question may run as "The foregoing argument depends on which of the following assumptions?"
  • 2. 4. Logically deducting a sequential event based on a series of premises and/or a conclusion (Must be true questions. The question may run as "If all of the statements above are true, which of the following must also be true? 5. Identifying analogical patterns. The question may run as Which of the following is most like the argument above in its logical structure? 6. Spotting the flawed reasoning in a given argument. The question may run as Which of the following points to the most serious logical flaw in the reviewer’s argument? 7. Exposing the main point or the purpose of the argument. The question may run as The main point of the passage is that. 8. Bold faced questions that ask you to identify the relationship between the two bolded statements In the consumer’s argument, the two portions in boldface play which of the following roles? 9. Questions that ask you resolve a paradox or discrepancy in a given question. The question may run as Which of the following, if true, would explain the discrepancy described above? 10. Complete the given argument questions, in which in you are required to complete the argument with a given conclusion Which of the following most logically completes the argument? It is important to note that areguments are built on the strength of one’s own beliefs and prior experiences. Although the validity of these beliefs and experiences themselves are not under question, it is the conclusions that emanate from these factors that are under the lens. Hence it is primarily vital to identify these premises, which are normally past happenings or study results or survey reports or similar such things. The other important thing is to appreciate that these premises are assumed to be correct and that one is required to take them on their face value. If we start questioning the validity of these premises, then the conclusion can not stand on firm grounds
  • 3. However, sometimes some premises are not explicitly stated. The evaluator is required to identify them before validating the conclusion. Such unstated premises are called assumptions. Normally an assumption is said to be present when the conclusion is found to be substantially deviating from the essence of the premises. Without taking into account of the hidden factor, the given conclusion may not be possible to arrive at. Such conclusions drawn with out the help of the hidden premises, may be severely weakened, when these assumption are negated. But one important factor to remember here is that even though an assumption is unstated premise, but, unlike a premise it is not always considered true or fully valid. These assumptions may turn out to be false and questionable. A weakener premise will always go against the grain of all the other premises and hence the directions of the given premises and of the choices are vital to know before determining the weakening factors. Similarly, the strengthener will go along with the existing premises and their directions should be clearly established before evaluating an argument. It should also be remembered that weakeners, strengtheners, inferences, except questions, analogies etc occur after conclusions. But such factors as paradoxes, improper logic and flaw lead to erroneous conclusions and in fact occur before the conclusion. A particular aspect of the weakeners, strengtheners and assumption questions is that in all these cases, in some form or other an assumption will running through the argument. We can see this happening in these question types, when we deal with them individually. One handy tool for solving critical reasoning questions in GMAT is the use of the process of elimination. Of the five choices, two or three choices are fillers that fall far outside the scope or the ambit of the argument. Many irrelevant matters will be raised and they are easy to be cast aside in the first case. The students should practice defining the scope of the argument and see whether the argument falls within the ambit of the argument. For example, if the conclusion is discussion of labor welfare, let the choice not delve into consumer welfare. Or if the argument considers sales of a company in a particular year, production is irrelevant and even sales in any other year may be outside the scope. After eliminating the off-scope choices, attention should be drawn on the remaining one or two choices. Each of these choices should be tested against the particular strategies relevant to each of the choices and the final choice chosen. Reject choices containing word such as "always" and "must.", in toto, leaving no room for a few exceptions. Normally these are part of wrong choices.
  • 4. Choices that contain factors that try to whip up strong emotions or those with sweeping and radical generalizations are usually wrong