How do I Score Well on GMAT&Reg; Critical Reasoning?

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  • Written By: Cindy Quarters
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2019
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The Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®) is designed to help colleges determine which applicants to their graduate-level business management programs are likely to do well in the programs. The test is divided into three parts: the analytical writing section, the quantitative section and the verbal section. The verbal section includes the critical reasoning questions. The best way to score well on this section is through preparation — understanding the testing format, learning strategies for taking that particular part of the test, and studying the subject matter.

It is important to be familiar with what is involved when you are preparing for the GMAT® critical reasoning section. The test uses computer-adaptive technology that picks the test taker’s next question based on whether his answer to the previous question was correct or incorrect. While this has multiple advantages, it also means that skipping a question and changing an answer once entered aren’t possible. Instead, the test relies on the computer’s ability to adapt to ensure that the test taker makes his way back to questions of an appropriate level.


Once a student is familiar with the testing format, he should work on strategies specific to the GMAT® critical reasoning section. One such strategy is to read the question first, then read the applicable passage, identifying objective, factual information within the text. Look for keywords such as “thus,” “consequently” and “hence” to help find conclusions in the passage. Eliminate obviously incorrect choices from the list of answers, to narrow down the choices. Test the remaining answers by reading the question and filling in the blank with each to identify which one makes the most sense.

There are different types of questions on the GMAT® critical reasoning section, and each type typically contains clues to help identify what kind of answer is being sought, making it easier to find the appropriate answer. The words “oppose” or “nullify” indicate the question is looking for an answer that opposes the passage’s conclusion, while “support” and “strengthen” indicate the answer will contain support for the conclusion presented in the text. Analysis and logic pattern questions ask that specific information from the passage be identified; these necessitate close, careful reading to determine the right answer. Questions with the word “explanation” are looking for identification of contradictions or missing information from the passage.

Being familiar with the types of questions possible can help a student work through the GMAT® critical reasoning questions quicker and with better success. One way to become familiar with the question types is to study and practice taking the test. Free test-preparation software is available for download, as of 2011, from the GMAT® website to help students study. Other study programs also are available, both online and off.


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