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Critical reasoning questions compose a little less than one third of all the questions on the verbal

section of the GMAT. Every critical reasoning question has three componentsan argument, a
question stem, and three answer choices. The argument is a short passage (three to four
sentences, on average) that explains a specific situation; the question stem defines your task in
that particular question; and the answer choices either provide new evidence or list possible
inferences, assumptions, conclusions, or flaws
Critical reasoning arguments usually present factual evidence and draw a conclusion, which may
or may not rely on certain unspoken assumptions. The conclusion of the argument usually posits
a relationship between several entities discussed in the argument. Entities can be people,
groups of people, money, businesses, or just about any noun.
What the GMAT means by critical reasoning is that test-takers must take the role of an outside
observer and identify and/or judge parts of the argument. This is a vital task in both business
school and business itself: to be able to come to a new and unfamiliar situation, quickly
determine the relevant information and the causal relationships, and judge whether a particular
conclusion is merited, or what additional information may be needed to verify that conclusion.
On GMAT CR questions, test-takers may be asked to:
Identify an unspoken assumption made by the arguments author.
Identify additional evidence that would strengthen the conclusion of the argument.
Identify additional evidence that would weaken the conclusion of the argument.
Find a logical flaw in the argument or resolve an apparent paradox in the argument.
Draw an inference or conclusion based on the given evidence.
Top 5 Critical Reasoning Tips:
1. If you have a hard time sorting out the meaning of a Critical Reasoning passage, take a
moment to identify its conclusion and the evidence (statements of fact) and assumptions
(unstated ideas) it uses to make that conclusion. The conclusion will usually be signaled by
words like as a result, or therefore.
2. If a question asks you for a statement which best weakens an argument, be on the lookout for
answer choices that do the exact opposite (i.e., strengthen the argument). The test-makers bank
on the fact that some test-takers wont be paying attention, and will pick the exact opposite of the
right answer choice.
3. Become familiar with the CR terminology. You should know the definition for the terms
assumption, inference, evidence, conclusion, paradox, logical flaw, etc. like the back of your
hand. As you go through GMAT practice tests, take note of any words in the argument, question
stem, or answer choice that confuse you.
4. Dont confuse correlation with causation. This common logical flaw occurs when an argument
concludes that one event caused another, based only on the evidence that the two events occurred
at the same time or one after the other.
5. Become familiar with frequently-used methods of reasoning. Arguments may cite many types
of evidence, but certain methods of reasoning are more effective than others and thus are more
commonly used on the GMAT. These methods include citing an authority or providing an
analogy. Common methods of countering an argument including noting ulterior motives,
pointing out an unconsidered consequence, or demonstrating a logical inconsistency.
Understanding an arguments method of reasoning can help you identify logical flaws or
determine the statement that would best strengthen/weaken the argument.
II. Typical Critical Reasoning Question Types
A. Must Be True Questions
B. Assumption Questions
C. Strengthen and Weaken Questions
D. Main Point Questions
E. Paradox Questions
F. Reasoning Questions

A. Must Be True Questions
Must Be True Questions are extremely common. These are the typical Must Be True Questions:
If the statements above are true, which of the following must also be true?
Which of the following is [implied, must be true, implicit, most reasonably drawn] in the
passage above?
Which of the following conclusions can most properly be drawn if the statements above
are true?
Which of the following inferences (inference means the same thing as "must be true" on
the test) is best supported by the statement made above? (Conclusions differ
from inferences in that conclusions are the result of premises and inferences are
something that must be true.)

How to tackle "Must Be True Questions":
1. Read the stimulus and look for the argument.
2. Note that Must Be True questions may not be an argument. They may just be a series of
facts. Nevertheless, try to find the argument.
3. MUST BE TRUE questions
B. Assumption Questions
An assumption is an unstated premise that supports the author's conclusion. It's the connection
between the stated premises and the conclusion. An assumption is something that the author's
conclusion depends upon. Assumption questions are extremely common and have stems that
look like this:
Which of the following most accurately states a hidden assumption that the author must
make in order to advance the argument above?
Which of the following is an assumption that, if true, would support the conclusion in the
passage above?
How to approach Assumption Questions
1. Look for gaps between the premises and the conclusion. Ask yourself why the conclusion
is true. Before you progress to the answer choices, try to get feel of what assumption is
necessary to fill that gap between the premises.
2. Beware of extreme language in the answer choices of assumption questions. Assumptions
usually are not extreme. "Extreme" answer choices usually contain phrases such
as always, never, or totally.
Here is an example:
Apartment building owners argue that rent control should be abolished. Although they
acknowledge that they would increase rents in the short term, owners argue that in the long
term the rent increases would lead to greater profitability. Higher profits would lead to
increased apartment construction. Increased apartment construction would then lead to a
greater supply of residences and lower prices as the potential apartment residents have a better
selection. Thus, abolishing rent control would ultimately reduce prices.

Express that complicated argument in your own words.
Premise 1: Abolishing rent control will increase the supply of housing (premise).
Premise 2: Greater supply leads to lower prices (premise).
Conclusion: Abolishing rent control leads to lower rents (conclusion). It is a supply/demand
Try to find gaps between premises.
Look at premise 1: Abolishing rent control wil
C. Strengthen and Weaken Questions
Assumptions connect premises to conclusions. You may strengthen or weaken an argument by
strengthening or weakening the assumptions. Here are some examples of Strengthen/Weaken
question stems:
The conclusion would be more properly drawn if it were made clear that...
Which of the following, if true, would most strengthen the conclusion drawn in the
passage above?
The argument as it is presented in the passage above would be most strengthened if
which of the following were true?
Which of the following,
D. Main Point Questions
In MAIN POINT questions, you have to identify the conclusion of an argument. You are trying
to find the author's point and should approach this question in a similar way to the reading
comprehension main point questions. They come in several different formats:
The main point of the passage is that...
Which of the following statements about... is best supported by the statements above?
Which of the following best states the author's conclusion in the passage above?
Which of the following conclusions can be most properly drawn from the data above?
The conclusion of arguments in Main Point questions is usually not directly stated. To find the
conclusion, identify the premises and then identify the conclusion drawn from the premises.
Main Point questions differ from the other Critical Reasoning questions in that the argument in
the stimulus is usually valid. (In most other Critical Reasoning questions the reasoning is
How to approach Main Point Questions:
1. Analyze scope: main point junk answers will typically go outside the direct scope of the
passage. Be careful to look directly at the scope of the question. Main Point answers must
be within the scope of the passage. Your opinions or information outside of the passage
are always outside of the scope.
2. Knock out answers with extreme wording. Main Point answers typically do not use only,
always, never, best or any strong words that leave little wiggle room. The right answers
on Main Point

E. Paradox Questions
These questions present you with a paradox, a seeming contradiction in the argument, and ask
you to resolve it or explain how that contradiction could exist. Paradox questions are rare and
more common at the higher skill levels. Here are some examples of the ways in which these
questions are worded:
Which of the following, if true, would help to resolve the apparent paradox presented
Which of the following, if true, contributes most to an explanation of the apparent
discrepancy described above?
How to approach paradox questions
1. Read the argument and find the apparent paradox, discrepancy, or contradiction.
2. State the apparent paradox, discrepancy, or contradiction in your own words.
3. Use POE (process of elimination). The best answer will explain how both sides of the
paradox, discrepancy, or contradiction can be true. Eliminate answers that are out of scope.
Inflation rose by 5.1% over the 2nd quarter, up from 4.1% during the first quarter of the year,
and higher than the 3.3% recorded during the same time last year. However, the higher price
index did not seem to alarm Wall Street, as stock prices remained steady.
Which of the following, if true, could explain the reaction of Wall Street?
a) Stock prices were steady because of a fear that inflation would continue.
b) The President announced that he was concerned about rising inflation.
c) Economists warned that inflation would persist.
d) Much of the quarterly
F. Reasoning Questions
Reasoning questions ask you to describe how the argument was made, not necessarily what it
says. Here are some examples of the ways in which these questions are worded:
How does the author make his point?
A major flaw in the argument above is that it...
A's response has which of the following relationships to B's argument?
How to approach Reasoning Questions
1. Read the argument and find the conclusion.
2. State the reasoning in your own words.
Extra Questions

1. Governor Dupont is an outspoken critic of agricultural subsidies for farmers in his state.
However, a local paper recently published documents proving that Dupont received $500,000 in
federal money to buy equipment for use in his apple orchards. Therefore, Dupont should be
forced to return the money or should resign from office.
If true, which of the following statements would reveal the most serious flaw in this argument?
A) There is no precedent for the resignation of a governor from office in the state.
B) The governors hypocrisy is not punishable by law
C) Since its publication of the article, the newspaper has lost the documents showing Duponts
receipt of money from the government
D) Dupont accepted the $500,000 before beginning his term as governor
E) Farmers in the state have raised the prices charged for crops by more than 50 percent, while
their operating costs have remained the same

In the Internet Age, a political candidate who buys advertising on a social network
will get maximum name recognition.
The statement above logically conveys which of the following?

Social network advertising is the most important factor in political campaigns.
Maximum name recognition on a social networking website will help a candidate to win a
higher percentage of votes cast.
Social network advertising reaches every demographically distinct sector of the voting
For maximum name recognition a candidate need not spend on media channels other than
social network advertising.
A candidate's record of achievement will do little to affect his or her name recognition.

The purpose of regulation of Cannabis (marijuana) was to restrict the growth in
the number of people consuming a "habit-forming drug" and to lower the
incidence of violent crimes. Several large newspaper publications and
organizations ran campaigns in the 1930s that demonized marijuana and
emphasized a connection between marijuana and crime. But even alcohol can lead
to abuse and violence if in the wrong hands; yet everyone today would agree that
prohibiting alcohol, a product so ingrained in people's social life today, would be
preposterous. Hence, regulation of marijuana makes no sense and should be
Which of the following, if true, would provide the most support for the argument


Alcohol has been known to cause violence and crime

The benefits of marijuana outweigh those of alcohol

The regulation of marijuana does not deter the sort of activity known to result in violent crime

The regulation of marijuana is not enforceable

Alcohol is readily available to anyone who wants to obtain it

The rate of violent crime in this state is up 35 percent from last year. The fault lies
entirely in our court system. Recently our judges' sentences have been so lenient
that criminals can now do almost anything without fear of a long prison term.
The argument above would be weakened if it were true that:


85 percent of the other states in the nation have lower crime rates than does this state.

white collar crime in this state has also increased by over 25 percent in the last year.

35 percent of the police in this state have been laid off in the last year due to budget cuts.

polls show that 65 percent of the population in this state oppose capital punishment.

the state has hired 25 new judges in the last year to compensate for deaths and retirements.

The cost to refine petroleum in Country X is 10% less than the cost of refining
petroleum in Country Y. Even after transport fees for the petroleum and tariff
charges are added, it is still cheaper for an oil company to import refined
petroleum from Country X to Country Y than to refine the petroleum in Country
The statements above, if true, best support which of the following assertions?

Labor costs in Country X are ten percent below those in Country Y.

Refining petroleum in Country X and then importing to Country Y will eliminate ten percent of
the refinery jobs in Country Y.

The tariff on petroleum imported from Country X to Country Y is less than ten percent of the
cost of refining petroleum in Country Y.

The fee for importing refined petroleum from Country X to Country Y is more than ten percent
of the cost of refining petroleum in Country X.

It takes ten percent less time to refine petroleum in Country X than it does in Country Y.

Any serious policy discussion about acceptable levels of risk in connection with
explosions is not well served if the participants fail to use the word explosion
and use the phrase energetic disassembly instead. In fact, the word explosion
elicits desirable reactions, such as a heightened level of attention, whereas the
substitute phrase does not. Therefore, of the two terms, explosion is the one that
should be used throughout discussions of this sort.
Which of the following is an assumption on which the argument above depends?


In the kind of discussion at issue, the advantages of desirable reactions to the term explosion
outweigh the drawbacks, if any, arising from undesirable reactions to that term.

The phrase energetic disassembly has not so far been used as a substitute for the word
explosion in the kind of discussion at issue.

In any serious policy discussion, what is said by the participants is more important than how it is
put into words.

The only reason that people would have for using energetic disassembly in place of
explosion is to render impossible any serious policy discussion concerning explosions.

The phrase energetic disassembly is not necessarily out of place in describing a controlled
rather than an accidental explosion

Answer Key

1 D
2 A
3 C
4 C
5 A