I think the key here is to focus on the logical structure of the argument (and this is true for almost ALL CR questions). Think of it as a puzzle/riddle that a friend is telling you. The writer of CR problems includes pieces of information (like in a puzzle) and we should ensure we understand the role of each piece of information. I've found it helpful to practice this exercise for CR questions (i.e. make sure you totally understand the argument). Note that you can practice this virtually with the argument without looking at answer choices (i.e. even on repeat questions) - it's good practice
The process I follow is (largely in line with Manhattan GMAT
with some edits - I think pre-thinking (which e-gmat
advocates) is a very useful step but MGMAT doesn't stress it too much - i.e. it's good to have not a must have)
1. ID what type of CR question this is
2. read each statement, paraphrase to myself / visualize the sentence. Do the same for sentence 2 and see link to statement 1. Repeat for following statements. THEN synthesize the argument so you have a grasp on the CONCLUSION (if relevant) and the premises (and how they relate to the conclusion)
3. Then attack the question stem - make sure you know exactly what you need to do
4. Prethink an answer - 5-10 seconds tops. If you can't think of an answer. Just say to yourself, "ok i'm looking for answers that does XX (be specific)"
5. Eliminate definite NOs (if you arent sure, let it sit); On the second round you should ideally have 2 choices remaining. Again, eliminate the MORE wrong answer until you are left with one. Pick it and move on!
This might seem like a lot of work but if you practice this process meticulously I'm sure your accuracy will go up and (in time) so will your speed.
For ex. this question
STEP 1 - Ok, so this is an evaluate question - there will be a conclusion here and I need to figure out what question I need to ask to evaluate this argument. (i.e. binary y/n answers will either weaken or strengthen the argument)
1. Cap monkeys in Ven often rub milipedes into their fur. "hmm ok this is a fact/context. probably setting me up for the meat of the argument"
2. Secretions..debilitate the capuchins. "hmm interesting set of facts - the milis have 2 chemicals that repel mosquitoes and these mosquitoes have parasites that can cause serious harm. Ok i see that he's building a case to explain why monkeys are doing this"
3. The rubbing behavior is rare except during the rainy season, when mosquitoes are at their peak - "hmm, ok this is a peculiar observation and i kinda see what he's suggesting. he's trying to attribute this behavior during rainy season to something"
4. CONCLUSION - monkeys rub milis to protect themselves against milis -"aha i see what he's getting at - the behavior during monsoons is the nail in the coffin and that's why he's concluding this'
5. Synthesize - "ok concluding X because of Y and Z"
GOAL: what's most useful to evaluate the argument
STEP 4: PRETHINK
Hmm ok what questions would i ask the author - some thoughts that popped to me 1. ok, what if the rain makes the monkeys itchy and that's what makes them use milis to scratch? 2. what if there is anything else about the rain / the milis that make monkey use them to scratch? (i.e. it has nothing to do with mosquitoes)
STEP 5: Process of elimination
A. Ok we dont care about the milipedes here. We need to figure out why the monkeys are using them to rub
B. Irrelevant - so what if it's found in other parts of the world. We are focused on Venezuela
C. Again - we care about Venezuelan capuchins
D. HMM..ok this is a good one. If mosquitoes are only available during the rainy season then maybe it has nothing to do with the fact that rainy season has peak mosquito population. Monkeys just rub milis when they can find them and they only find them in the rainy season. This isnt a perfect question but let's keep it.
E. uh ok, we dont care about other insects. The author says monkeys use milis and he's making a conclusion as to why they use milis to rub themselves. I dont care if they CAN use other insects. Let's try variance here - YES other insects are available - ok, great but they could also use milis too. Right? NO other insects are not available - ok, great but then WHY are they using milis? (there could be a thousand other ways the monkeys can repel mosquitoes - the crux of the argument is discussing the validity of one possible cause - i.e. rubbing milis) - eliminate this
Therefore D. I took 1:45 seconds to answer this (even though the explanation makes it look like it took me 5 minutes).
This process works well for me. Let me know your thoughts.