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CR: identify question type first or understand the passage?

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CR: identify question type first or understand the passage?  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Feb 2019, 10:33
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Hi all,

Hope everyone is doing well.

I've recently realized that I need to improve my CR ability. I've read both Powerscore CR and have gone through the e-gmat course. Both emphasize the importance of understanding the argument BEFORE looking at the question type. This is the process I've used for about 4 months, so I would say this particular process is pretty ingrained in me.

A friend of mine has recommended Manhattan Prep's CR guide as a resource; he swears by it. My only issue is that in manhattan prep's process they recommend identifying the question type FIRST and then deconstructing the argument. I'm wary of learning a completely new process at this stage of my test prep (aiming to be ready to take the exam in 30 days)

In fact, Powerscore actually states that in their experience "high-scoring GMAT takers read the stimulus first". (but my friend scored pretty well, and I'm sure many others have scored very highly using Manhattan prep's tried and trusted process)

I'm at a bit of a crossroads and so I wanted to get the community's thoughts on what you guys think about this.

Thanks in advance to everyone. And best of luck to you all.
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Re: CR: identify question type first or understand the passage?  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Feb 2019, 11:53
Most GMAT prep resources recommend that test takers read the question stem first. Personally, I am more comfortable reading the stimulus first and then identifying the question time; reading the question stem first somehow makes me lose focus and concentration. Having said that, I believe the choice is totally yours. In other words, you must determine which approach works best for you. I would suggest that you practice 5-10 questions for one week using both the options and see which approach fetches you a higher accuracy under time constraints. All the best.
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Re: CR: identify question type first or understand the passage?  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Feb 2019, 12:44
Hi mukhia,

When dealing with CR prompts, reading the question first (and the prompt second) can provide you with 2 significant benefits. First, by knowing what the question is actually asking for, you have an idea about how you should think about the prompt as you read it (for example, should I be thinking about how to support or weaken this prompt.... should I be looking to 'connect' a couple of the ideas to form an inference, etc.). Second, sometimes the question actually provides a 'hint' as to what part of the argument you should be focused on (for example, whose side of an argument you should be attacking/defending). Not knowing those 'pieces' of the prompt in advance can potentially slow down your thinking (since you might then have to go back and reread the prompt to process what the exact question is asking for). If you're looking to improve in CR, you have to be open to the idea that you have to change "your way" of thinking about these questions.

Beyond that, it's possible that you need to work on other areas of the Quant or Verbal sections, so it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) How long have you studied?
2) What study materials have you used so far?
3) How have you scored on EACH of your CATs/mocks (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores for EACH)?

Goals:
4) What is your goal score?
5) When are you planning to take the GMAT?
6) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
7) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

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Re: CR: identify question type first or understand the passage?  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Feb 2019, 13:15
mukhia wrote:
Hi all,

Hope everyone is doing well.

I've recently realized that I need to improve my CR ability. I've read both Powerscore CR and have gone through the e-gmat course. Both emphasize the importance of understanding the argument BEFORE looking at the question type. This is the process I've used for about 4 months, so I would say this particular process is pretty ingrained in me.

A friend of mine has recommended Manhattan Prep's CR guide as a resource; he swears by it. My only issue is that in manhattan prep's process they recommend identifying the question type FIRST and then deconstructing the argument. I'm wary of learning a completely new process at this stage of my test prep (aiming to be ready to take the exam in 30 days)

In fact, Powerscore actually states that in their experience "high-scoring GMAT takers read the stimulus first". (but my friend scored pretty well, and I'm sure many others have scored very highly using Manhattan prep's tried and trusted process)

I'm at a bit of a crossroads and so I wanted to get the community's thoughts on what you guys think about this.

Thanks in advance to everyone. And best of luck to you all.


Practice a few questions and see what works best for you.

Personally, I read the passage first. Over time, you will actually be able to guess what the question stem would be just by reading the passage (I could)
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Re: CR: identify question type first or understand the passage?  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Feb 2019, 15:24
Hi mukhia.

In working with people, I used to push them to read the passage first, feeling that having the question in mind can distract a test-taker from really understanding the passage.

Also, I find that, even if you do not read the question first, you can to at least some degree tell what you have to notice in the passage in order to answer the question, and really, regardless of what type of question you are going to answer, you have do do the same thing when you read the passage, fully understand the passage and notice key details.

However, many people just feel more comfortable reading the question first, and, while I personally prefer to read the passage first and find reading the question first to be both distracting and a waste of time, the truth is that, in Critical Reasoning, but NOT in Reading Comprehension, if one is careful, either way works about as effectively as the other.

So, I eventually realized that different people have different ways of operating and that, since there is not much difference between reading the passage first and reading the question first, probably, in this case, people just should do what feels more natural for them unless one or the other is really causing them problems for some reason.

So, the upshot of all of this is that, if you are accustomed to reading the passage before you read the question, then there is no reason to switch now.

That said, a little decision like this one is not going to make or break your CR performance. What will make your CR performance soar is getting better at understanding the passages, noticing details, and defining the logical relationships between what the passages say and what the answer choices say. So, for increasing your CR score, your best move is take your time answering practice questions and learn to clearly define exactly why each incorrect choice is incorrect and each correct answer is correct.
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Re: CR: identify question type first or understand the passage?   [#permalink] 16 Feb 2019, 15:24
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