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Critical Reasoning 101 - How to appraoch GMAT CR

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Critical Reasoning 101 - How to appraoch GMAT CR  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Jul 2014, 22:28
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Critical Reasoning 101 - How to appraoch GMAT CR


In the first article on the CR 101 series we talked about argument structure and procedures to approach and deconstruct a critical reasoning argument. Those two steps are the first half of the 4 step approach to be followed in almost all critical reasoning problems


Non - Approaches for Critical Reasoning problems on the GMAT - by MGMAT


Here is a list of what NOT to do while approaching a Critical Reasoning problem on the GMAT.
    1. Read the argument pretty quickly, don’t take notes, don’t understand the “big picture’
    2. Read the question
    3. Realize need to read the argument again in order to answer; re-read argument
    4. Re-read question
    5. Examine answers, eliminating one or several
    6. Read the argument yet again
    7. Eliminate another answer
    8. Start checking each answer against the argument and re-reading argument
    9. Repeat until one answer is left

What’s the problem? Thats incredibly inefficient! Inefficiency both wastes time and makes it harder for us to answer the question correctly. There’s too much going on, and that can distract us from our goal. So what do we do instead?

4 step Approach for CR questions


    Step 1: Identify the question.
    Step 2: Deconstruct the argument.
    Step 3: State the Goal.
    Step 4: Work from wrong to right.

Step 1

Categories of Critical Reasoning Questions



Structure Based Questions
Question FamilyQuestion TypeQuestion PhrasingGoal
Structure basedDescribe the RoleIn the argument given, the two boldface portions play which of the following roles?Identify the roles of the boldface portions
Structure basedDescribe the ArgumentIn the passage, the reporter challenges the political leader's argument by doing which of the following?Describe the structure of the argument
Assumption basedAssumption"The argument depends on which of the following assumptions?"Identify an unstated assumption.
Assumption basedEvaluateIdentify an unstated assumption."Identify a piece of information that would help to determine the soundness of the conclusion."
Assumption basedFlaw"Which of the following indicates a flaw in the reasoning above?""Identify something illogical in the argument."
Assumption basedStrengthen"Which of the following, if true, provides the most support for the argument above?"Strengthen the author’s conclusion.
Assumption basedWeaken"Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?"Attack the author’s conclusion.
Evidence basedInference"Which of the following can be logically concluded from the passage above?""Identify something that must be true based upon the given information"
Evidence based"Explain a Discrepancy""Which of the following, if true, most helps to explain the surprising finding?""Identify something that eliminates some discrepancy or paradox given in the argument."


Step 2

Deconstruct the argument


We are going to use the same example that we used in the first post of the 101 series

The mayor of the city recently announced the construction of seventeen high-rise buildings in and around the area of Mira road, a northern suburb of Mumbai. The construction of these new buildings will create a large amount of pollution, a nuisance for residents who live near the construction sites. However, many of the residents in the neighborhood work in civil and mechanical construction, and the contract to construct the buildings has been tendered to a local construction company. So, the construction of the buildings will lead to an increased quality of life for the residents of Mira road.

High Rise ↑ → Pollution ↑ - Bad for res
BUT, Construt work to local co. → better life

Concl. → High Rise ↑ = Better life


Deconstruct argument exercise


1. Budget Fitness will grow its membership base by 10% in the next six months. Budget Fitness has recently crafted a clever ad campaign that it plans to air on several local radio stations.
2. Last year, the Hudson Family Farm was not profitable. However, the farm will be profitable this year. The farm operators have planted cotton, rather than corn, in several fields. Because cotton prices are expected to rise dramatically this year, the farm can expect larger revenues from cotton sales than it previously earned from corn.


Step 3: State the Goal

People often forget to lose track of what they are trying to achieve while deconstructing the argument in full force. Take a step back after you are done with deconstructing and make sure your thought process is aligned to the question that is asked.

Step 4: Work from Wrong to Right

MGMAT way to deal with answer choices
Finally, the answer choices! On verbal in general, we’re asked to find the “best” answer. We’re going to use a two-step process in order to accomplish this. First, we look through all five answers and eliminate as many “definitely wrong” answers as we can. On this first pass through the answers, we’re not actually trying to decide which is the right one, only which ones are definitely wrong. If we only have one answer left, great; we’re done. If we have two or more answers left, then we compare
those remaining answers. Why do we do it this way? By definition, finding the best answer is a comparison; if I spot a tempting answer, I can’t know whether it’s the best one until I’ve seen all of the others. It’s most efficient to dump all of the “no way” answers as fast as we can, and then directly compare the remaining, more tempting
answers. Finally, we have one last important rule to remember for verbal questions: when we’ve narrowed down to two answers, we should look at each answer and compare the two once more, but then we should pick and move on. Going back and forth multiple times is a waste of time— either we know it after
comparing the first time or we don’t. As we go through and assess these answers, it’s critical to keep track of our thinking—we’re actually going to track what we think about each of the five answers as we go. There are two big decisions to make in terms of how you choose to do this.

How do I write down ABCDE?



If E is the OA

A B C D E

A B C D E

A B C D E

A B C D E

Get on your Boots!


Over the past decade, many companies have begun using automated telephone services; callers hear a machine-generated voice and are able to select options using the numbers on the telephone keypad. Research shows that callers are more patient when the machine-generated voice is that of a woman. Thus, smaller companies that cannot afford an automated service should consider hiring women, rather than men, to interact with customers by phone.

Which of the following, if true, would be most damaging to the conclusion above?

(A) Automated telephone services are becoming cheaper and cheaper every year.
(B) Patient customers tend to order more products and return fewer products than impatient customers.
(C) A separate study indicated that the extra patience exhibited by callers is limited to interactions with an automated system.
(D) Some customers prefer automated systems to talking with a live person.
(E) On average, callers are only slightly more patient when interacting with a female voice, rather than a male voice, in an automated telephone system.

Step 1: Identify the Question

Which of the following, if true, would be most damaging to the conclusion above?

“most damaging to the conclusion" means this is a Weaken. I need to find the conclusion, and I need to think about what flaws or gaps might exist between the premises and the conclusion.


Step 2: Deconstruct the argument

Over the past decade, many companies have begun using automated telephone services; callers hear a machine-generated voice and are able to select options using the numbers on the telephone keypad.

1Oy: coms use auto phone Sounds like background, but I'll jot down a note anyway.


Research shows that callers are more patient when the machine generated voice is that of a woman.
Concl. → High Rise ↑ = Better life

R: female = ↑ patience This is a fact, not a claim, so it has to be either a premise or counterpremise. It's probably a premise, since there's only one sentence left.[/textarea]

Thus, smaller companies that cannot afford an automated service should consider hiring women, rather than men, to interact with customers by phone.

Small com use women phone This is the only claim, so its the conclusion. Now I can go back and add a © to the conclusion in my notes and a + to the premise.[/textarea]

Step 3: State the Goal

The conclusion is that small companies should hire women to answer the phones, because callers are more patient when hearing automated female voices.

I need to weaken the conclusion, so that would mean there's some reason why companies might not be better off hiring women to answer the phones.

Hmm. The evidence is about automated female voices, while the conclusion is about real women. Is there
any kind o f disconnect there?]


Step 4: Work from wrong to right

(A) Automated telephone services are becoming cheaper and cheaper every year.

The conclusion discusses what companies should do when they can't afford automated services. If the service becomes cheap enough that a particular company can buy it, that company no longer has to worry about whether to hire women or men to answer the phones.

A B C D E

(B) Patient customers tend to order more products and return fewer products than impatient customers.

This is a good reason for the company to do whatever it can to keep its customers in a patient mood. If anything, that would strengthen the argument.

A B C D E

(C) A separate study indicated that the extra patience exhibited by callers is limited to interactions with an automated system.

Hmm. This creates a distinction between automated and live voices... I was wondering earlier whether that might be the disconnect. There doesn't seem to be any evidence now that a live female voice will make callers more patient. Keep this one in.

A B C D E

(D) Some customers prefer automated systems to talking with a live person.

Presumably these customers would be more patient with an automated system... oh, but this argument is only about those companies who can't afford the system and are using real people. Nope, this isn't it.

A B C D E

(E) On average, callers are only slightly more patient when interacting with a female voice, rather than a male voice, in an automated telephone system.

This one seems to be telling me there isn't a huge difference between male and female voices— but there is still a small positive effect for female voices. If anything, this strengthens the argument; after all, as a small business owner, Til take any necessary steps that will get me more business! I only have one answer left, so C is the answer.

A B C D E


- This is the second article of the critical reasoning 101 serious. Find the first one on "Argument Structure" HERE
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Re: Critical Reasoning 101 - How to appraoch GMAT CR  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Feb 2016, 23:14
Is there any other article to this series?
Looking for : how to solve bold face question; evaluate questions; and determine flaw questions
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Re: Critical Reasoning 101 - How to appraoch GMAT CR   [#permalink] 17 Feb 2016, 23:14
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