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Tips/Advice for Upper Level Critical Reasoning Questions

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Tips/Advice for Upper Level Critical Reasoning Questions  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Dec 2018, 15:22
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Hi All,

For those that have a solid understanding of CR, I'd greatly appreciate your advice. I am relatively strong on SC and RC but have a major deficiency in understanding more complex CR arguments. Sometimes, the prompts are just too overwhelming to understand what is going on, and other times, I don't like any of the answer choices, probably because my brain is not able to recognize the logic behind certain answer choices. As a result, I overwhelmingly get wrong the more challenging CR questions and have a lower Verbal score (High 30's) despite my strong understanding of SC and RC. I would greatly appreciate any advice the community has to be able to get at least 50% of those harder CR prompts as I feel this missing skillset is preventing me from reaching the 40's in Verbal. Thank you.

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Re: Tips/Advice for Upper Level Critical Reasoning Questions  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Dec 2018, 18:17
Hi gmatconqueror2018,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. To improve in Critical Reasoning, you first need to master the individual Critical Reasoning topics: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, etc. As you learn about each question type, do focused practice so you can track your skill in answering each type. If, for example, you get a weakening question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize the specific question type? Were you doing too much analysis in your head? Did you skip over a keyword in an answer choice? You must thoroughly analyze your mistakes and seek to turn weaknesses into strengths by focusing on the question types you dread seeing and the questions you take a long time to answer correctly.

Another major mistake that people make when training for CR is that they do practice questions too fast. To get Critical Reasoning questions correct, you have to see exactly what's going on in the passages and answer choices, and you likely won't learn to do so by spending a few minutes on each question. At this stage of your training, you may need to spend even fifteen minutes on each question, learning to see what there is to see. Here is a way to look at this process: If you get a new job in a field in which you are not experienced, you may not be as fast as the other people working with you, but you know you have a job to do and you make sure you learn all the angles, so that you do the job well, if not as quickly as those around you, Rushing through the job and doing it incorrectly would not make sense. Then, as you gain more experience, you learn to do the same job more quickly. Think of Critical Reasoning questions similarly. Your job is to do what? To get through questions quickly? Not really. Your job is to get correct answers.

So, first you have to learn to get correct answers, generally at least 10 to 15 in a row consistently, and more in a row would be better. That is your job, and if it takes you fifteen minutes per question to get correct answers consistently, then so be it. Only after you have learned to get correct answers consistently can you work on speeding up. Working quickly but not doing your job is useless. Better to work slowly and learn to do your job well. You can be sure that with experience, you will learn to speed up, and then you will still be doing your job well, i.e., getting correct answers consistently.

Finally, a key aspect of getting correct answers to Critical Reasoning questions is noticing the key differences between trap choices and correct answers. Trap choices can sound temptingly correct but don't get the job done. The logic of what a trap choice says simply doesn't fit what the question is asking you to find. So, to get better at your job, learn to see the key differences between trap choices and correct answers.
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Re: Tips/Advice for Upper Level Critical Reasoning Questions  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Dec 2018, 18:47
ScottTargetTestPrep wrote:
Hi gmatconqueror2018,

I’m glad you reached out, and I’m happy to help. To improve in Critical Reasoning, you first need to master the individual Critical Reasoning topics: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken the Argument, Resolve the Paradox, etc. As you learn about each question type, do focused practice so you can track your skill in answering each type. If, for example, you get a weakening question wrong, ask yourself why. Did you make a careless mistake? Did you not recognize the specific question type? Were you doing too much analysis in your head? Did you skip over a keyword in an answer choice? You must thoroughly analyze your mistakes and seek to turn weaknesses into strengths by focusing on the question types you dread seeing and the questions you take a long time to answer correctly.

Another major mistake that people make when training for CR is that they do practice questions too fast. To get Critical Reasoning questions correct, you have to see exactly what's going on in the passages and answer choices, and you likely won't learn to do so by spending a few minutes on each question. At this stage of your training, you may need to spend even fifteen minutes on each question, learning to see what there is to see. Here is a way to look at this process: If you get a new job in a field in which you are not experienced, you may not be as fast as the other people working with you, but you know you have a job to do and you make sure you learn all the angles, so that you do the job well, if not as quickly as those around you, Rushing through the job and doing it incorrectly would not make sense. Then, as you gain more experience, you learn to do the same job more quickly. Think of Critical Reasoning questions similarly. Your job is to do what? To get through questions quickly? Not really. Your job is to get correct answers.

So, first you have to learn to get correct answers, generally at least 10 to 15 in a row consistently, and more in a row would be better. That is your job, and if it takes you fifteen minutes per question to get correct answers consistently, then so be it. Only after you have learned to get correct answers consistently can you work on speeding up. Working quickly but not doing your job is useless. Better to work slowly and learn to do your job well. You can be sure that with experience, you will learn to speed up, and then you will still be doing your job well, i.e., getting correct answers consistently.

Finally, a key aspect of getting correct answers to Critical Reasoning questions is noticing the key differences between trap choices and correct answers. Trap choices can sound temptingly correct but don't get the job done. The logic of what a trap choice says simply doesn't fit what the question is asking you to find. So, to get better at your job, learn to see the key differences between trap choices and correct answers.


Hi Scott,

Thank you for your suggestions. Right now after answering each CR question, I always analyze my thought process as how I got to the correct answer (or incorrect answer). I have gotten a bit better at eliminating the out of scope choices by always asking myself "what does the conclusion say"? And does this choice (strengthen the conclusion, weaken it, perhaps resolves the mystery, etc). I know the harder CR questions follow the same logic as the other medium questions but have extra layers to them that require a bit more thinking and skepticism, especially of the answer choices. I need to earn a 650+ on my upcoming GMAT (Jan 10) but am personally aiming for a 700+(Probably 700-730 range). I feel if I am able to get at least 50% of the tough CR questions, I'll be in good shape (And of course hopefully committing no careless mistakes).

One question I have is how do I deal with CR prompts that present convoluted information, typically info regarding science, chemical, cells etc. The vast number of terms makes it difficult for me to comprehend the argument, which leaves me vulnerable when I look down at the answer choices. I'd appreciate your input on this issue. Thank you.

gmatconqueror2018
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Re: Tips/Advice for Upper Level Critical Reasoning Questions  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Jan 2019, 10:07
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Hi gmatconqueror2018,

So, you ask a really great question. What you need to understand regarding all CR questions is that they must contain sound logic and thought regardless of the subject matter. Thus, if you are presented with a convoluted science question, rather than immediately panicking, SLOW DOWN and read each word and phrase carefully, one by one, until you fully understand the information presented. The information may seem confusing at first, but if you make sure that you understand each sentence before going to the next sentence, you will find that the information is not that complex after all. Yes, doing so will take time at first. However, over time, you will develop skill in understanding these passages and read them more naturally.

Keep in mind that increasing your CR score tends to involve becoming better at getting and keeping a group of ideas straight in your mind and becoming better at what I sometimes call "unconfusing yourself." By going through passages carefully, you can develop these skills, with the result that you will have more success in answering "harder" CR questions and and increase your CR score.

Feel free to reach out with further questions.
_________________

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Re: Tips/Advice for Upper Level Critical Reasoning Questions &nbs [#permalink] 04 Jan 2019, 10:07
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