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Verbal Focus: GMAT Mastery: Manage Time and Avoid Traps on CR and RC

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Verbal Focus: GMAT Mastery: Manage Time and Avoid Traps on CR and RC  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 01 Sep 2018, 23:26

GMAT Mastery: Manage Time and Avoid Traps on CR and RC

- Manhattan GMAT
On Verbal, we’re asked for the “best” answer not the “objectively correct” answer that we need to find on quantso it can be really easy to fall for a tempting trap, especially on Critical Reasoning (CR) and Reading Comprehension (RC).
Learn to work super-systematically, though, and you’ll navigate through those tempting traps to land on the right answer. (Well…most of the time, anyway :) ) Here’s what to do.

Know Your Verbal Processes

There comes a moment for CR and RC when you’re ready to tackle the answer choices, and that’s what we’re going to concentrate on today. I’m going to assume that you already know what you’re doing in general for each question type. If not, here are some resources on the overall processes.

Both Critical Reasoning (CR) and Reading Comprehension (RC) contain different question “sub-types.” You’ll need to know how to recognize what’s what so that you can apply the right kind of reasoning. Those links will take you to compilation articles that show you how to tackle any kind of CR or RC problem.

Note: Sentence Correction works a little bit differently, though some of what we talk about today will still apply to SC. When you get a chance, take a look at this SC process involving “vertical” reading and comparisons of answers. You’ve only got about 1 minute 20 seconds on average for SC, so you’ve got to learn to work fast without giving up accuracy.
(Note: if you have Manhattan Prep’s strategy guides, you don’t need to follow those links. The articles are just shorter versions of what is already taught in our books.)

Tackle The Verbal Answer Choices: 1st Pass

All right: you’ve read the argument or passage, you’ve identified the question type, you know what you’re trying to find, and you’re ready for the answers. First, assume that you are going to take two full passes through the answer choices. (This sounds like it will take forever. It won’t. Just stick with me here.)

Have you ever done this? (I know I have.)

“Yep, (B) looks good; the passage does talk about that. [Reading the remaining answers because I know I’m supposed to do so.] Hmm, I wonder how I’m doing on the test. Is my time okay? Yeah, not too bad. [I’ve read through answer (E) but I haven’t really been paying attention.] Can’t wait until this is over. Okay, so (B) is the answer.”

Basically, once you decide that a certain answer is the correct one, your mind is already moving on. The problem comes when answer (E) was actually better than answer (B)…but I didn’t notice, either because I didn't read answer (E) in the first place, or (even worse) I did read it but I wasn’t actually paying attention. Now, I’ve lost time and I’m still going to fall into the trap.
So delay your “What’s the right answer?” decision. On your first pass through the answers, your decision is strictly “No vs. Maybe.”

No = I am never looking at this answer choice again.

Maybe = I think this might be the right one…or I think this might be wrong but I’m not totally sure yet…or I have no idea what this answer choice means.

In short, cross* off everything that you’re sure is wrong and leave everything else. Don’t agonize over the “everything else.” Don’t think about whether it really is right or wrong. Just leave it and go look for more stuff to cross off until you’ve gotten through all five answers for the first time.

*When I say “cross off,” I mean “keep track on your scrap paper.” I write A B C D E at the top of my current page, spaced out a little bit, and then I keep track below those letters. I just move to a new row on my scrap paper for every new problem. (Remember that the scrap paper on the test is already linedit’s graph paper.)

I use an X for No, a squiggle (~) for Maybe, and a question mark (?) for Huh?!? (i.e., I’m not sure what this answer means.) When I’ve finally decided what to pick, I put a circle around that one and then I go pick it on the screen.

I do that all the way down the page and only rewrite A B C D E when I have to turn to the next page.

Tackle The Verbal Answer Choices: 2nd Pass

At the end of your first pass, there are three possible outcomes:

(1) You’ve crossed off 4 answers: pick the remaining one and move on
(2) You haven’t crossed off any answers: this one’s too hard, so pick your favorite letter and move on
(3) You’ve crossed off some wrong answers but not all 4 of them: now it’s time for your 2nd pass through the answers

During this second pass, you’re going to go through the remaining answers, but this time you’re going to closely compare them to each other. Before, you may not have noticed a particular difference between answers (B) and (E), but now that you only have a few answers left, you can actually compare and think about what those differences mean.

For instance, let’s say that you’re answering a Main Idea RC question. You notice this:
(B) Talks mainly about the second paragraph
(E) Talks about both paragraphs

When you first saw (B), you may have thought to yourself, “Yes, the passage does talk about that,” so you naturally left it in. Once you compare (B) to (E), though, you might realize that (B) is too narrow. Answer (E) better addresses the entire passage, so now you know that (B) is likely a trap.

On verbal, the “best” answer actually implies a comparison. There’s no way to know that (B) is too narrow until you’ve read (E). If (E) didn’t exist, in fact, then maybe (B) would be the best answer out of the available answers.

And voilà: we’ve avoided the trap! Note that this all works generally for SC too with the sole difference that, for SC, you are directly comparing answers right from the very beginning.

When warranted, you can take a 3rd pass

What if you’re not down to one answer after the 2nd pass? You can’t just keep going forever, so how long is too long?

After the 2nd pass, there are again three possible outcomes:
(1) You’ve crossed off 4 answers: pick the remaining one and move on
(2) You have more than 2 answers left: this one’s too hard; pick your favorite letter and move on
(3) You have exactly two answers left: you’re allowed to do one more pass, directly comparing these two answers

Did I emphasize that word one enough? If you do get down to two answers after the 2nd pass, then this is a tough problem but you have also made decent progress so far. At this stage, it’s worth investing another 20 to 30 seconds to do one final comparison…but that’s it.

Do not agonize back and forth. After the first direct comparison between the final two, you will either have a hunch or you won’t. If you have a hunch, pick it now; it’s not going to change the 5th time you compare them. And if you don't have a hunch, pick one now anyway; you’re not going to suddenly develop a hunch the 5th time you compare them. Give yourself one chance, sure, but then you’re done.


    (1) Work systematically on all verbal questions. Keep track of your answer eliminations on your scrap paper.
    (2) On your first pass, concentrate on crossing off everything that is definitely wrong. Don’t actually decide what’s rightnot yet. If you can't cross anything off, forget it; guess and move on.
    (3) On your second pass, directly compare any remaining answers. If you can’t get down to at most two answers at this stage, the problem is too hard; guess and move on. You’re allowed to make one more direct comparison between the last two answers…but only one more. Then choose and move on.
Good luck and happy studying!

Originally posted by souvik101990 on 21 Dec 2016, 22:23.
Last edited by workout on 01 Sep 2018, 23:26, edited 1 time in total.
Removed duplicate paragraph
GMAT Club Bot
Verbal Focus: GMAT Mastery: Manage Time and Avoid Traps on CR and RC   [#permalink] 21 Dec 2016, 22:23
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Verbal Focus: GMAT Mastery: Manage Time and Avoid Traps on CR and RC

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