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Critical Reasoning (Part 3: The Critical Reasoning Process)

In this article, we’re going to continue our discussion of best practices for the critical reasoning section of the GMAT exam. You can either read this article or watch this GMAT critical reasoning video on YouTube. To make things easier to digest, we’ve broken the contents of the video up into 3 parts and three different blog posts. In this segment, hosted by one of MyGuru's most experienced GMAT tutors, we will outline the overall steps of the critical reasoning process. In part 1 of this series of articles, we discussed the frequency and format of critical reasoning questions and their strategic implications. In part 2, we worked through examples of inference and argument critical reasoning questions. If you haven’t yet read those, we suggest you go back and make sure you understand them first.  


Critical Reasoning Steps

Step 1: Determine the type of question being asked in the critical reasoning prompt, whether it is an argument or inference-style question. This will help guide the evaluation process.

Step 2: Read and make notes on the prompt accordingly. For argument tasks, note the exact conclusion(s) being presented, and for inference tasks, take note of the factual statements provided.

Step 3: For argument tasks only, make a preliminary prediction on what type of answer would address the question being asked, such as strengthening, weakening, identifying flaws, assumptions, evaluating, justifying, etc.

Step 4: Utilize common incorrect answer choices to eliminate potential choices during the evaluation process. Below, we’ve outlined some of the most common elimination tools you can implement for argument and inference tasks respectively.


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Elimination Tips

Argument tasks

Common wrong reasons you can use to eliminate answer choices:

  • Reverse impact: You are asked to strengthen an argument, but the answer choice weakens it instead. 
  • Vague impact: Answer choices use ambiguous quantifiers like "some," which can be interpreted in multiple ways and lack clarity. 
  • Insufficient information: Additional information is needed to determine the impact of an answer choice on the argument. 
  • No impact: Answer choices have no impact on the argument being evaluated. If the truth or falsehood of the statement has no effect on the argument, it can be considered as having no impact.

Inference tasks

Slightly different wrong reasons you can use to eliminate answer choices:

  • Reversal of information from the passage: Answer choices in which the content of the passage is exactly reversed. 
  • Extreme inferences: Answer choices make generalizations that expand beyond the scope of the passage.
  • Reasonable but not certain: Options that can be difficult to eliminate because they appear reasonable, but are not necessarily accurate.


We hope this overview of the critical reasoning process has demystified the steps necessary to excel on these kinds of questions

To see all of our GMAT sentence correction videos, please check out our YouTube playlist. For further information about MyGuru's proven GMAT tutoring approach, visit the GMAT prep page on our website. To learn more about the GMAT and grad school admissions in general, visit our GMAT admissions blog

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