Critical reasoning section is one of the most feared sections in the GRE test. This section tests the ability of a person to analyse logical arguments. One has to simply learn how to interpret a given statement. There is no specified area from where these statements are given- it covers a range of topic and diverse areas which a test taker is expected to understand. Finally after reading, analysing and synthesizing the information, one has to pass an ‘informed’ judgement.
All this can be achieved with a few strategies and tricks which uncomplicated this presumably complex process.
But before that we have to know the type of Questions we get in the Critical Reasoning section.
Usually we see the following question types:
- COMPLETE THE PASSSAGE/CONCLUSION
- STRENGTHEN/WEAKEN argument
- BOLD FACE PARTS OF AN ARGUMENT
TIPS AND STRATEGIES
Here are 10 Strategies you need to keep in mind while tackling the Critical Reasoning part:
- UNDERSTAND HOW TO STUDY THE FACTS IN THE ARGUMENT: One should identify the premise and the conclusion, i.e. what is stated vs. what is it actually leading up to? Often there may be statistical figures and surveys given in a question, it is usually assumed that the people who are surveyed represent the general populace.
2. PREVIEW QUESTION BEFORE READING PASSAGE: Rather than speed reading, actively reading a passage is more desirable. Active reading means reading with a purpose to understand and answer logically. In order to save time simply skim the passage and jump to the questions. In doing so you will have actively read the passage enough number of times to get a clear understanding and avoid mistakes.
3. USE YOUR OWN WORDS: Paraphrase a passage’s point or main idea using one verb meaning is it criticizing or descriptive etc.. Then use your own words to simplify the sentences as if you are trying to explain it to a school going kid then you can choose the most logical solution.
4. ANSWER QUESTION BEING ASKED: Don’t just ‘guess-timate’ know exactly what is being asked. Often we lose track of what is being asked simply by overlooking the given information. This happens to the smartest of us. Avoid this simple but fatal flaw and try to read the information exactly as asked and don’t let your personal opinions lead you to a biased answer.
5. FOR INFERENCE TYPES -MIMIC THE REASONING: Follow the same line of reasoning that was. Often the correct answer will take a similar format – in terms of answer length or argument structure. We have to look for something that is restating the conclusion/supporting evidence.
6. ELIMINATE THE WORD COMPLEXITY (PICK THE OBVIOUS ANSWER CHOICE): We are usually told that the solution to a complex problem is the simplest of solutions. Applying the same to the question and simplifying it will help you solve the problem. Look for defenders that will take you straight to the point. Avoid extreme answers i.e. the ones that are too strong or too weak in its assumptions.
7. KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ASSUMPTION AND CONCLUSION: An assumption is merely an unstated (implied) premise. For assumption questions, negate CR answer choice to see if the conclusion can survive. WHEREAS a conclusion as the author’s hypothesis; your job is to find the answer choice that can test that hypothesis. The answers usually provide an ‘IF A then not B’ type of scenario.
8. FOR STRENGTHENING -IDENTIFY CONCLUSION or something that will SUPPORT the conclusion with additional information. In CR this is the only Question type where one can look for information outside the given facts. Strengthen the evidence with this new piece of information and make the argument work. Usually the answer lies in statements that connect evidence with conclusion.
9. FOR WEAKENING -IDENTIFY THE PREMISE AND CONCLUSION: Unlike in case of strengthening arguments, in this question type, we assume an answer choice presented to be true – even if it introduces new information. We are looking for anything that’ll show an error/ gap between scenarios presented by the author.
10. BEWARE OF TEST MAKERS’ TRAPS: Sometimes the test makers try to trick you by starting with one conclusion instead of the actual one and then make it seem like that is the correct answer. This will lead the test takers to become confused and be misled into choosing the wrong answer choice.
So there you go in short the one thing more powerful than any mantra is PRACTICE, the more you apply these tips and go about answering your paper, the more likely you will understand the test makers’ mind and be able to solve it with ease.