GMAT Critical Reasoning (CR): Overview and Preparation Tips

The GMAT score is used as an admission prerequisite for a graduate in management & business programs. It’s used to assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English. About a third of the questions that appear in the GMAT verbal section is critical reasoning questions. In this post, we will discuss an overview of the critical reasoning section and the preparation strategies as well.


GMAT Critical Reasoning: Format Overview and Preparation

Co-authored by Parinita Gupta


Many candidates feel that critical reasoning is the most difficult part of GMAT that needs to have much concentration to solve them. Though Critical Reasoning questions are little time taking, if you practice on then they are easy to solve them within no time.


So let’s first discuss a few things in detail regarding Critical Reasoning (CR) type questions and learn how to crack them easily.


GMAT Critical Reasoning Question Types


We have to understand one thing, not all questions are similar. There are 5-6 patterns only in the section. Before solving or trying to understand the question we have to know in which pattern that particular question falls in. Once you understand the question type then solving will become an easy part of the exam.


Majorly there are basically 6 types with sample questions of CR question patterns.


1. Explanation questions: These questions are very easy to solve. If you find the keywords like resolve, paradox, explain, harmonize, reconcile, discrepancy, then such questions are Explanatory questions.


GMAT Critical Reasoning
Source: PrepScholar


2. Support/strengthen-the-argument questions: You really have to support your solution if you find the keywords support, strengthen credibility, and similar words. In such type of questions, you have to support the passage’s reasoning and conclusion.


GMAT Critical Reasoning Format
Source: PrepScholar


3. Oppose/weaken-the-argument questions: In this pattern, common keywords will be undermined, nullifies, doubt, weaken. In this case, you need to oppose the author’s conclusion.


GMAT Critical Reasoning Pattern
Source: PrepScholar


4. Assumption questions: If you come across the words like based on reliable, assumption, dependent on, then you have to assume the question and give a solution. Your answer should highlight the argument which will be completely based on assumptions.


Critical Reasoning Section of GMAT
Source: PrepScholar


Assumption Question in Critical Reasoning of GMAT
Source: Unacademy


5. Logic patterns: Logical Pattern type of questions are a bit tougher one. There are no such clear keywords, which highlights the pattern of the question. But by observing many previous questions, if you find the words like parallel, similar, and carefully try to understand that they are the logical structure of an argument.


GMAT Critical Reasoning Practice
Source: PrepScholar


6. Analyze the passage questions: Analyze type questions seems to be easier, but it is a little complex to identify as the keywords are not specific. If you find, the words like implied inference or asked to choose a true answer based on a single point, you have to understand that the question has to be analyzed from the passage.


GMAT Critical Reasoning Preparation
Source: PrepScholar


7. Necessary v/s Sufficient Questions: Necessary vs Sufficient condition questions are considered to be among the trickiest question in GMAT. In above-mentioned question types, there will some clue which helps us to find the appropriate answer, while in Necessary Vs Sufficient type questions we cannot find any clue as everything is interlinked.


GMAT Critical Reasoning Tips
Source: eGMAT


Necessary type occurs when a  particular event happens if a particular condition meets while sufficient type occurs when an event is guaranteed in certain conditions. In this type, we generally find the words like “must”, “if”, “only if”, “unless”, etc., which is the main condition or the requirement in the solution.


GMAT Critical Reasoning: Necessary vs Sufficient Questions
Source: MBA Crystal Ball


GMAT Critical Reasoning Strategies


Till now we understood the pattern and type of questions we are going to deal with. Now let us go through the strategies and tips which are very important to solve the CR questions in GMAT.


  1. 1st thing to do is to understand the question and recognize it to ensure the question type. If you could understand the 1st step then the rest of the question and solution seems to be easier.
  2. Irrespective to the type of questions, try to answer these 4 self-formed questions,
    a. What information do you need to find for this type of CR question?
    b. What analysis do you need to do on that information?
    c. What characteristics you should expect of the right answer?
    d. What characteristics you should expect of the wrong answer? All these 4 questions will help you to find the most relevant solution and also help you to understand the pattern or kind of question that has been appeared.
  3. Apart from the keywords, divide the question into 3 categories: (a) Basic (b) Clue and (c) Conclusion.
    a. Basic- What is the central point that has been highlighted.
    b. Clue- What is the clue mentioned in the question.
    c. Conclusion – From the given solutions try to conclude it with the most appropriate one.
  4. Know all the terminologies which will save a lot of time.
  5. Understand the clear difference between conclusion and causation and be never attempt any opposite answer choices.
  6. Be through with all the methodologies of reasoning.


GMAT Critical Reasoning Tips
Source: PrepAdviser


GMAT Critical Reasoning Tips


There are main 4 things which need to be understood while writing the exam.


  1. Manage the time- Try to be as quick as possible. Have an eye on question number and the timer which is going on.

  2. Simplify the language –Questions are quite very difficult to understand. Simplify it. Break the questions into pieces and re-read it twice.

  3. Use your own thoughts and language– Convert the question in your easily understandable language. Try to identify the pattern and put up your solutions to it. While solving the questions remember the relevant terminologies, methods, and ideas. This will ensure you select the most relevant solution.

  4. Answer only what is being questioned– Out of curiosity and stress we try to give more or land up giving less. Instead of this, push yourself only to answer what has been asked for. Never ever give more than what they are actually looking for.


Practice! Practice! Practice! – Practice definitely makes man perfect. Cracking GMAT within 3 months is very easy if you practice a lot. Go through previous papers, guides, question banks.


  • Look up for as many as Mock tests as you can.

  • Learn with the help of Diagrams, charts, bullet points. This allows you to remember well and correctly.

  • Go for coaching. Experienced people really have a lot to share and a lot to learn from them. Try to choose the best GMAT prep materials.

  • Never lose hope and degrade yourself, instead work more which will give you the utmost happiness and success which you are looking for.


The Official GMAT Guide (OG) is the best way to get started. You can buy the Official Guide for GMAT Review on Amazon & Flipkart. You could also get started with CAT prep materials (TIME or Career Launcher).


Online Self-Preparatory Resources for GMAT


GMAT Math Official Guide 2018

GMAT Verbal Comprehensive Guide

GMAT Data Sufficiency: Ultimate Guide

GMAT Probability Problems

GMAT Verbal-Critical Reasoning

GMAT Math Preparation Class

Ultimate GMAT Essay – Ace the Essay in 1 week

Break Away: GMAT Verbal – Sentence Correction

Complete GMAT Preparation Course with Mock Tests


Before we wrap up this post, here are 5 common mistakes to avoid in GMAT Critical Reasoning:

Original Source of Featured Image: CrackVerbal

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