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GMAT critical reasoning questions

Why is it important to understand the different types of critical reasoning questions?

  1. Saves you time – By being familiar with the critical reasoning questions, you can save yourself time during your actual GMAT test.  You don’t have to re-read the question or you can read a question quickly watching for key words that indicate the purpose of the question.
  2. Reduces errors – When you are familiar with the various types of critical reasoning questions, you are less likely to make careless mistakes.

What are the different types of critical reasoning questions?

We classify the different types of critical reasoning questions into 7 buckets:

  • Support / Strengthen
  • Oppose / Weaken
  • Assumption
  • Logic patterns
  • Analyze the passage
  • Explain this
  • Other types

GMAT critical reasoning – Support or Strengthen questions 

Examples of the support or strengthen questions on the GMAT critical reasoning section are:

  • Which of the following, if correct, would strengthen the author’s conclusions about a cure for diabetes?

  • Which of the following, if true, will support the author’s argument in the passage?

  • Which of the following, if true, will give credibility to the passage’s reasoning?

If you spot the words strengthen, support, credibility or words that express similar meanings, you are most likely dealing with a support or strengthen critical reasoning question. 

For these types of questions, you need to find the answer choice that supports the passage’s conclusion or reasoning or argument. 

GMAT critical reasoning – Oppose or weaken questions 

Examples of this type of questions are:

  • Which of the following answer choices, if true, nullifies the author’s conclusion?

  • Which of the following, if true, weakens the author’s conclusion?

If you spot words like weaken, nullifies, opposes or other words with similar meanings, you are most likely dealing with a oppose or weaken critical reasoning question.

For these types of questions you need to find the answer choice that opposes the author’s conclusion. 

GMAT critical reasoning – assumption questions

Examples of the assumption questions on the GMAT critical reasoning section are:

The author’s conclusion is based on which of the following assumptions?

  • The passage assumes which of the following?

  • The conclusion is dependent on which of the following to be true?

If you spots words like based on, assumes, dependent on then you are most likely looking at a critical reasoning assumption question.

GMAT critical reasoning – logic pattern questions

Examples of the logic pattern questions in the GMAT critical reasoning section are:

  • The passage uses which of the following types of argument to support its conclusion?

  • The phrases that are in a bold font play which of the following roles in the passage?

  • The author nullifies the police’s conclusion by:

Here there are no obvious trigger words.  You will have to look carefully at the question to understand what type of question is being delivered.

GMAT critical reasoning – analysis questions

Examples of the analysis questions in the GMAT critical reasoning section are:

  • According to the passage which of the statements must be true?

  • Which of the following can be inferred from the information in the passage?

  • Which of the following is a reasonable statement based on the information in the passage?

Here again there are no obvious trigger words.  You will have to look carefully at the question to understand what type of question is being delivered.  These questions expect you to believe what you have read to be true and ask you to evaluate which of the answer choices is true based on the passage.

GMAT critical reasoning – explanation questions

Examples of the explanation questions in the GMAT critical reasoning section are:

  • Which of the following explains the conflict in the passage?

  • Which of the following, if true, best explains the theory of pink panthers described above?

Here the keywords include explain or resolve in the questions.  The questions will ask you to explain a contradiction or missing link in the passage.

GMAT critical reasoning – other questions


There are a few other types of questions that appear infrequently in the GMAT critical reasoning section.

  • Which of the following additional information can be used to test the passage’s conclusion?

  • Which of the following passages is similar in structure to the passage above?

  • Which of the following organization’s members are best suited to promote the new product launch?

Thankfully these “other questions” types do not appear too often in the GMAT critical section!   You only need to be aware that there are questions that do not perfectly fit into the six other categories that we discussed above.

General points in tackling the GMAT critical reasoning questions:

  • Assume that the answer choices are true for the sake of the question!  The critical reasoning questions most often have the clause “if true”.

  • If you are left with more than one choice choose the one that is most appropriate.  Watch out for extremes.

Remember that being familiar with the types of critical reasoning questions on the GMAT helps by:

  1. Saving you time – By being familiar with the critical reasoning questions, you can save yourself time during your actual GMAT test.  You don’t have to re-read the question or you can read a question quickly watching for key words that indicate the purpose of the question.

  2. Reducing errors – When you are familiar with the various types of critical reasoning questions, you are less likely to make careless mistakes.

Good luck!

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