First off, you should watch our Critical Reasoning lesson videos if you haven't already done so! The first video in this series is here.
The first step to getting better at Critical Reasoning questions is to understand the argument — you need to understand the pieces of the argument and be able to identify the argument's conclusion. Then think about the logic that connects the pieces of the argument.
So you need to really understand what the passage is saying, rather than just looking for words like "therefore" and "however." If you find this difficult, you may need to improve your reading comprehension. The best way to do this is to read every single day. I'd suggest that you read an hour per day! When you read, read actively. Here's a list of suggested reading material:
And make sure to check out Kevin's videos on active reading:
It's very important that you have good reading comprehension skills before you begin to focus on the logic part of Critical Reasoning questions!
Once you've brushed up on your reading comprehension skills, you can start focusing on the logic of Critical Reasoning questions. You need to be able to take the argument apart and identify its specific pieces (conclusion, premises, and assumptions).
This will help you weed through the answers. The key to Critical Reasoning questions is to look for wrong answers, rather than the right answer. Once you've eliminated all the wrong answers, you'll be left with the correct answer choice. This is easier than trying to find the right answer right off the bat!
As you go through the answers, make sure that you don't bring in your outside knowledge, and avoid making inferences that are not based solely on the text.
It's also important that (1) you are able to identify the Critical Reasoning question type and (2) you know the common wrong answers for each question type. This will help you to eliminate wrong answers! Our Critical Reasoning lesson videos explain what the common wrong answers are.
Keep in mind that, in order to improve, you need to do lots of practice and rigorously review each problem you've answered. Just because you answered a question correctly doesn't necessarily mean that you've fully understood the attendant concept. You should review every question (even the ones you got right) and really spend the time to understand each question after you answer it. Don't move on to the next problem until you're 100% clear on why the right answer is correct and why the wrong answers are incorrect. Take notes on the different wrong answer types that you come across during your practice sessions. Also, take careful notes on the wording of the question and its connection to the question type.
You may also want to take a look at our blog posts about Critical Reasoning — there's a lot of helpful tips there!
The following blog posts may be particularly useful:
- Introduction to GMAT CR
- Save Time on GMAT CR Questions
- How to Weaken an Argument
- Find the Conclusion or Inference
- GMAT CR Populations
- Evaluate the Conclusion
- GMAT CR Practice Questions
- More GMAT CR Practice Questions
Keep working hard, do lots of practice questions, and carefully review each problem you've answered! As you practice, you'll get better and better at breaking down arguments. As you learn this skill, your accuracy on Critical Reasoning will improve!