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Critical Reasoning: Boldface on GMAT





Here is a set of free short videos for stepwise preparation of Critical Reasoning: Boldface on GMAT. For a more detailed treatment of the topic, you may want to opt for our GMAT online course or our GMAT test series of 15 mock tests.


Strategy for Solving CR Boldface Questions



Here, we will cover how to answer boldface critical reasoning questions, on the GMAT, effectively. In GMAT boldface questions, a passage will be provided that has one or more portions in boldface. The question will be to determine what role those portions play in the passage.

Strategy for Solving GMAT Boldface Questions


Step 1: Identify the conclusion of the argument.
Step 2: Link the bold part(s) with the conclusion.
Step 3: Know what you are going to look for in the options.
Step 4: Use the grid system to eliminate four answer choices. The remaining, fifth, answer choice will be the answer.

Please pay close attention to the following example to understand this strategy.

Example 1 - In the given argument, what roles do the boldfaced sections play?
The GDP of Xitora has grown by 15% during the tenure of the current political party. This is the highest growth since any tenure over the previous 100 years. Since the GDP growth is a fine indication of the economic growth of a party, the party has been applauded for its role in the achievement. However, recent opinion polls reflect a steep decline in the popularity of the party owing to its perceived softness on longstanding social, economic, and diplomatic issues. Therefore, the party is unlikely to win another term in the forthcoming elections.

Mind Map: GDP growth has been great--> party deserves credit-->party has been soft on other issues-->not likely to win elections

First of all, let us begin by understanding what the conclusion of this passage is. In this case, the conclusion appears to be the second bolded section, itself, that the party in unlikely to win another term, making our task of understanding how the bolded sections relate to the conclusion a bit easier. The first bold part is an argument, implication, or fact that the argument tried evaluating the implication of. In the process of doing so, the argument talked about the government's performance on other fronts and concluded that the party was not going to win the elections. Thus, the first boldface section is a statement, fact, or implication, whose implication is being examined by the argument, and the second boldfaced section is the conclusion of the argument.

Having understood the expectations of this question, we can now go through the answer choices. Remember, always make sure to fully understand the question, itself, before taking a look at the answer choices.

Option 1 - The first is a circumstance whose implication the argument seeks to evaluate; the second is the main conclusion.
Here, option 1 is actually the correct answer choice. It describes the roles of the two boldface sections, perfectly, and lines up with our expectations.

Option 2 - The first is a finding that the argument seeks to evaluate; the second opposes the finding.
The first half of option 2 is, in fact, correct; as we have described above, the first boldface section is a finding that the passage seeks to evaluate. However, this is not the correct answer choice, as the second part is incorrect. If the second boldfaced section opposed the finding, it would say that the GDP has not grown by 15%.

Option 3 - The first is a fact that opposes the main conclusion; the second is the main conclusion.
In option 3, we see the inverse of option 2; the second half is correct but the first half is not. We will take a close look at this answer choice as it is a very close answer choice, making it a potentially dangerous trap. Suggesting that the GDP has grown by 15% is not suggesting that the party is likely to win, thus opposing the conclusion. While this fact could lead to a slightly different prediction, the role of the first boldfaced section, in the reasoning, is not to oppose the main conclusion; it is simply to mention something positive that the party may have done or had a role in.

Option 4 - The first is a finding that helps derive a conclusion; the second is the conclusion.
Option 4 is a very interesting answer choice, but it is not likely to be the correct one. In all likelihood, the conclusion mentioned here is that the party must be applauded for its role in achieving a 15% growth in GDP, as that is the most logical conclusion to stem from the fact that the GDP of Xitora has grown by 15% during the tenure of the current governing party, the information presented in the first boldface section. However, this is not the conclusion mentioned in the second boldfaced section; that is the main conclusion of the passage, that the party is unlikely to win another term in the forthcoming elections.


Frequently Used Vocabulary in Boldface Questions



Elsewhere, on this page, we have defined the parameters of GMAT boldface questions. These questions consist of a passage, wherein one or more sections will be in boldface. The question will ask you to determine what those sections’ role in the passage is. While the questions are highly logical and straightforward, they do have a vocabulary of their own that many GMAT candidates find perplexing. Unless you are already familiar with the words and phrases commonly associated with GMAT boldface questions, it is very easy to become confused by them. Here, we will cover some of the vocabulary, most commonly seen in GMAT boldface questions, including both nouns and verbs.

Nouns


1. Conclusion –“Conclusion” is used to refer to the main point of the argument, in boldface questions.

2. Judgment –“Judgement” is used to refer to any particular individual or group's opinion. An opinion, of course, is any type of statement that is subjective in nature.

3. Prediction –“Prediction” is also a term used to refer to opinions. However, this term differs from others such as it, in that it specifically refers to an opinion about a likely outcome.

4. Evidence –“Evidence” is used to refer to hard data and facts that can be used to draw inferences.

5. Fact - In GMAT boldface questions, "fact" is only used to refer to information that is known to be true, definitively.

6. Opinion –As we mentioned above, “opinion” means someone's individual point of view.

7. Main Conclusion –Boldface arguments often contain more than one conclusion; there can only be one main conclusion, however. The "Main Conclusion" is the final conclusion of the argument.

8. A Conclusion –In contrast to number 7, the term "A Conclusion" refers to one of the intermediate conclusions of the argument.

9. Circumstance –In the context of GMAT boldface questions, “conclusion” refers to any sort of fact or condition.

10. Assumption - An “assumption” is a supposition. This means that it is to be taken as truth, even though there is no proof in its favor.

11. Consideration - "Consideration" refers to some type of careful thought.

12. Finding - A finding is some form of fact or information that is discovered. This is in contrast to information that is freely provided.

13. Explanation - An explanation is a statement that clarifies something by providing information.

14. Objection - An objection is a statement that opposes or challenges some other information.

15. Claim –“Claim” is similar to "assumption". Both are, essentially, assertions made without proof.

16. Position –On GMAT boldface questions. “position” refers to a stance taken by someone.

Out of the sixteen terms listed here, the most common are circumstance, evidence, fact, conclusion, opinion, judgment, and assumption.

Verbs


1. To Oppose - On the GMAT, the term "to oppose" means "to challenge".

2. To Establish - "To establish" refers to establishing facts. Another way to put this is that “to establish” means proving something.

3. To Evaluate – On the GMAT, “evaluating” is synonymous with “examining”.

4. To Imply - The term "to imply", essentially, means to suggest something.

5. To Introduce - On GMAT, "to introduce" refers to “introducing” information. This term is employed in the context of new information being bought up.

6. To Support –In GMAT boldface questions, “support” is used in the context of supporting, which means strengthening, an argument.

7. To Undermine - Conversely "undermine" means to weaken an argument.

8. To Challenge - Of course "to challenge" means the same thing as "to oppose". The two terms are, largely, interchangeable.

9. To Describe - On the GMAT, the term "to describe" is used to mean "to elucidate".

Out of these nine verbs, "to support", "to explain", "to evaluate", "to establish", and "to oppose" are the ones that you will see most frequently on GMAT boldface questions.


Key Points for Boldface Questions



In GMAT critical reasoning boldface questions, the purpose is to determine what role the bolded portions, of the passages, play. Boldface questions, often, put GMAT candidates on the back foot. The main cause for the candidates’ confusion tends to be the format and, somewhat oblique, vocabulary used by the questions. Due to the introduction of these new elements, many candidates come to doubt their abilities and make avoidable mistakes.Here, we will cover the key points to keep in mind regarding the GMAT boldface questions.

The Key Points


To begin with, do not be nervous. Despite their, seemingly strange, natureboldface questions are extremely logical and it is entirely possible to get 100% accuracy on them. It is actually quite common for GMAT candidates to report that they completed the GMAT without a single incorrect boldface question. The main reason why students tend to be scared of the boldface questions is that they do not have the proper strategy for tackling them. Having covered this strategy, elsewhere on this page, we will now recap it.

Strategy Recap


The first step of this strategy is identifying the conclusion of the passage. Secondly,connect the passage’s boldface sections with the conclusion. The third step is very important; you must be sure to maintain a clear picture of what to expect from the answer choices, or else you will be confused by the vocabulary, associated with the answer choices.

As you may have ascertained by now, it is vital to familiarize yourself with the unique vocabulary of boldface questions. We have gone through said vocabulary, at length, elsewhere on this page.You may want to go through that section, very carefully, to ensure that you understand the nomenclature, associated with the GMAT boldface questions.

Finally, when answering the boldface questions on your GMAT, follow the grid method for eliminating incorrect answer choices, as always. Remember, on the GMAT, it is not about finding a perfect answer choice, or the "correct" answer choice; it is about finding the most appropriate of the five answer choices presented. Have the grid in place, and once you have eliminated four answer choices, the one that is left is the best answer choice.


Vocabulary Test 1 for Boldface Questions



By this point, you should know what exactly the nature of a GMAT Boldface question is. These questions include a passage, wherein one or more sections have been bolded. You will then have to determine the role of those passages in the broader passage. Due to the complex vocabulary associated with this type of GMAT question, many candidates find boldface questions to be especially challenging. Thus, we have put together a few vocabulary tests on the same. Here, you will find the first of five such tests.

Vocabulary Test #1


Please read the passage below and then go through the list of terms below it. To improve your understanding of how to identify terms on GMAT boldface questions, see which of them can apply to the bolded portion. Once you have arrived at your answer, read further to see an explanation for each option.

The GDP of Xitora has grown by 15% during the tenure of the current political party. This is the highest growth since any tenure over the previous 100 years. Since the GDP growth is a fine indication of the economic growth of a party, the party has been applauded for its role in the achievement. However, recent opinion polls reflect a steep decline in the popularity of the party owing to its perceived softness on longstanding social, economic, and diplomatic issues. Therefore, the party is unlikely to win another term in the forthcoming elections.

-Main Conclusion
-A Conclusion
-Fact/Finding
-Opinion
-Judgment
-Circumstance
-Evidence
-Prediction
-Assumption
-Consideration

Answers


First, please go through the mind map for the passage.

Mind Map: GDP growth has been great--> party deserves credit-->party has been soft on other issues--> not likely to win

1. Main Conclusion - The boldface portion clearly, and quite plainly, states a fact that is not based on any other information. Thus, it cannot be called a conclusion, let alone the main conclusion of the passage.

2. A Conclusion - As mentioned above, the bolded portion is not a conclusion of any kind.

3. Fact/Finding –Again, as mentioned above, the bolded portion states a fact very clearly. Thus, this is a fine way to refer to it.

4. Opinion –The bolded section presents information that is treated as a hard fact, rather than someone’s subjective viewpoint. Therefore, it cannot be called an opinion.

5. Circumstance - This is a fitting label for the bolded portion.

6. Evidence - The bolded portion can be described as evidence, although that is not the role that it plays in this passage.

7. Prediction –The bolded section makes no inferences, so it cannot possibly be a prediction.

8. Assumption –As we have already established, the bolded section conveys a hard fact. This means that it cannot be an assumption.

9. Yes, this bolded portion could be called a consideration, under most circumstances. However, in this reasoning, the bolded portion does not play the role of consideration.

Therefore, the two most appropriate options are Fact/Finding, and Circumstance.


Vocabulary Test 2 for Boldface Questions



In this section, you will find the second of our five vocabulary tests for the GMAT boldface questions. Please go through this test, carefully, to understand the exact meanings of the complicated terms associated with the GMAT boldface questions and hoe to identify them.

Vocabulary Test # 2


After reading the following passage, please go through the list of terms below it, and see which can apply to the bolded portion. Once you have arrived at your answer, read further to see an explanation for each option.

The GDP of Xitora has grown by 15% during the tenure of the current political party. This is the highest growth since any tenure over the previous 100 years. Since the GDP growth is a fine indication of the economic growth of a nation, the party has been applauded for its role in the achievement. However, recent opinion polls reflect a steep decline in the popularity of the party owing to its perceived softness on longstanding social, economic, and diplomatic issues. Therefore, the party is unlikely to win another term in the forthcoming elections.

-Main Conclusion
-A Conclusion
-Fact/Finding
-Opinion
-Judgment
-Circumstance
-Evidence
-Prediction
-Assumption
-Consideration


Answers


Before trying to find the answers, please go through the mind map for the passage.

Mind Map: GDP growth has been great--> party deserves credit-->party has been soft on other issues--> not likely to win

1. Main Conclusion – From the mind map, we know that the main conclusion of the passage is that the party is unlikely to win a second term. Thus, it is clear that the bolded section is not the main conclusion.

2. A Conclusion - The bolded section is not an intermediate conclusion either.

3. Fact –While the bolded section can be considered a fact, as it is an objective statement, this would be a somewhat weak choice, as the information is not a hard fact.

4. Opinion - This is a good potential answer, as the information presented cannot be called a hard fact, as mentioned above. It would be more accurate to call the bolded section an interpretation of information.

5. Judgment - This is also a fine choice, largely for the same reasons that make "Opinion" a good option.

6. Circumstance - The bolded section is not a circumstance.

7. Evidence –As has already been established, the bolded section cannot be called a firm fact. Thus, it cannot be considered “evidence”, as well.

8. Prediction - The bolded section is not a prediction. The bolded section takes the form of information presented in support of a statement, not speculation on a potential occurence.

9. Assumption - The bolded section is not an assumption, as there is no inference being made.

10. Consideration - Yes, this bolded section can be described as a consideration.

Thus, the three terms that can apply to the bolded section are "opinion", "judgment", and "consideration". Considering the role that the bolded section plays in the passage, the best term is "consideration". The bolded section acts as a consideration to lead to the intermediate conclusion that the party must be applauded for its role.


Vocabulary Test 3 for Boldface Questions



In this section, you will find the third of our five vocabulary tests for the GMAT boldface questions. Please go through this test, carefully, to understand the exact meanings of the complicated terms associated with the GMAT boldface questions and hoe to identify them.

Vocabulary Test # 3


After reading the following passage, please go through the list of terms below it, and see which can apply to the bolded portion. Once you have arrived at your answer, read further to see an explanation for each option.

The GDP of Xitora has grown by 15% during the tenure of the current political party. This is the highest growth since any tenure over the previous 100 years. Since the GDP growth is a fine indication of the economic growth of a party, the party must be applauded for its role in the achievement. However, recent opinion polls reflect a steep decline in the popularity of the party owing to its perceived softness on longstanding social, economic, and diplomatic issues. Therefore, the party is unlikely to win another term in the forthcoming elections.

-Main Conclusion
-A Conclusion
-Fact/Finding
-Opinion
-Judgment
-Circumstance
-Evidence
-Prediction
-Assumption
-Consideration

Answers


Before trying to find the answers, please go through the mind map for the passage.

1. Main Conclusion - While this bolded section is a conclusion, it is not the main conclusion. From the mind map, we can see that the main conclusion is that the party is not likely to win.

2. A Conclusion - The bolded section is an intermediate conclusion, drawn from the first half of the paragraph. It is not the main conclusion, but it is part of the chain of conclusions in this passage.

3. Fact/Finding - The bolded section is not a fact, for sure, as it is clearly the author's stance on a subject, not a firm reality.

4. Opinion - As mentioned above, the bolded section is the author's stance on the subject, meaning that, on the GMAT, it can be called an opinion.

5. Judgment –Similarly, the bolded section can also be called an opinion. In it, the author provides his or her own stance on a subject. Thus, on the GMAT, this bolded section can be called an opinion.

6. Circumstance - The bolded section is not a circumstance.

7. Evidence - As the bolded section is not a firm fact, it will not be considered a piece of evidence, on the GMAT.

8. Prediction –The author does not speculate on any future events, in the bolded section. Thus, it cannot be called a prediction.

9. Assumption - The bolded section is, obviously, not an assumption.

10. Consideration - The bolded section can be called a consideration, but given its role in the passage, this would be a weak choice.

All things considered, given the role that the bolded section plays in the passage, the most appropriate term to use for it would be "a conclusion".


Vocabulary Test 4 for Boldface Questions



In this section, you will find the fourth of our five vocabulary tests for the GMAT boldface questions. Please go through this test, carefully, to understand the exact meanings of the complicated terms associated with the GMAT boldface questions and hoe to identify them.

Vocabulary Test # 4



After reading the following passage, please go through the list of terms below it, and see which can apply to the bolded portion. Once you have arrived at your answer, read further to see an explanation for each option.

The GDP of Xitora has grown by 15% during the tenure of the current political party. This is the highest growth since any tenure over the previous 50 years. Since the GDP growth is a fine indication of the economic growth of a party, the party has been applauded for its role in the achievement. However, the recent opinion polls reflect a steep decline in the popularity of the partyb> owing to its perceived softness on longstanding social, economic, and diplomatic issues. Therefore, the party is unlikely to win another term in the forthcoming elections.

-Main Conclusion
-A Conclusion
-Fact/Finding
-Opinion
-Judgment
-Circumstance
-Evidence
-Prediction
-Assumption
-Consideration


Answers


Before trying to find the answers, please go through the mind map for the passage.

Mind Map: GDP growth has been great--> party deserves credit-->party has been soft on other issues--> not likely to win

Main Conclusion The bolded section, clearly, does not describe the main conclusion of the passage. From the mind map, we can see that the passage’s main conclusion is that the party is not likely to win. However, the bolded section does have a connection to the main conclusion; it is a piece of evidence, presented in its support.

A Conclusion –Related to the point made above, not only is the bolded section not the passage’s main conclusion, it is not a conclusion of any sort. The bolded section consists of information that is stated, plainly, not determined by analyzing other information.

Fact –Within the context of the passage, the bolded section is, certainly, a fact. The information in the bolded section is presented as objective and there is nothing else in the passage that contradicts it.

Opinion - The bolded section is not an opinion, although it is understandable why you might be confused on this point, as the bolded section mentions opinion polls. Remember, while an opinion may be subjective, the existence of the polls is not. Whether the poll occurred, what it found, etc., are all subjective, and even quantifiable, entities.

Judgment – Similarly, the boldface section cannot be called a judgement.The section, simply, presents facts; it does not evaluate them. Since opinion polls are objective, terms such as fact and evidence are better fits for this question.

Circumstance –“Circumstance” can be applied to this boldface section, but it is a rather weak choice.

Evidence - This is a very good choice, as the information presented in the boldface is being used to support the main conclusion.

Prediction - The bolded section does not speculate on future events, in any way, meaning it is not a prediction.

Assumption - The bolded section states information and does not make any assumptions, so this is a poor choice.

Consideration –The term consideration can also be used to refer to the boldface, although it would be a bit of a weak choice.

Based on the above reasoning, fact, evidence, circumstance, and consideration are the most fitting terms for this boldfaced section. If we are to select one of these terms, then “evidence” is the best candidate. In the context of this passage, the bolded section is evidence that is used to support the final conclusion. The fact that the current party in power has seen a steep decline in popularity polls is used to support the conclusion that it will not win a second term.


Vocabulary Test 5 for Boldface Questions



In this section, you will find the fifth and final vocabulary test that we have prepared, for the GMAT boldface questions. Please go through this test, carefully, to understand the exact meanings of the complicated terms associated with the GMAT boldface questions and hoe to identify them.

Vocabulary Test # 5


After reading the following passage, please go through the list of terms below it, and see which can apply to the bolded portion. Once you have arrived at your answer, read further to see an explanation for each option.

The GDP of Xitora has grown by 15% during the tenure of the current political party. This is the highest growth since any tenure over the previous 50 years. Since the GDP growth is a fine indication of the economic growth of a party, the party has been applauded for its role in the achievement. However, the recent opinion polls reflect a steep decline in the popularity of the party owing to its perceived softness on longstanding social, economic, and diplomatic issues. Therefore, the party is unlikely to win another term in the forthcoming elections.

-Main Conclusion
-A Conclusion
-Fact/Finding
-Opinion
-Judgment
-Circumstance
-Evidence
-Prediction
-Assumption
-Consideration


Answers


Before trying to find the answers, please go through the mind map for the passage.

Mind Map: GDP growth has been great--> party deserves credit-->party has been soft on other issues--> not likely to win

Main Conclusion –Here, we can see that the first choice is a fitting answer. The bolded section can be called the main conclusion of the passage, as it is the ultimate result of the passage’s reasoning and the information presented within it.

A Conclusion –As mentioned above, the bolded section is a conclusion. However, we cannot refer to it as, simply. “a conclusion”. On the GMAT “a conclusion” refers to intermediate conclusions, conclusions that are separate from the main conclusion of the argument.

Fact –On a separate note, the bolded section is a somewhat subjective statement. It is the author’s interpretation of information present in the passage. Thus, it cannot be taken as a fact.

Opinion –As we have established above, the bolded section is a subjective statement, based on the author’s interpretation of information. Thus, it can be called and opinion.

Judgment –For the same reasons that it can be called an opinion, the bolded section can also be referred to as a judgement.

Circumstance –The bolded section in in no way a circumstance.

Evidence - The bolded section is the main conclusion of the passage. Thus, it is highly unlikely that it could be meant to serve as evidence for some further conclusion.

Prediction –In the bolded section, the author speculates on the outcome of a future event, the upcoming elections. Therefore, the bolded section can, certainly, be called a prediction.

Assumption - The bolded section makes no assumptions.

Consideration - The bolded section is in no way a consideration.

Thus, main conclusion, opinion, judgment, and prediction are the potential answer choices here. Considering the specific role played by the bolded section in this passage, the best choice here is clearly, "main conclusion".



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