Critical Reasoning: Evaluation on GMAT

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How to Attempt Critical Reasoning- The "Missing-link" Approach

Many previous GMAT aspirants have reported that critical reasoning is an especially complex portion of the exam. The key to overcoming this complexity and tackling these questions is to approach them in a systematic manner. It is especially important to handle critical reasoning questions, systematically, as a failure to do so will not only lead to a lower score, in this section, but also take up much of your valuable time. Here, we will cover the best approach for you to take on the GMAT critical reasoning questions.

The Missing Link Approach

At Experts’ Global, we call this strategy the missing link approach. To understand this highly organized approach, you must begin by understanding the the nature of the GMAT critical reasoning passages. Each passage will include a "premise" and a "conclusion"; however, the “conclusion” will not logically follow the “premise”. They key to solving these questions is to identify the gap between the "premise" and "conclusion", which we call the “missing link”.

Although, you should note that there is no need for you to fill in the missing link. You only need to identify it, so that you can use it to identify the correct answer choice. Please go through the step-by-step guide, provided below, to understand this approach.

1. Read the question, before reading the passage. Doing so will allow you to understand exactly what type of question it is, strengthening, weakening, etc., and approach the passage, accordingly.

2. Read the passage very carefully and make a mind-map rather than taking note, to save time.

3. Identify the missing link by seeing where the gap in the passage's reasoning is. The missing link is whatever information is needed to connect the premise of the passage to its conclusion that is not provided.

4. Have an idea of what you are going to search for in the answer choices. This step is quite important.

5. Finally, use the "grid" to eliminate four answer choices. Remember, it is not about finding the one correct answer choice; it's about finding the best among the five answer choices. When you eliminate four answer choices, the one that is left is the correct answer choice.

Characteristics of an Evaluation Statement

As is the case with the other types of questions that we have discussed here, the understanding the missing link is vital when tackling evaluation-based critical reasoning questions. Here, we will cover the characteristics of evaluation statements on GMAT critical reasoning.

The Evaluation Statement

The reason the missing link is very prominent in GMAT evaluation questions because a correct evaluation statement will act upon the missing link and lead to the finding of some fact or data that shall help in the assessment of the argument. Keep in mind that this finding need not necessarily help or hinder the argument. The point is not to find information that can strengthen or weaken the argument; it is to evaluate the exercise. Remember, the evaluation’s outcome can strengthen or weaken the argument, both are equally valid. Please go through the following example to understand this concept.

Example 1 - Which of the following will help in evaluating the argument?
The GDP of Xitora has grown by 15% during the tenure of the current political party. Hence the political party has done a good job and deserves a second term.

The missing link in this passage is the link between the 15% GDP growth and the performance of the political party, and the conclusion is that the party has done a good job and should stay in power.

We will now consider the following answer choice.

Whether GDP is an important factor in deciding the performance of a political party.

The only factor that has been taken into account, when determining the argument’s conclusion, the quality of the party’s performance and its suitability for a second term, is Xitora’s GDP growth. Therefore, we can say that he validity of the conclusion hinges on GDP’s suitability as a metric for judging a political party’s performance. Therefore, this answer choice is a good evaluation statement. Understanding whether GDP is an important factor in judging a political party's performance will help to evaluate the conclusion's validity. Depending on whether the GDP is important or not, the conclusion could be weakened or strengthened. However, that is not an element that we have to take into account here.

Let us now go through a few more answer choices for the same passage and missing link.

Example 2 - Whether the government played an important role in achieving the growth in GDP.
In example 2, whether the evaluation is positive or negative, understanding the extent of the government’s role in achieving GDP growth will provide us with a better understanding of their performance. Therefore, example 2 is also a correct evaluation statement.

Example 3 - Whether a 15% growth in GDP is satisfactory, considering Xitora's socio-political situation.
This answer choice can seem a bit complicated, at first glance. However, if we simplify it a little, we arrive at a statement asking whether 15% GDP growth is good enough to say that the ruling party has done well in this regard. In this answer choice, we see a common tactic that GMAT questions employ. GMAT questions often employ high numbers, as we tend not to question them and fall into the trap of using our general knowledge and common sense to judge the statements.

Thus a statement that questions the praiseworthiness of a 15% GDP growth is also a good evaluation statement.

Example 4 - Whether the performance of the government was satisfactory in on other factors in deciding the performance of a government.
As the given conclusion talks about the overall performance of the government but is based on only the GDP; therefore, an evaluation of how the government performed on other relevant factors is relevant, and example 4 is an excellent evaluation statement.


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