Critical Reasoning: Explanation on GMAT

Here is a set of free short videos for stepwise preparation of Critical Reasoning: Explanation 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.

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 Explanation Statement

Here, we will cover the nature and use of explanation statements, another of the primary elements that act upon the missing link, in GMAT critical reasoning questions. Once again, we must reiterate that it is vital to understand this concept, given the importance of working upon the missing link to solve critical reasoning questions.

The Explanation Statement

When tackling a GMAT explanation question, you will most likely be asked to address a paradox, a discrepancy between the premise and the conclusion. These paradoxes arise from the gap in logical reasoning between the premise and the conclusion, and a correct explanation statement should clarify the absurdity/paradox and fill the missing link. The missing link approach that we have described, elsewhere on this page, is a fine approach to solving such questions.

Now, please take a close look at the following live examples.

Example 1 - Which of the following will resolve the paradox in the reasoning?
The GDP of Xitora has grown by 15% during the tenure of the current political party. This growth is highest among all tenures over the last 50 years. However, the party has not done a good job and must not get another tenure.

The missing link here is between the GDP growth and the conclusion that the did a bad job and does not deserve another tenure.

If this passage is taken to be correct, in that Xitora’s GDP growth is the highest its been in 50 years, the conclusion does not logically follow. The natural conclusion that would flow from a statement informing us that a party had managed to achieve a record high GDP growth would be that the party has done a good job.

We will now take up the following answer choice, as a potential explanation statement.

- The growth in GDP was primarily due to the growth in the private sector and the government had an insignificant role in it. Moreover, the crime rate was at its all-time peak.

The answer choice does a very good job of resolving the paradox. It brings in additional information, the fact that the credit for the high GDP growth should go to the private sector, simply shifting credit for the growth away from the government. Therefore, this answer choice is a fine explanation statement.

We will now take up another answer choice, for the same passage and missing link.

Example 2 - During the same tenure, the GDP of other similar economies grew by more than 20%.
Answer choices of this sort are not, usually, correct on the GMAT, as they can be accused of extrapolation. However, in this case, an analogy has been drawn by grouping similar economies together. Thus, if the GDPs of other, similar, economies grew at a much higher rate, the government cannot be said to have done a good job. To put it simply, example 2 suggests that 15% is not an impressive growth rate for such an economy and the government should have done a better job, meaning that this answer choice has successfully resolved the paradox.


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