# GMAT Tip of the Week: Critical Rebounding

Whether you’re counting your bracket money from March Madness or looking forward to this week’s NBA Playoffs, basketball is in the air these days, and it offers a great opportunity for you to look at what good GMAT strategy looks like. You can see it particularly in kids or other pickup players – the NBA guys are all too good at it but you can pick it out there, too – the more aggressive the player, the more rebounds he collects. Many players are content to do what the coaches advised, to box out the opponent next to them and get in position for the rebound…but then they sit back and wait for the ball to fall in their hands. The elite players, really at any level, are those who have that extra instinct to GO GET THE BALL. They attack aggressively, not sit back passively. They get the rebound. And they’d be able to put that same technique to use on GMAT critical reasoning.

If you watch enough students attempt critical reasoning problems, you see the same theme. By far, most students are happy to box out and let the answer fall in their hands – they’ll identify the conclusion, take note of the premises, and then scan the answer choices for symptoms of a correct answer. They’ll say things like:

“Well, A repeats some of the same words so it might be right.”
“B just doesn’t seem relevant so I think I’ll eliminate that.”
“C kind of has some relevance to the conclusion so that could be the right answer.”

And they’ll talk around the problem without ever really going and getting it. Just as in rebounding, passivity is a recipe for mediocrity in critical reasoning. The best critical reasoners are aggressive – they’re on the attack. How can you become an aggressive critical reasoned?

1) Get mad at it. When you read the stimulus, accept that the argument will be weak, and focus your attention on finding and exploiting that logical weakness. The word “critical” is the first word of the question name for a reason – a major part of your job is to criticize the argument. Be skeptical from the beginning and treat the exercise as though you’re cross-examining whomever created such a flimsy argument. Be aggressive.