Put the Critic in Critical Reasoning
(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)
Perhaps it’s just the age in which we live, but people nowadays are much better at criticism than praise, and at skepticism than optimism. Perhaps it’s just our love for Jon Lovitz’ role as “The Critic”, or our drive to consistently identify where we can improve, but we tend to do a better job of analysis when we seek out flaws in something than when we see it as sufficient as it is.
You can use this tendency to your advantage when approaching Critical Reasoning questions, as certain question stems give you the opportunity to choose your role — critic of the argument, or defender of the argument. These questions may ask:
“Which of the following studies would be most useful in assessing the validity of the argument?”
“Which of the following is an assumption upon which the argument depends?”
In either of these cases, if you can try to anticipate bad news — either the study would reveal damaging information, or the assumption turns out to be invalid — you will awaken your inner skeptic and tend to be more efficient of the flaws contained within the argument. In short, when a question gives you an option of how to approach an existing argument — you could either take the role as a defender/owner of the argument, or of a skeptic — you’ll likely find it easier to be critical of the argument, as that’s just human nature these days.
For more help on the GMAT, take a look at the free GMAT practice resources that Veritas Prep offers.