GRE Practice: Important Tricks to Critical Reasoning Questions
Takers of GRE practice tests must be aware that they will be evaluated on two verbal sections with a total of 40 questions. The break-up of the questions can be as follows: 20 questions from Sentence Completion, 14–15 from Reading Comprehension and out of which 5–6 from the sub-category of Reading Comprehension called Critical Reasoning.
Learn Our Secret Method
You may have solved several types of GRE mock questions in Critical Reasoning, including Strengthen, Weaken, Assumption, and Inference. However, GRE gives a lot of importance to Bold-faced Critical Reasoning. In fact, quite often, two of the 5–6 questions on Critical Reasoning are of the Bold-faced variety. But we have found that many prospective test takers are worried about Bold-faced questions. They are not sure how to approach these questions, as the given passages are quite long and involve a lot of reading. Surely, there must be a faster way of tackling Bold-faced Critical Reasoning questions!
Good news! We are going to show a very quick way to solve Critical Reasoning Bold-faced questions, and if you follow our methods, you will find that these can be the easiest types of Critical Reasoning or indeed GRE mock questions that you will ever encounter.
In this article, we are going to help you master Critical Reasoning Bold-faced questions and do them in such little time that you can use the time saved for some other time-consuming part of the GRE verbal, such as the conventional Reading Comprehension.
How to distinguish between Fact and Non-fact
Using our method, you may not even need to read the entire passage. In fact, you may arrive at the answer without even knowing what the passage was all about. To understand our method, you would first need to be able to distinguish between a fact (a factual statement) and a non-fact. For instance, consider these two sentences: 1. This building is the tallest one on this street, and 2. This is the best building on this street.
One of these can be taken as a factual statement, and the other as non-factual. Here, you would need to notice the keywords, “tallest” and “best.” When you consider that “tallest” is a measurable parameter and “best” is not, you will realize that statement one is factual, and statement two represents the opinion and is therefore not factual.
Once you have understood how to distinguish between a fact and a non-fact, you are ready for the next step towards master Critical Reasoning Bold-Faced. We are going to look at an actual question and show you how to apply that next step.
Applying Our Method
Consider the following CR Bold-faced question:
A prominent investor who holds a large stake in the Burton Tool Company has recently claimed the company is mismanaged, citing as evidence the company’s failure to slow production in response to a recent rise in its inventory of finished products. It is doubtful whether an investor’s sniping at management can ever be anything other than counterproductive, but in this case, it is clearly not justified. It is true that an increased inventory of finished products often indicates that production is outstripping demand, but in Burton’s case, it indicates no such thing. Rather, the increase in inventory is entirely attributable to products that have been already assigned to orders received from customers.
In the argument given, the two boldfaced portions play which of the following roles?
A. The first states the position that the argument as a whole opposes; the second provides evidence to undermine the support for the position being opposed.
B. The first states the position that the argument as a whole opposes; the second is evidence that has been used to support the position being opposed.
C. The first states the position that the argument as a whole opposes; the second states the conclusion of the argument as a whole.
D. The first is evidence that has been used to support a position that the argument as a whole opposes; the second provides information to undermine the force of that evidence.
E. The first is evidence that has been used to support a position that the argument as a whole opposes; the second states the conclusion of the argument as a whole.
The second step of our method of solving Critical Reasoning Bold-faced questions is to identify the bold-faced portions as fact or non-fact.
In the above question, the first bold-faced portion, “the company is mismanaged,” is clearly an opinion, and we may term it a “non-fact.” The second bold-faced portion, “but in this case, it is clearly not justified” is also a non-fact.
It was easy to classify both the bold-faced portions of the above question as being “non-facts,” considering that the keywords, “mismanaged” and “justified” represent an opinion.
Now that we have identified both the bold-faced portions as “non-facts,” in our next step, we can take a look at the answer options.
But before we look at the answer options, we must understand a few concepts that are relevant to Critical Reasoning Bold-faced questions.
Words, such as position, conclusion, judgment, are said to denote non-facts, while words, such as evidence, finding are said to denote facts.
In answer option A, the first bold-faced portion is described as a position, while the second bold-faced portion is described as evidence. We have already decided that both bold-faced portions are non-fact. Hence, we can reject option A as a possible answer, as it denotes the second bold-faced portion as fact.
In answer option B, the first bold-faced portion is described as a position, while the second bold-faced portion is described as evidence. We can reject this answer option for the same reason that helped us to reject answer option A.
In answer option D, the first bold-faced portion is described as evidence. This is a sufficient reason to eliminate this option as a possible answer. For the same reason, we can reject answer option E.
We have eliminated four of five options. Having rejected options A, B, D, and E, we are left with option C as the answer. This whole process should have taken no more than 30 seconds. Considering that we have one minute and thirty seconds to answer each multiple-choice question in the verbal part of the GRE, we have effectively saved a minute by using our method to solve this question.
We have arrived at the answer without even having to read the whole passage. But in case you are worried about the accuracy of your answer, read the answer option C and try to understand what it says.
Option C says, “The first states the position that the argument as a whole opposes; the second states the conclusion of the argument as a whole.”
When we analyze the meaning, we realize that according to this answer option, the two bold-faced portions oppose each other. So, this is another clue we can exploit in solving bold-faced Critical Reasoning. When we read the given question, we observe that the second bold-faced says that the criticism (in the first bold-faced portion) is unjustified. Thus, the two bold-faced portions oppose each other.
Let’s consider one more question in order to apply our method of solving it:
Although the earliest surviving Greek inscriptions are written in an alphabetical date from the eighth century B.C., the fact that the text of these Greek inscriptions sometimes runs from right to left and sometimes from left to right indicates that the Greeks adopted alphabetical writing at least two centuries before the inscriptions were produced. After all, the Greeks learned alphabetical writing from the Phoenicians, and presumably, along with the alphabet, they also adopted the then-current Phoenician practice with respect to the direction of the text. And although Phoenician writing was originally inconsistent in direction, by the eighth century B.C. Phoenician was consistently written from right to left and had been for about two centuries.
In the argument given, the two boldfaced portions play which of the following roles?
A. The first and second each describe evidence that has been used to challenge the position that the argument seeks to establish.
B. The first is evidence that forms the basis for an objection to the position that the argument seeks to establish; the second is that position.
C. The first is evidence that forms the basis for an objection to the position that the argument seeks to establish; the second is a consideration introduced to counter the force of that evidence.
D. The first and the second each provide evidence in support of the position that the argument seeks to establish.
E. The first provides evidence in support of the position that the argument seeks to establish; the second is that position.
You will see that it is quite easy to establish whether the first bold-faced portion is fact or non-fact. The word, “fact” is part of the portion, and we can put it down as “fact.” We can also identify the second bold-faced portion as “fact,” as it deals with a historical truth.
Option B describes the first bold-faced portion as evidence (fact) but calls the second a position (non-fact). Option C describes the first bold-faced portion as evidence (fact) but calls the second a consideration (non-fact). Like option B, option C describes the first bold-faced portion as evidence (fact) but calls the second a position (non-fact). Now, we are down to only two options: A and D.
Both A and D describe both the bold-faced portions as evidence (fact). So, one of these must be the right answer. When we take a closer look at the options, we see that A says, “The first and second each describe evidence that has been used to challenge the position that the argument seeks to establish.” By contrast, option D says the evidence from the two bold-faced portions “support the position that the argument seeks to establish.” The phrase “the position the argument seeks to establish” simply refers to the conclusion. To solve this, let’s identify the conclusion. We observe that the conclusion is “the Greeks adopted alphabetical writing at least two centuries before the inscriptions were produced.” From the phrase “indicates that,” we know that this conclusion is derived from the first bold-faced portion. Hence, option A — which says that both the bold-faced portions challenge the argument — can be ruled out.
Look at the bold-faced portions of the given question. Identify each as fact or non-fact. Look at each answer option. Eliminate answer choices that don’t describe a factual bold-faced portion as fact or a non-factual bold-faced portion as non-fact. Once you manage to reduce the number of answer choices, you can select the right answer from the remaining by looking for ordinary logical clues — such as whether the bold-faced portions support or oppose each other — based on the descriptions in the answer choices.
These GRE Practice tips are meant to help you crack the bold-faced Critical Reasoning questions in quick time. But the best tip we can give you is to ask you to solve as many GRE practice tests as you can. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.