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Climbing Through the Difficulty Ranks in Critical Reasoning

This topic has 4 expert replies and 6 member replies
dayoajayi Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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25 Feb 2015
Posted:
7 messages

Climbing Through the Difficulty Ranks in Critical Reasoning

Post Fri Nov 11, 2016 5:35 pm
I've been studying for the GMAT for a while, and the Critical Reasoning section has proven to be a hard nut to crack. Lately I've gone all the way back to the basics, to measure my understanding of CR fundamentals. I found that I usually do well (90+% accuracy) in the easy difficulty questions, but I as move up in difficulty, I get SMOKED by the Medium/Hard questions, hitting only about 40-50% accuracy.

How does one master Critical Reasoning questions as they get more difficult? What are the subtleties that differentiate Easy/Medium/Hard CR questions? I realize that this is probably a question I need to answer for myself, but I figured I would ask it in the forum, for those who have walked this path before.

I appreciate your insights.

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Post Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:54 pm
Hi dayoajayi,

The Verbal section of the GMAT is just as predictable as the Quant section is - and as questions get 'tougher', they often involve more layered concepts or wrong answer types that are more subtle or rarer in design. The basic 'logic' behind how the CR prompts are written doesn't change though. Before I can offer you the specific advice that you’re looking for, it would help if you could provide a bit more information on how you've been studying and your goals:

Studies:
1) How long have you studied?
2) What materials have you used?
3) How have you scored on each of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores)?

Goals:
4) What is your goal score?
5) When are you planning to take the GMAT?
6) When are you planning to apply to Business School?
7) What Schools are you planning to apply to?

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich

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dayoajayi Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
25 Feb 2015
Posted:
7 messages
Post Sat Nov 12, 2016 7:24 am
Studies:
1) How long have you studied? A little over a year
2) What materials have you used? I started with MGMAT resources, the Official Guide, then Magoosh, then more practice with the Question Pack from GMAC.
3) How have you scored on each of your CATs (including the Quant and Verbal Scaled Scores)? My recent CAT scores are:
Veritas:
6/19: 630 (Q45 / V32)
6/26: 610 (Q44 / V30)
7/27: 610 (Q41 / V33)

Exam Pack 1:
9/25: 600 (Q44 / V28)
9/28: 610 (Q38 / V35)

Yet, I scored a surprising 550 (Q36 / V31) on the official Test in October. I suppose I poured a lot of effort into trying to increase the Verbal score, at the cost of my Quant performance. I also have a 580 (Q42 / V28) official score from April.

Goals:
4) What is your goal score? 700+ (Q47+, and V38+)
5) When are you planning to take the GMAT? December 10
6) When are you planning to apply to Business School? Round 2 (January - I thought I'd have obtaibed my goal GMAT score by now)
7) What Schools are you planning to apply to? Haas, Anderson, Kenan-Flagler, McCombs, Giozueta

Post Sat Nov 12, 2016 10:17 am
Hi dayoajayi,

GMAC has publicly stated that the Official Score that you earn on Test Day is within +/- 30 points of actual ability. Assuming a similar 'swing' in how your CATs function, your various score results (from the Official GMAT and your CATs) show that you essentially performed the same each time (+/- a few points). Based on this data, your general ability level is likely in the high-500s. Since you've been studying for a year, you've likely developed some 'bad habits' that will take time to fix (and replace with new 'good habits').

A December 10th Test Date gives you about 4 weeks of study time remaining. With a score goal of 700+, you will need to make some significant improvements to how you handle BOTH the Quant and Verbal sections. Unfortunately, 4 weeks is likely not going to be enough time to raise a 550 to a 700+. That type of improvement will likely take at least another 2-3 months of consistent, guided study with an emphasis on learning and practicing the proper Tactics.

Have you purchased the ESR for this recent attempt at the GMAT? While the ESR doesn't provide much information, it would likely give provide some clues as to what you should be focused on. For example, a Q36 means that you made lots of little mistakes throughout the Quant section and you missed out on lots of 'strategy-based' points. The V31 means that you likely lost significant points on at least 2 of the 3 major Verbal categories (SC, RC and CR). The fact that you've self-identified CR as an area that you need to work on is good; however, there are likely a number of other areas that you also need to work on.

GMAT assassins aren't born, they're made,
Rich

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dayoajayi Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
25 Feb 2015
Posted:
7 messages
Post Sat Nov 12, 2016 10:45 am
Hi Rich,

Thank you for your thorough analysis of my recent results. I agree that my ability has been around the high 500s, and I've been working fervently to improve it since my last official attempt. I did get the ESR from the exams, and have sent them to you in a private message.

Post Sat Nov 12, 2016 11:11 am
dayoajayi wrote:
I've been studying for the GMAT for a while, and the Critical Reasoning section has proven to be a hard nut to crack. Lately I've gone all the way back to the basics, to measure my understanding of CR fundamentals. I found that I usually do well (90+% accuracy) in the easy difficulty questions, but I as move up in difficulty, I get SMOKED by the Medium/Hard questions, hitting only about 40-50% accuracy.

How does one master Critical Reasoning questions as they get more difficult? What are the subtleties that differentiate Easy/Medium/Hard CR questions? I realize that this is probably a question I need to answer for myself, but I figured I would ask it in the forum, for those who have walked this path before.

I appreciate your insights.
A suggestion: go back through those medium/hard questions slowly and dissect them. Do you see why the correct answer is correct? Do you see what it was about what you selected that made it incorrect but still tempting? If you do, make some notes to yourself and look for these same patterns in future questions. If you don't, post the question here and walk through your thought process. Wash/rinse/repeat until the tendencies of the question-writers begin to become glaringly evident.

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dayoajayi Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
25 Feb 2015
Posted:
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Post Sat Nov 12, 2016 11:20 am
Thank you very much, David. Agreed - I've been doing a lot of introspection, especially about CR, and have come to the realization that CR (if not the entire exam) tests levels of understanding. A shallow/surface-level understanding would probably suffice in answering the easy questions, whereas a deeper level of understanding is *required* for the medium/hard questions. I've been a quiet member of the community, but will act on your suggestion and start posting questions on here for deeper analysis and discussion.

Post Sun Nov 13, 2016 6:36 am
Quote:
A shallow/surface-level understanding would probably suffice in answering the easy questions, whereas a deeper level of understanding is *required* for the medium/hard questions.
Wise words Smile

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Top Member

Post Mon Nov 14, 2016 6:15 am
I think that by figuring out all the things that you missed and why you missed them in choosing a clearly wrong answer to this question, http://www.beatthegmat.com/cr-a-recent-study-shows-that-the-overall-sales-of-print-t293374.html, you will make some good progress.

For instance, rather than seeing that the Internet Geek was saying that people are doing their reading online, you based your choice on the incorrect idea that reading print materials IS READING, and if one is using online resources one IS NOT READING.

You took an illogical,, probably impulsive, step. Each step you make matters. So to get harder CR questions right, you have to figure out how to make your steps more logical rather than just leap to conclusions that don't really make sense.

That is just one of the mis moves you made.

So in addition to learning more about some of the patterns that typically show up in the questions, you have to become more aware of and change your own patterns.

In other words, you have to tighten up your thinking big time. Doing that might be painful. It might take literally an hour per question to get things all straight at first. You have to and will learn to do it though.

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dayoajayi Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
25 Feb 2015
Posted:
7 messages
Post Tue Nov 15, 2016 3:20 pm
Thanks Marty,

I went back to dissect the argument and reattempt the question. A common theme with me and CR problems is that I usually have two answers choices that are the real contenders, and more often than I'd like to admit, I choose the wrong of the two. Option B was my initial answer, but I reasoned my way out of it as I read other answer choices. This boils down to the fact that I am yet to develop a tight, bullet-proof process for handling each type of CR question.

Top Member

Post Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:20 pm
dayoajayi wrote:
This boils down to the fact that I am yet to develop a tight, bullet-proof process for handling each type of CR question.
Yes, and it's not just one process per type that you need. It has to be the case that whatever you do, your thought processes make sense.

Y'know this is related to algebraic translation, which we discussed a while ago. Effective algebraic translation also takes clear, logical thinking that takes you in the right direction rather than generating unwarranted outputs.

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GMAT Coach
m.w.murray@hotmail.com
http://infinitemindprep.com/
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