One of the things I love about being a Kaplan GMAT teacher is that my students learn a method for answering every question they will face on Test Day. Having a consistent approach makes answering a high-difficulty GMAT question as simple as answering its lower-difficulty cousin. Each step is the same, the steps are performed in the same order, and with practice the Kaplan Methods become my students’ methods.
Answer prediction for Critical Reasoning
Learning to use the Kaplan Methods, like learning to use any tools, requires practice. For example, the Kaplan Method for Critical Reasoning is a logical series of steps aimed at saving time through prediction:
- Identify the question type.
- Untangle the stimulus.
- Predict the answer.
- Evaluate the choices.
Although the steps are logical, their order may seem a bit counterintuitive. Before discussing the Kaplan Method for Critical Reasoning, most of my students would perform only three of these steps, and they would follow this order: Step 2 (read it), Step 1 (ID the question), then Step 4 (read the choices).
The first thing you see on a Critical Reasoning question isn’t the question; it’s the stimulus. So reading the question first is easy to forget! To apply the prediction method to its greatest advantage, you have to practice looking at the question before you untangle the stimulus. Without knowing what you are looking for (by identifying the question type), you may need to reread the stimulus, which will waste precious Test Day time.
Using your time more efficiently on the GMAT
Steps 2 and 4, deciphering the stimulus and reading the answer choices, are logical and don’t require much discussion in my classroom. However, I find that Step 3 bears frequent repeating. I usually write it in all caps: PREDICT THE ANSWER. It flows from the previous steps; once you’ve read the question, you know, for example, whether you need to identify an assumption or weaken the argument. Then, once you take apart the stimulus, you know what that assumption or weakener should be. Voila! All that remains is finding the match.
Prediction takes just a few seconds of critical thinking. Novice GMAT-takers will read the stimulus and then the question, then assess each answer choice; by applying the Kaplan Method and predicting what you are looking for before you read the answer choices, you will save time and increase your accuracy. And that will certainly go a long way toward helping you land your best score.
Want to practice your Critical Reasoning answer prediction? Take our free GMAT pop quiz to check your Test Day readiness.
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