The Important Parts of GMAT CR Passages

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about how to identify the most important sentences in a GMAT Reading Comprehension passage. Since Critical Reasoning passages are shorter, the challenge isn't as great, but still, some sentences have more value than others.

Your first priority should be to read for the conclusion. Inference questions don't have conclusions, but the other 80 percent of CR questions do. If you're having trouble making sense of a CR passage, find the conclusion before worrying about making sense of the rest.

Next, look for relationships with the conclusion. If the passage argues that an advertising campaign has increased sales for Company X, look for information about that specific advertising campaign, or data indicating the increased sales. When looking for these related statements, keep a very narrow focus. If a sentence isn't directly connected to the conclusion, it may not be within the scope of the passage.

Thus, you can rank the importance of these sentences as follows:

  1. Conclusion
  2. Sentences directly related to the conclusion
  3. Everything else

This applies in some form to nearly every type of CR question. For instance, students often try to treat bold-face questions differently, but you shouldn't. If you identify the conclusion and how the other sentences relate to it, you have an understanding of the passage that will help you choose the correct answer.



About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.

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