Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
London Business School | Ms. Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
IU Kelley | Mr. Fortune 500
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.2
N U Singapore | Mr. Naval Officer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthtech Venture
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Columbia | Mr. Senior Research Analyst
GMAT 720, GPA 3.58
Stanford GSB | Mr. Doctor Who
GRE 322, GPA 4.0
Rice Jones | Mr. Carbon-Free Future
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
INSEAD | Mr. Data Savvy Engineer
GRE 316, GPA 2.92
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
London Business School | Mr. FANG Strategy
GMAT 740, GPA 2.9

My New Critical Reasoning Strategy

I’ve decided upon a new strategy to prepare for the critical reasoning section of the GMAT. That’s part of the 41 questions you’re asked in the verbal section of the test, and it’s meant to test your ability to review your reasoning skills in making and evaluating arguments and then coming up with a plan of action based on your assessment.

Here’s what I’m now doing:

Read the Question First – This is something I keep forgetting to do in practice because within the MGMAT course, you do the same type of problems in sets.  Therefore, I usually already know what type of question is coming.  Reading the question first can save you a ton of time, sometimes giving you the conclusion of the argument right away.

Diagram and Take Notes – I never read my notes for Critical Reasoning, but the act of paraphrasing, summarizing, and jotting something down related to the passage really helps me retain what I read.  I used to think it was a waste of time, but I’ve found that since I started diagramming, I definitely re-read the passage fewer times and my accuracy rate is much higher.  One thing I do differently than MGMAT – I only draw the top horizontal line for my CR diagram.  I don’t finish off the “T” with a vertical line because questions usually don’t have counterpoints and the additional line can screw up my notetaking.

Read Every Word in the Answer Choices – For some of the harder questions, it only takes a single word to make an answer choice correct or incorrect.  It’s a good idea to read and take into account every single word. Speeding through this process can cause you to gloss over important keywords.

Rank the Answer Choices with an “ABCDE” Grid – When you’re testing at the 700 level, it can become really difficult to toss out that many answer choices.  Sometimes, you’ll only be able to narrow it down to three.  The obvious ones that are completely out of scope or in the wrong direction should still be immediately thrown out.  However, I need to be more careful about tossing out answers that sound strange but, after logic and reasoning, fulfill the question asked.  I just need to make sure to go through the process of writing an “ABCDE” grid and picking the best answer.

Avoid Extreme Answers – Many times the answer to a Critical Reasoning question is the one that is the least extreme.  Words like “always” and “never” are much less applicable than words like “sometimes” or “possibly.”

This post is adapted from Random Wok, a blog written by Mako from Silicon Valley. You can read all of his posts at Random Wok.

Previous posts by Mako at PoetsandQuants:

Why I Want an MBA

Climbing the GMAT Mountain: 630 to 710 on a Practice Test

Do Consultants Have An Unfair Edge Over Other Applicants?

Falling Behind & Stressed Out