Critical Reasoning

GMAT® Verbal Practice Questions

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About a third of the questions that appear in the GMAT verbal section are critical reasoning questions. Typical questions that appear in critical reasoning include strengthening an argument, weakening an argument, identifying the assumption of an argument, and evaluating an argument.

If you have difficulty in solving these questions, go to the explanatory answer or the video explanations (wherever provided) to learn how to crack the question.

  1. Linda: In the 1800s, it was found that one in every six women who gave birth in hospitals died of a fever they had contracted after delivering the child and that the mortality was not as high if they gave birth at home with the help of a mid wife. It was found that the doctors had a poorer sense of hygiene and that their dirty hands and instruments were leading to pathogens entering a woman's bloodstream. Thankfully, hygienic conditions today are much better and women are safer.

    Fiona: But doctors today are so overworked that a number of doctors, while aware of the need for better hygiene, barely find the time to wash their hands. The likelihood of infections caused by doctors is probably not any better.

    Which of the following can be used by Fiona to further establish that Linda need not be correct in her reasoning?

    1. A nationwide survey found that doctors, especially experienced ones, are more prone to the belief that they could not possibly be carrying pathogens.
    2. It is reported that around 50,000 people die every year in our country from hospital acquired infections.
    3. Compulsory hand cleansing is strictly adhered to by all doctors and nurses before every major surgical procedure.
    4. During a study, doctors handling newborn babies self reported a hand cleansing rate of 90℅.
    5. Nurses are not any better than doctors in adhering to strict cleansing schedules, especially when busy.
  2. The Americans with disabilities act (ADA) was designed to ensure that there is no discrimination against and unfair termination of differently-abled workers in the workplace. However, after the act was introduced, there has been a marked increase in unemployment among the differently-abled.

    Which of the following best explains this seeming discrepancy?

    1. A number of differently-abled people chose not to work
    2. Not willing to deal with the issues of workplace discrimination of the differently-abled, several companies recruited fewer of them in the first place
    3. Knowing that the act was about to be enforced, companies terminated some of the differently-abled while they had a chance
    4. There was no act introduced that would guarantee a job for the differently-abled
    5. The unemployment among the able-bodied has remained consistently hig
  3. In an effort to curb drug abuse, the government has imposed strict laws to prosecute the dealers. However, such an initiative is unlikely to be effective. Prosecuting dealers will lead to a shortage of drugs. At the same time, because no efforts are being taken to curb demand, drugs will be sold at a premium, attracting more people to the very remunerative job of drug dealing. Therefore, to effectively reduce drug abuse, the government will have to prosecute the drug users and not dealers.

    Which of the following is the most relevant information in evaluating the credibility of the argument?

    1. Whether efforts have been successfully taken in any other country to regulate drug users.
    2. Whether the payoff from selling drugs outweighs the severity of the punishment
    3. Whether drugs will continue to be sold at a premium when there are dealers in the market again
    4. Whether the majority of the users will be willing to pay a premium to continue to use the drugs
    5. Whether the government will be able to keep track of new dealers as and when they enter the market
  4. Alan: In the last 15 years, most of the criminals who were convicted of theft or murder were from the lower income classes and had not completed high school. Therefore, the government has to spend more money on reducing poverty and increase funding to education. Because terrorism is the most severe of all crimes, such measures would bring down overall crime rate and reduce threat from terrorism.

    Dylan: A study that was conducted in a country known to produce a number of terrorists showed that on average the terrorists were better educated than the overall population and that they did not necessarily come from lower income classes. This is probably because crimes such as theft are committed for personal gain while terrorism is for political or religious gain.

    Which of the following best describes Dylan's response to Alan?

    1. Dylan changes the direction of the argument entirely by discussing the scenario in a different country
    2. Dylan partially agrees with Alan's reasoning but refutes his recommendation to the government
    3. Dylan converts a causal argument made by Alan into a generalization applicable universally
    4. Dylan challenges Alan's reasoning by explaining why two situations that Alan perceives as similar are not
    5. While Alan arrives at a conclusion by drawing an analogy, Dylan arrives at the same conclusion by refuting the analogy
  5. During the last 50 years in England, the national football team has had at least 60℅ of its players born during the months January to March. Similarly, in Germany, at least 50℅ of the team has been born during the first three months of the year. In fact, this statistic holds true for most European countries. This shows that in most European countries, parents with kids born early in the year are more likely to encourage a football career.

    Which of the following best explains why the conclusion need not be the best explanation for the statistic?

    1. Of the remaining members, 60℅ or more tend to be born between the months of April and June.
    2. Parents of kids born in the second half of the year have displayed a measurable intent to promote scholarly careers
    3. The age cut-off for kids to try out for a team in most European countries is calculated as on December 31 of any year and older the kid during trials, greater the chances of getting the right opportunities.
    4. The school year usually begins in April in most European countries and many parents are known to encourage students to work on their academics and not sports during the school year.
    5. During the last 50 years, on average 30℅ of the kids have been born during the first three months of the year.
  6. Studies have established that children who watched 2 more hours of TV on an average daily basis during the first 15 years of their life were 50℅ more likely to be arrested for property crimes in the country. Researchers believe that these studies clearly establish that violence in movies and TV contribute to aggressive behavior in real life. On the other hand, there is no clear evidence that the programs that the kids watched on TV were violent in the first place. Even if we were to accept that TV watching contributed to the increased crime rate, it need not have been because of the nature of the programs. Perhaps, children who watched programs such as Adams and Samson, a funny sit-com about two blundering cops began perceiving all cops as incompetent.

    What is the role of the sentences in boldface?

    1. The first establishes a theory that the author later clearly refutes while the second presents the author's conclusion
    2. The first is an interpretation made by researchers that the author contends against and the second provides an alternative explanation for statistical data
    3. The first is an opinion expressed by someone other than the author and which the author is completely in disagreement with while the second provides the reason for the author's doubt
    4. The first is a fact supporting the researcher's conclusion while the second is the author's conclusion.
    5. The first is a clearly proven opinion even if the author disagrees with it while the second is an ambiguous opinion that has no supporting data
  7. During mediaeval times, the administrative system was organized such that jobs were traditionally held within the same family. The eldest son of the village's blacksmith will take up his father’s business and become the next blacksmith. The other sons would join the army or serve the king in some fashion while the daughters did what their mother did. Although the world has undergone innumerable changes, the dynastic system has not undergone any change whatsoever. Children who have fathers who played major league baseball are 800 times more likely than other kids to become major league players themselves.

    Which of the following best refutes the author's reasoning?

    1. In countries with a royal family, the eldest son of the king is destined to be the next king.
    2. The blacksmith's eldest son in a mediaeval village could not choose any other profession even if he wanted to.
    3. A major baseball player will have better knowledge and skills and will be able to guide his son better.
    4. 60℅ of the country's doctors have at least one parent who is a doctor.
    5. It is a proven fact that success in any career is determined more by skill and practice rather than by genetic makeup.
  8. A survey conducted recently in the city indicated that most college welfare-aid applicants understate the number of luxury items - such as cars and TVs – that their family owned, in an effort to maximize the amount of aid they can claim from the city. Paradoxically, the same study also found that many applicants claimed that they had running water and a gas connection even when they did not.

    Which of the following best explains the apparent paradox?

    1. The city does not pay welfare unless the applicants have at least some things working for them
    2. Claiming that they do not have a car or a TV ensures that the city looks at the applicant more favorably
    3. While the applicants may be willing to accept that they don't have certain things, they felt embarrassed having to accept that they don't have most things.
    4. Historically, at least 30℅ of the claims have had people understating what they have while only 22℅ overstated what they had.
    5. The people who understated what they had were not the same people who overstated what they had
  9. Terrorist attacks invariably lead to tremendous losses in life, property, and morale of a country. The effects of a terrorist attack are not just immediate and can have long-lasting, trickle-down effects as well. The fear, for example, takes a long time to die down. However, some of these repercussions can be beneficial to the country. Take for instance, the recent terrorist attack on our capital city. In the weeks following the attack, the crime rate in the city came down significantly from what it was just before the attack. This must primarily be due to the increased presence of police resources that were moved to the area and is thus an indirect effect of the attack.

    Which of the following options gives one more option as to why the crime rate decreased because of the terrorist attacks?

    1. The capital city is under increased monitoring leading to quick detection of crimes - many times while the crime is still underway.
    2. A number of people are frightened because of the terrorist attacks and have fled the capital city.
    3. There was a recorded decrease in crime rate right after the terrorist attack in almost all cities of the country.
    4. Intel reports show that the terrorists who pulled off the attack had been committing various other smaller crimes regularly to distract law enforcement from their true purposes.
    5. The government had initiated schemes to decrease poverty and provide better livelihood for the people just before the terrorist attack.
  10. In 2009, there was a sharp increase in the number of people who were reported to have died in the country during the first week of the year, compared with the first week of the previous ten years. There seems to be no reason to explain this disproportionately high number of deaths especially because the reports were widespread in the country and there was no epidemic spreading through the country at that point in time. Moreover, most of the deaths were not among the young and could not even be attributed to binge drinking in celebration of the new year.

    Which of the following can then explain the discrepancy?

    1. The government announced in 2008 that estate taxes, payable by the heirs on someone's death, would be abolished effective from the new year.
    2. Astrologists predicted that 2009 was a good year to die in, for salvation of the soul.
    3. The statistic is an anomaly that has no logical explanation.
    4. The price of some cancer drugs and chemotherapy increased by 10% in January 2009, making treatment more expensive than before.
    5. An earthquake in one of the cities during December 2008 made hospital care availability more difficult for regular illnesses.

Video Explanation

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