[Author: Abhinaya Ramanathan]
Critical Reasoning (CR) is part of the verbal section in the GMAT exam. It constitutes for 1/3rd of the verbal questions, i.e. 13 out of 41 questions are critical reasoning. In these types of questions the prompt presents some sort of argument that needs to be analyzed.
The five common CR patterns are casual pattern, planning pattern, sampling pattern, interpretation of evidence and analogy pattern.
Identifying the type of pattern the argument is based on will help uncover the assumptions and also to know the type of question to be answered.
Among the 5 patterns, the planning pattern is one of the most popular one. Many CR questions are based upon this. Let us look into it further with the help of an example.
THE CRITICAL REASONING PLANNING PATTERN
In questions that are based on the planning pattern, the argument is a problem with a solution proposed. It is assumed that the solution is foolproof and the problem would be solved if the solution is implemented.
Now to proceed with, weaken the argument by finding potential problems within the solution. The next step would be to propose solutions to the problems identified thereby making the plan foolproof.
Let’s understand this better with the help of an illustration. For assumption’s sake let’s say that a report has been filed to the manager of a security system providing company that thefts have been increasing in Adyar, Chennai. Now the problem has been delegated to the concerned authorities inside the company to be looked into. They revert back with a solution. The proposed solution is to install CCTV cameras in important junctions in the area. Thus, it provides us with the identification of the thief, as it is captured in the camera when he/she tries to run away after a robbery, which in turn helps the police capture him/her.
It is assumed that the proposed solution will be free of problems and successful after implementation.
Now to weaken the argument, potential problems has to be identifies. In this case, we can put forth that,
- There are by-lanes that are not part of the junctions that the thief could use avoiding the coverage area of the cameras and
- Cameras that are used for CCTV surveillance often produce poor quality image.
The next step is to strengthen the plan by providing solutions to the potential problems that have been identified. In our case, that would be to state,
- There are very few by-lanes in the mentioned area and
- To use better version of cameras with a wider range of scope and higher resolutions.