Critical Reasoning Question Types

The GMAT critical reasoning section features a handful of common question types. The list below contains these question types along with common keywords that are often included in the question stem. For each question type, there are one or two characteristics that frequently define the correct answer.

Strengthen

Common Keywords

  • Strengthen
  • Support

Common Question Stems

  • Which of the following, if true, would most strengthen...
  • Which of the following, if true, provides the most support for the argument above?

Common Correct Answer

The correct answer almost always provides a premise that the argument is missing. By adding a missing premise, the argument's conclusion is strengthened. It is important to point out that the correct answer need only strengthen the argument's conclusion--it does not need to prove it.

Weaken

Common Keywords

  • Weaken
  • Cast doubt
  • Undermine

Common Question Stems

  • Which of the following, if true, most undermines...
  • Which of the following most seriously weakens...
  • Which of the following, if true, would most weaken the claim that...

Common Correct Answer

The correct answer almost always either undermines one of the premises or shows that the argument's conclusion does not logically follow from its premises (i.e., there is an assumption in the argument).

Inference

Common Keywords

  • Implied
  • Infer

Common Question Stems

  • Which of the following inferences is best supported by the statement made above?
  • Which of the following can properly be inferred from the statement above?
  • Which of the following can be most properly inferred from...

Common Correct Answer

The correct answer is almost always based upon the information in the stimulus. A common trap is to include answers that are true yet are not based upon the stimulus. The correct answer usually relates directly to the central point of the stimulus and requires a minimal jump from the premises and conclusion of the argument.

Find the Assumption

Common Keywords

  • Rely
  • Assumption
  • Based

Common Question Stems

  • The above argument relies on which of the following assumptions?
  • The argument above is based on which of the following assumptions?
  • Which of the following is an assumption that supports drawing the conclusion above...

Common Correct Answer

Similar to the common correct answer choice for weaken questions, the correct answer choice for find the assumption questions often highlights the fact that the argument rests on unwarranted assumptions.

Explain the Discrepancy

Common Keywords

  • Explain
  • Paradox
  • Harmonize
  • Discrepancy
  • Resolve
  • Reconcile

Common Question Stems

  • Which of the following, if true, would most contribute to an explanation of the facts above?
  • Which of the following, if true, best explains the reason for the apparent discrepancy described above?

Copy the Logic

Common Keywords

  • Similar
  • Parallel

Common Question Stems

  • The above argument is most parallel in its structure to which of the following?

Common Correct Answer

These questions require you to understand the logical structure of the argument. The correct answer choice follows the same logical structure, even if the original argument contained a logical flaw.