Critical Reasoning in GMAT and how to crack it!

Critical Reasoning (CR) questions are part of the GMAT’s verbal section. In a previous post, we told you all about the GMAT verbal section, its timing, and what all it asks of the test taker.

Critical Reasoning questions can often be the the most challenging part of the verbal section. Lets first give you an overview of a few critical reasoning question types! critical reasoning skills

Types of critical reasoning questions:

The first type of critical reasoning questions of the GMAT verbal section have an argument-statement based structure. You will have one argument given, and you have to analyze the argument. The answer will require making a choice of one among five. The question types can involve choosing that statement which most weakens the argument or most strengthens it.

Other type of critical reasoning questions also center around an argument. But here you will find two highlighted sentences (in the argument) and based on the context of the argument, you will have to decide about the relation between the two highlighted sentences. The questions could center around statement conclusion, or theory and an example of the theory, or statement and example that negates/undermines the statement.

Examples of GMAT Critical Reasoning questions

Type 1 question example:
Political Commentator: During the previous presidential administration, members of congress approved large tax cuts and yet the economy today stands in shambles. During the current economic crisis, those who espouse large tax cuts as an economic stimulus should consider the failure of tax cuts during the past eight years to prevent the current economic recession as conclusive evidence that tax cuts will not help the country escape from its current economic troubles.
Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument above?

The correct answer is A.

Explanation:  The political commentator’s argument is: “tax cuts will not help the country escape from its current economic troubles.” The commentator’s evidence for this is the failure of the past administration’s tax cuts to prevent the economic recession. Now answer A is the only one that identifies that the argument illogically compares apples and oranges (i.e., it compares entirely different types of tax cuts). It is not reasonable to assume that capital gains tax cuts for the ultra-rich will have the same effect as cuts on salary taxes. None of the other answers match the logical proceedings of the argument. Therefore, the answer is A.

Type 2 Question example: Joanne the researcher: All other things being equal, the intensity of heat increases as the distance from the heat source decreases. Knowing this, most people conclude that the Earth’s seasons are caused by the Earth’s changing distance from the sun. In other words, winter occurs when the Earth is far from the sun, and summer occurs when the earth is close to the sun. However, we know that as North America experiences summer, South America experiences winter, even though the difference in the continents’ distance to the sun is negligible. Therefore, the earth’s changing distance from the sun does not cause the seasons. In the argument, the two portions in boldface play which of the following roles?

A) The first describes a belief to which the scientist subscribes; the second is evidence in support of this belief.
 B) The first describes a common belief that the scientist later deems to be ill conceived; the second is evidence against this belief.
 C) The first is a statement presented in support of the scientist’s final conclusion; the second is the scientist’s conclusion.
 D) The first describes a commonly held belief that is contrary to the scientist’s final conclusion; the second is evidence in support of this belief.
 E) The first describes a common belief that follows logically from the statement before it; the second is factual information that the scientist deems to be irrelevant to her argument.

The correct answer is B.

The researcher shows here a common belief that the Earth’s seasons are caused by its distance from the sun.  Then she presents an example to show that this does not hold true. So here, the first bold sentence highlights the belief held by the people, while the second highlights the example contradicting the belief. With this analysis in mind for critical reasoning, the answer turns out to be B.

These aforementioned questions are the two most common types of questions for the critical reasoning section of the GMAT.

critical reasoning pyramid

Analysis of Critical Reasoning questions on the GMAT

The GMAT’s critical reasoning questions are meant to test your analytical ability of situations, arguments, etc. Out of the 41 questions on the verbal section, roughly 14-20 will be critical reasoning questions. When you start taking the mock tests for your preparation, you will realize that there are few 300-500 level CR questions. The critical reasoning questions generally begin at the 600-level. So if the first question on your mock is a critical reasoning-based question, then your questions would have begun from the 600-level. You need to be careful in answering these questions, primarily because of the computer adaptive nature of the test.

The GMAT verbal section can be aced once you master critical reasoning questions. Some more critical reasoning tips can be found here. The best way to get conversant with critical reasoning questions is by taking a mock test first and then analyzing where you stand.

As I always say, gain a clear understanding of the type of questions asked, and then head for the practice tests to do well! All the best!

Sentence correction in GMAT Verbal- tricks to ace the SC questions!

Are you worried about the GMAT verbal section because grammar is not your strong suit? Does the thought of 75 minutes of grueling grammar scare you? Well, you will be surprised to know that the sentence correction questions can be the easiest part of GMAT Verbal Reasoning! What does mastering the sentence correction part of verbal reasoning entail? Read below for tips on acing the sentence correction section!

Analysis of GMAT Sentence Correction

The sentence correction part, as you are well aware of, aims to test your knowledge of English grammar.  To note, the GMAT tests you on American English, so those of you who have studied the British language need to be a little careful on the exam.  For example, the Americans spell “flavour” with only an “o”, i.e. “flavor”.  Similarly the word “colour”, which they spell as “color”.  So you need to make sure you are conversant with American spellings.  But these will not make a very big difference when it comes to sentence correction.  The SC checks your grammar, and not particularly your spelling, although new spellings in the questions might trip you!

As with other chapters on the exam, sentence correction questions’ difficulty can vary from 200-level to 700-level.  A 600+ level question in sentence correction typically requires changing the whole sentence. The whole sentence would be underlined for you to make the necessary corrections.

A Sentence Correction question has 5 options from which the correct answer is to be chosen.  The first option, is a reproduction of the question itself! If you feel the given sentence has nothing wrong with it, choose the first option.

sentence correction types

Types of sentence correction questions.

As mentioned earlier, questions of all score levels are present in the sentence correction section.  You may get only 2 to 3 words underlined to be corrected, or say a part separated by punctuation, and only the underlined part (and not the entire sentence) is to be corrected.

For example, “although the dog tried his best to catch up with the train; he could not do it.”  Here you can see that only a portion of the sentence is underlined, so only that needs to be corrected.  Now you can keep the first part fixed in your mind, and try to make the entire sentence grammatically correct by changing the underlined portion.  You can see here that the the change will come from the punctuation.  The correct answer would be “train, yet he could not do it.”

Another example of a tougher question would be “TA Edison was awarded the noble prize as he was the man who invented the light bulb and his works as a scientist make him what he was.

Now this is a tougher question, and requires the complete sentence to be corrected.  You can see that the tenses are not right, and there are too many conjunctions in the sentence used at the wrong places.  The correct answer would be “TA Edison was awarded the nobel prize for inventing the light bulb (or, as he was the man who invented the light bulb); his works made him what he was.”

Another trick to crack GMAT Sentence Correction

To make the right choice, read the entire sentence first at a quick go without paying attention to the underlined part.  Try to figure out what it is that strikes you as being grammatically incorrect.  Once you’ve figured out the correction areas, go back to the sentence and read it again, this time looking at the underlined portion.

Now catch the wrong part, be it punctuation or conjunction or tenses, and check the choices given.  Select the one that you feel is correct.

sentence correction tricks

Remember that roughly 10 to 14 questions in the GMAT Verbal section will be for sentence correction.  The other questions are distributed over the critical reasoning and the reading comprehension sections.


Like our tips? You can try out full-fledged exercises on GMAT sentence correction on our website or on our mobile apps on Android Play Store and iOS App Store! We have over 500 pages of Study Material for all sections of the GMAT (including Sentence Correction), multiple full-length Adaptive mock tests, and practice questions for all chapter specific areas. You can try us out for FREE, with our 7-day trial!

Follow out Blog for more tips, tricks, and updates on the GMAT, MBA, and Business Schools.

Signup to our blog and study with confidence and persistence.  Remember, there are no short cuts to success! 🙂

GMAT App on iPhone and iPad launched for GMAT Prep on the go!

Studycopter today announced the launch of its much-awaited GMAT App on iPhones for GMAT Prep on the go.

App on Apple iPhones

The Studycopter GMAT App works seamlessly with the Studycopter website and the Studycopter Android app over the cloud and is a smarter way for students to get their best possible score in the GMAT exam.

Adi Jain, Studycopter’s CEO says, “Today marks a very important step in our journey to embower students to get their best possible score on the GMAT exam. With the iOS-based GMAT App, students can study whenever they want, wherever they want and make use of free time that they normally wouldn’t use to study.”

The Studycopter iOS GMAT App is the first app to be launched globally that uses an adaptive learning system on a mobile device and lets you practice questions, review study material, take notes, and bookmark your favorite topics on all your Apple iOS devices. The best part is that your progress-scores, notes, bookmarks etc.-always stay synced across any number of Apple or Android devices that you may own. So you could start your prep on your laptop at the breakfast table-continue studying on your phone on ride to work-and analyze your performance during lunch break (or a boring meeting!) at your office tablet

The iPhone app is available for free for all existing Studycopter subscribers with their GMAT prep courses. For new users, the app (and the website) are free to use and try for 7 days!

The Apple iOS app contains the familiar adaptive learning engine that is favorite of Studycopter’s Android app and website-users. Its powerful recommendation engine continually analyzes user performance and provides feedback to users to turbocharge their GMAT prep.

The GMAT app contains over 40 practice exercises, 1500+ questions, and hundreds of pages of Study Material.

You can download the GMAT app from Apple iOS App Store. If you have comments to share, please email us at or call us at +1.347.994.0099.

GMAT Tutor-Studycopter for GMAT questions, concepts, doubts, queries

My GMAT Tutor

Stuck on a question? Puzzled by a tricky concept? Wish there was someone to help clear your GMAT doubts on the fly? Worry not. Now get 24×7 Expert Help from your own GMAT Tutor.

Studycopter on Android Mobile Phones-GMAT Tutor

Works on both Android phones and Apple iPhones

Studycopter on Android Phones-My Tutor Feature-GMAT Tutor

Getting ready for the test was never this easy.


Has algebra or coordinate geometry been troubling you since high-school? Feel shy to ask a friend for help? Now you don’t have to worry about your peers judging you while asking a question.

We are pleased to announce the launch of Studycopter’s My Tutor, the most innovative way to ask questions, clear doubts, and send questions to your very own, 24×7 GMAT Tutor.

My Tutor on the Studycopter website-GMAT Tutor

Asking questions and clearing doubts was never this easy

The Virtual GMAT Tutor is free for all Studycopter users.  It is very simple to use and once you post a query, our experts get back to you within 1 business day.  Moreover, if you have any follow-up questions to our response, our experts will answer them in no time as well.

Studycopter's My-Tutor-GMAT Tutor

You can ask unlimited Follow up questions to your query

Adi Jain, Studycopter’s CEO says, “Today marks yet another step in our journey to embower students to get their best possible score on the GMAT exam.  We are here to answer all your questions, howsoever trivial they may seem.”

All Studycopter customers get credits to post 10 questions to our Tutors. Have more doubts and need more credits? Worry not. For a nominal charge, you can purchase credits to ask more questions.

My Tutor works on your Studycopter Mobile App on Android and iOS devices and on the Studycopter website!

Have questions? Write to us and we’d be happy to help.

GMAT or GRE- which Test for admissions to MS, MBA or PhD courses

A dilemma which many students may face is to ascertain the trade-off between the GRE or GMAT exams to gain admissions to top colleges and universities worldwide.GMAT vs. GRE image

Often you will find students contemplating over whether to take the GRE or GMAT when they want to apply to universities abroad. Oh, and you may be among them 😉 So what is the ideal choice between the two, and how do you make it?

Lets present here a much debated discussion of the GRE vs GMAT exams:

Who should take the exam: GMAT vs. GRE?

Well, the common advice is that those who are more centered towards MBA programs should go for the traditional GMAT as B-schools tend to value the GMAT more than the GRE, though they never state that explicitly. Though now a growing number of B-schools tend to be moving towards the trend of accepting GRE scores, yet the GMAT still holds its value in essence!

On the other hand, GRE is advisable to those who are applying to both MBA and graduate school programs; the GRE is an easier test, both in structure and content.

GMAT vs. GRE format

What are the advantages of taking the GMAT or GRE?

GMAT should ideally be the first choice of those who are serious about getting an MBA; it gives the B-school you apply to an indication of how serious you are for your MBA! GRE, like I said above, is more suited for the students who want to keep options open and are applying to both MBA and grad. school programs.

Who should take the GMAT vs. GRE?

Those who are serious about getting into a B-school should aim for the GMAT; the GRE is for the more laid back student applying to both B-schools and grad. schools.

GRE might also work better for students from a non-quant background (more on this below)

Also, if your target school explicitly favors one exam over the other or does not recognize a particular exam, the choice for you becomes pretty clear.

The best way to determine whether the GMAT or GRE is better suited to your abilities is to get your feet wet with a practice test for each exam. Getting into a top business school is competitive and you don’t want to take an actual GRE or GMAT sight unseen. NOTE: Studycopter offers FREE full-length tests for the GMAT and our GRE course would be available very soon!


Your GMAT scores can also be of great help in landing a great job after your graduate level course. Experts opine that generally, investment bankers and recruiters will look at your GMAT scores; they don’t tend to take GRE scores seriously, for the simple reason that the GRE is at an easier level than the GMAT. A GMAT student is likely to spend way longer preparing than a GRE student. GMAT prep requires hundreds of hours devoted to preparing, specially the quant section, unless you are from a math background. GMAT, they say, serves as the “gold standard”.

GRE, on the other hand, is the easier test to give; it also it has an easier grading curve. While getting into the best percentile of the GMAT (say, the 99th percentile) may be close to impossible, getting the max. scores on the GRE is not a difficult nut to crack.

Tough nut to crack!

In the GRE, the grammar section is the tough nut to crack, what with the GRE’s ~4000 words’ vocab that is to be learnt religiously. Two writing sections also mean that there is great emphasis on writing.

In the GMAT, the verbal section can be challenging for the mathematically inclined. On the other hand, the quant section can be a drawback for students with a non-math background as many test-takers with a background in mathematics may be able to get a near perfect score in this section and thus use this strength to get an overall higher score!

Fact is, GMAT favours the determined student.

GRE or GMAT: Cost

You may also want to contemplate the two in terms of cost effectiveness. While the GMAT costs $250, the GRE costs only $150; both are valid for a term of 5 years.

ETS offers a comparison tool that allows you to compare your GRE score with what you might get on the GMAT exam. The tool is available here

The differences will lie in your choice. In summary, those who have outstanding quant skills should go for the GMAT; those with outstanding verbal skills should go for the GRE.

According to your own preference, you may pick on which side of the debate you may wish to favour! Ultimately, your stand of the GMAT vs. GRE debate will be shaped by your own preference of MBA programs or the graduate school programs.

Make a well-informed decision so you may not have to look back and regret!

Happy studying 😉

Interested in the GMAT?

  • The Integrated Reasoning (IR) Section is the newest section on the GMAT. Did you know that we have a free IR guide for you here (this is in addition to the FREE IR study material and practice tests that Studycopter offers)

GMAT preparation – avoiding the common prep mistakes !

When beginning the GMAT preparation, we usually start with a lot of hustle bustle, and the prep is also carried on by most test takers with a lot of enthusiasm. However, what we usually tend to overlook is the area of common mistakes while preparing for the GMAT!

Lets get to the common mistakes of GMAT preparation, and how to avoid them!

GMAT preparation tips

1. Don’t try and study or solve every problem under the sky! True, there is ample study material available for you to be able to solve hundreds of questions, but the trick lies in mastering those few problems which you actually devote time to studying. Pick up a few problems you feel are difficult for your standard, and study them in detail. Variety is important to know the kind of problems that are tested, but do not be flooded with them. Spend apt time studying those few problems, trying to figure out alternative approaches of solving them and more efficient techniques for the same questions.

2. Space your GMAT preparation over a comfortable span of time, say 3 to 4 months. Usually, the kind of semester mode study we do, getting used to cramming whole subjects in 2 to 3 nights is the need of the hour and is sometimes also able to get us through exams; but in GMAT prep this does not work!
Studying 2 to 3 hours a day for 3 to 4 months is worth much more than 10 hours in 2 weeks. For an effective schedule, try mixing up your study hours with different sections of the GMAT, say 1 hour of verbal with 1 hour of quant. Again, I’ll lay stress on the trick of spending more time reviewing the solved problems than solving more and more of them. Remember, longer work sessions lead to diminishing returns 😉

You may also want to have a look at our tips to a killer GMAT score! They may help you to plan a good GMAT preparation!

3. Do not be misguided into taking too many mock tests. It is a wrong notion that taking practice tests makes you more well-equipped for the exam, than studying the actual material. Practice tests help you build stamina, and make you more set to the time constraints, but they cannot be a replacement for the actual study material.
Use practice tests that give you diagnostic information. We at Studycopter lay special emphasis on providing you step by step diagnostics of your performance.

GMAT preparation - do not take too many mock tests!

4. Do not forget about your timing. Most students will focus on getting the problems right, and not getting them right in the right time! A personal advice is to use a wrist watch with an alarm, doing every question timed by the pattern of GMAT. A friend of mine adopted the same trick, and scored a 96 on 100 in his accounts exam! 😉

5. Pay attention to your weaker sections and do not drool over the sections you’re acing. Its good to ace the section you feel confident about, but you must get going on the sections you are not so confident about. If you are weak in one section and weak in another, then the GMAT’s adaptive nature will put a ceiling on your strengths because of your weaknesses.
For example, if you are data sufficient but weak at solving logical reasoning, the IR section will not show you a 700-level data sufficiency question with a 500-level logical reasoning score. Keep that in mind for your GMAT preparation.

While practicing, do not get clouded by the myth that the first 10 questions are the most important ones. Each question has its importance. Remember, GMAT is a computer adaptive test, so the questions you receive will be determined b the questions you have already answered. Practice is the key to acing the exam; pacing yourself will enable you to answer all questions.

You would do well to learn how to read and then act to the questions. The GMAT’s strategy is to present the subject matter in a twisted and turned way, so as to trick the test takers! While reading a question, you must first try to figure out your role rather than reading the prompts before. Smart Learning teaches you to find your role first and then search for the relevant details to help you perform the role.

Understand that the GMAT aims to trick you by throwing questions other than those it thinks you would have assumed as expected! So be very careful and practice questions for your GMAT preparation. A simple geometry question on isosceles triangles may be asking you to find the base angles, but the trick may be to find the vertex angle; you are likely to miss the last if you are not well-versed with these little tricks.

Happy studying! 😉

Harvard Business School-HBS MBA Application changed! MBA candidates, let’s get cracking!

HBS– Harvard Business School, arguably the most coveted B-School among all students, set ablaze streams of queries and questions among prospective applicants and exam-takers of the GMAT when they announced a major change to the HBS Application procedure for the coming academic year 2013-14.

The HBS application has been reduced from 3 questions, to a single question with no word limit !

From an earlier pattern of 3 questions (600, 400, 400 words), HBS announced their essay question as follows: “You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?

That’s it, folks! A single essay question, with no word limit, and therefore lots of space for free expression. However, this entails more caution than you would feel at first site. Now that the limit has been dropped, there could be both pro and anti effects on the prospective applicants and their HBS applications.

HBS- Harvard Business School Application

Given no word limit, the first apprehension most of us face is of the HBS application being too short or too long. An applicant is likely to be too precise by limiting it to less than 500 words; on the other hand, one is also likely to be tempted to write a book-long thesis on the essentials, achievements and aims of oneself. Both, needless to say, are not apt for the application. Striking a balance between a too short and a too long essay is essential to solidify your MBA application.
If you notice, the procedure being followed until now was one that comprised questions asking an overview of the candidate in every possible perspective one could think of. It wanted your accomplishments, your career visions, your goals, and your mistakes in life – if you chose to answer them.
A way to tackle the new question, as it struck me while I was reading various suggestions on n number of websites, is to write an all-round answer that gives a gist of everything they asked previously in their applications!
Caution: the suggestion, once again, is not to write pages over pages describing oneself, but to give a short and interesting description of oneself.

Here’s listing 5 steps to make your application one that the admission committee says a “yes” to:

1. Your Harvard Business School application should begin with a 3 to 4 lines introduction about yourself, in likeness to what you would write on a cover letter. Next you could highlight 2 to 3 of your accomplishments. This is what the previous essay pattern required. So we think this is what the committee would be expecting. Let’s stand up to expectations, and give the application an old flavour to start. Follow the rule and state your accomplishments in a way to reflect your work, development and the kind of extra-curricular you have engaged in. Remember, they know your resume already; they’re only waiting to know what’s the special bit in you that makes you unique from others.

2. Highlighting mistakes of your life, which was previously a part of the essay question, usually did not add value. However experts from the committee itself are of the opinion that if you actually have a story that adds value to your life, say addiction and recovery, you could actually score on this one.
I feel however, that it altogether skip this bit, unless you have a valid reason to explain, say a low GPA on your GMAT and how it need not be the defining feature of you. You could validate this by highlighting other aspects of you that you feel are more important than GPA scores, say your engagement with social communities, or developing your personal qualities.

3. Taking guidance from the previous procedure, keep your essay within a minimum limit of 1500 – 2000 words, not exceeding 2200 words. A major flaw noticed in applications is candidates harping about why they want to get into HBS, or why they are applying to HBS. Take it easy, folks! They know why you’re applying and what value HBS holds. This is not a Grad. School that needs to know your thinking about going to their college.

4. You would do good to include some community service that you may have engaged with in your life until now, say some social service organization in your school or college. This is a winner inclusion in the application. Another thing would be to exclude any kind difficult decision making you did in your life, unless you feel that it really added value to your being. Fact remains that they do not care about it if it does not hold significance to the course you’re applying for.

5. Taking another guideline from the previous procedure, another point to be included could be your career vision, which until now was asked exquisitely as part of the choice question. This always adds value to the application, provided you can display your career vision in a way that validates having an MBA- for this, “you need to think MACRO”, as Sandy Kreisberg says. Your vision should entail a foundation on what you have achieved until now in your life, and how an MBA will augment what you ultimately want from life. Again prevent harping about what, why and how HBS will help you.

Referrring to the official gmat website may help, too:

The key is to focus on yourself; inform them about yourself, and not about their institution. Carve a picture of yourself for them such that they want to see the living replica in their institution!  Harvard Business School begins accepting applications September, 2013.

All the best!


Did you know that you that it is possible to prepare for the GMAT and get a great score (you’ll need that for your Harvard Business School Application !) while working crazy hours? Read our blog on how you can turbo charge your GMAT preparation and give your HBS Application a major boost!

GMAT Preparation while working crazy hours. How to do it?

A prospective GMAT applicant recently posted a question on Quora wondering how to prepare for the GMAT given his hectic work schedule.  See our answer below:

Prospective GMAT Applicant’s Question

I’m an engineering graduate working at one of the biggest infrastructure MNC’s on the planet. My office hrs. are  from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. After the office, I rush to gym (to me which is the most important thing of the day). After gym and dinner I reach home at about 9 p.m. I feel too tired to pick up a book or to even read a news article. How do I get my MBA prep (GMAT Preparation) going?

Our comments

Depending on your comfort level with standardized tests and how well you remember high-school math and english, GMAT preparation can be a month-long or a longer affair. It is important to ascertain your goals in terms of target scores and schools and get a sense of your current level of preparation prior to devising a test-prep strategy.

Many, if not all, applicants to top-tier schools would have a work-schedule as grueling or even crazier than what you have so you shouldn’t be overly pessimistic about not having enough time to study.  Follow the Pareto Principle to master your individual key problem areas before moving to the marginally important topics to get the most out of your prep time.

I would encourage you to start with a diagnostic test to get to know where you stand right now.  Analyze your weak areas and strong suits and get a good handle on areas that you will be focusing on before jumping headfirst into preparing for the exam. It is absolutely critical to note that your prep strategy need not be the same as someone else’s.  For instance, an Indian engineer might find Sentence Correction more challenging than say an American liberal arts major, whereas the latter might need to spend more time on Quant than the former applicant. In other words, Get to know what you need to improve before you start the improvement process.

As mentioned by Alex Pak rel=”nofollow”, a class might be a good way to stay motivated and on schedule but the tradeoff between flexibility (self-study) and structure (class) is an individual decision that you outta make by yourself.  The key is to closely measure your progress and make sure you stick to a plan, whether inside class or outside it.

I am assuming that you are targeting the 2014 admissions cycle so you have enough time on hand to prepare for the exam and write a solid application.  Good Luck!

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