Critical Reasoning Practice Test 1

The GMAT Critical Reasoning questions are designed to measure the reasoning skills that you use when you craft arguments, evaluate arguments, and formulate plans of action. It is a challenging section of the test, and you will definitely benefit by working through practice questions. Our free GMAT Critical Reasoning practice test is a great place to start your test prep.

Directions: Each of these GMAT critical reasoning practice questions are based on a short argument, a set of statements, or a plan of action. For each practice question, select the best answer of the choices given.

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Question 1
Pollution levels in natural habitats have risen so much that many wild game animals have been dangerously contaminated. New legislation is needed to further regulate the processing and distribution of wild-animal meat.

  • Which of the following, if true, most strengthens this argument?
Habitat destruction presents a greater threat to wild game populations than does hunting.
Game meat is lower in unhealthy hormones and antibiotics than meat from commercially raised animals.
Purchased game meat is the primary source of animal protein for a significant number of people.
The wild animal population has held fairly steady over the past decade.
Drafting appropriate legislation would be a lengthy and expensive process.
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). (C) strengthens the argument because it rules out a counter-argument. If few people depend upon purchasing game meat, then the regulations on the sale of game meat will only affect the food safety of a small population. However, if a larger population is affected by the safety of game meat, the argument for regulation is stronger.
Question 2
A business is considering changing its work week structure. At present, employees work the standard Monday to Friday work week. The new structure would allow employees to choose which two days to claim as their weekend, opening up the option to work on Saturdays and Sundays.

  • The adoption of this plan would be most likely to decrease employees' productivity if the employees' job functions required them to __________.
work undisturbed for several hours at a time.
submit their work for weekly managerial appraisal.
work late hours.
collaborate on monthly group projects.
correspond with banks daily, which are usually closed on Sundays.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Consider the job functions in the answer choices and decide which one requires something that conflicts with working on Saturdays or Sundays. Since banks are typically closed on Sundays, any employees choosing to work on Sunday would find it difficult (if not impossible) to fulfill their required functions. In (E), if a worker's position requires daily correspondence with banks, then the worker would be unable to fulfill his or her job function on a Sunday, when most banks are closed.
Question 3
Cheddar cheese is higher in saturated fats than Gouda cheese. Because Brie cheese is higher in saturated fat than Camembert cheese, we can conclude that Cheddar cheese has more saturated fat than Camembert cheese.

  • Any of the following statements, if introduced as an additional premise, makes the above argument logically correct EXCEPT:
Camembert cheese has less fat than Gouda cheese.
Gouda cheese is higher in fat than Brie cheese.
Gouda cheese and Brie cheese have the same fat content.
The fat content of Cheddar cheese is equal to the fat content of Brie.
Brie cheese is higher in saturated fat than cheddar cheese.
Question 3 Explanation: 
(E) is the correct response. We can express the information in the passage as a series of inequalities: Cheddar > Gouda. Brie > Camembert. If Brie > Cheddar, it does not necessarily follow that Cheddar > Camembert. Just because we know Brie has more fat than either, doesn’t mean we know their relationship to each other.
Question 4
Composer: The works of Mozart’s sister, Maria Anna Mozart (nicknamed Nannerl), unfortunately have not survived to the present-day. However, there is evidence as a child she travelled between European cities with her famous brother, showcasing her considerable harpsichord and pianoforte skills. Had her work survived, it’s likely posterity would have recognized two genius Mozarts, rather than one.

  • Which of the following best suggests that the conclusion suggested by the composer is justified?
There are diary entries and correspondence that have survived to present-day which indicate Nannerl was as prolific as her brother.
Most of Mozart’s musical ability was inherited from his parents who were themselves talented musicians.
The composer’s opinion is shared by most experts on the Mozart family.
Women were not encouraged in Mozart’s day to become professional musicians.
Mozart’s earliest contributions were on the violin, while Nannerl’s were likely to be on the keyboard.
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). If Nannerl had demonstrated considerable harpsichord and pianoforte skills on tours with her brother, then finding diary entries and correspondence that indicate that Nannerl was as prolific as her brother will tend to suggest that both Nannerl and her brother were geniuses and that Nannerl would have been recognized as a genius by posterity if her works had survived.

Answer choice B is not correct. Just because Wolfgang inherited musical abilities from his parents does not mean that his sister would have inherited the same abilities. Nannerl could have inherited traits (that were suppressed in her parents) from her grandparents who were not as talented as her parents.
Question 5
A study of 1,000 elementary school students across the nation found that those who had received some training in the violin performed better academically, on average, than those who had not. This suggests that learning to play a musical instrument makes children that age academically stronger.

  • The conclusion of this argument assumes which of the following?
Better academic performance can be attributed to factors other than musical ability.
The skills required to learn to play the violin are common to all musical instruments.
High academic prowess results from the skills nurtured by learning to play an instrument.
There is no proven correlation between musical skill and academic ability.
Many high-ranked schools require students to learn to play an instrument at this age.
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). This argument tells us that learning to play an instrument at a young age is a positive influence on a child's academic abilities, based on the finding that students who learned to play the violin performed better than students who did not. For this argument to hold logically, it must be the case that what is true of the violin is true of all musical instruments. For the arguer to jump from "violin" to "musical instrument" presupposes that the former is fully representative of the latter. This assumption is necessary for the conclusion to hold. None of the other answer choices presents a necessary assumption. Answer choice (C) does not present a necessary assumption since the conclusion will still hold even if high academic prowess does not result from skills nurtured while learning to play an instrument.
Question 6
Although both white and black moths can be found in the relatively new industrial area of City X, the fact that only the white version can be found in the original, residential part of City X indicates that the black moth in City X is a recent evolutionary development. While the City X moth was originally white, mutant black moths living near the factories in the industrial area enjoyed a competitive survival advantage, since they blended in better with the sooty air and buildings. Also noteworthy is that the moths in nearby City Y, where there never were any factories, are all white.

  • In the given argument, what role do the boldfaced selections play?
The first is the argument's main conclusion; the second suggests an exception to that conclusion.
The first is evidence in support of the argument's main conclusion; the second is evidence in support of an alternative, rejected conclusion.
The first is an interpretation of evidence offered in support of the main conclusion; the second is other evidence offered in support of the main conclusion.
The first is an interpretation of evidence that would support an alternate conclusion; the second is evidence in support of the argument's main conclusion.
They are both evidence offered in support of a conclusion that is rejected.
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The argument begins with two pieces of evidence (two colored moths in the industrial area, only one in the residential area). Then it continues with what turns out to be the conclusion of the argument (the black moth is a new evolution). The second sentence provides an interpretation of the given evidence that supports the conclusion. The final sentence provides an additional piece of evidence, which could also support the conclusion.
Question 7
Eatco, a restaurant equipment supply firm, has decided to pay all of its salespeople on a commission structure rather than the salary structure previously used at the company. Eatco executives have assured the sales staff that, with the busy holiday season coming up, the commission structure will either maintain or increase the salespeople’s current pay.

  • Which of the following could cause the assurances given by Eatco executives to the sales staff to be untrue?
A competing restaurant equipment supply firm also switches its salespeople over to a commission structure.
Some customers requesting items that are out of stock and have to be ordered.
The old salary structure did not include health insurance, but the commission structure provides the salespeople with the option to subscribe to a cafeteria-style insurance plan.
Several new restaurants are opening in the area.
The Eatco executives decided to hire several new salespeople on the commission structure, in order to make sure that all customers are getting the best possible service.
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Eatco executives have assured the sales staff that they will continue to make at least as much money on the commission structure as they did on the salaried structure. Since commissions depend on each salesperson maximizing his or her own sales, if Eatco hired new salespeople, it could reduce the commissions received by the current sales staff. (D) is not correct because the salespeople will actually have more opportunities to sell restaurant equipment if several new restaurants open in the area.
Question 8
Psychologists have noticed that the vast majority of diagnosed sociopaths were juvenile delinquents in their youth. They hypothesize that a juvenile delinquent is more likely than youth in the general population to become a diagnosed sociopath as an adult because punishment at a young age fosters antisocial behavior.

  • Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports the psychologists’ interpretation of the link between punishment and antisocial behavior?
The rate of adults diagnosed as sociopaths who were not juvenile delinquents is four times lower than the rate of adults diagnosed as sociopaths who were juvenile delinquents.
The correlation found by the psychologists has been noted to be true for psychopaths and those with borderline personality disorder.
Almost everyone who spent time in juvenile hall as a youth exhibits abnormal behavior as an adult.
The likelihood of a juvenile delinquent becoming a diagnosed sociopath later in life increases the longer he or she remains incarcerated.
Less than half of adults who are diagnosed sociopaths have reported they spent less than one year in juvenile delinquent facilities in their youth.
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct response is answer choice (D). The psychologists’ hypothesis is that “a juvenile delinquent is more likely than youth in the general population to become a diagnosed sociopath as an adult”. The reason given to support the psychologists’ hypothesis is that “punishment at a young age fosters antisocial behavior”.

One way to strengthen an argument is to show that the premises on which the argument is based are indeed valid. Answer choice (D) does this by suggesting that the length of time a juvenile spends in prison is related to the likelihood of a juvenile delinquent becoming a diagnosed sociopath later in life.

If you chose (A): This choice provides statistics that suggest that among adults diagnosed as sociopaths, those who were juvenile delinquents far outnumber those who were not juvenile delinquents. This answer choice merely confirms what the psychologists already stated. It does not support the causal relationship that the author suggests exists between juvenile delinquency/punishment and antisocial behavior later in life.

If you chose (B), remember that the mere existence of a similar correlation does not strengthen the original correlation.

If you chose (C), you’re missing the fact that the scope of the conclusion here relates to the diagnosis of sociopathy later in life. Answer choice (C) merely suggests that there is a correlation between detention in juvenile hall as a youth and antisocial behavior later in life. Just because two factors are correlated does not mean that one is the cause of the other. Some other factor could have been responsible for the antisocial behavior exhibited later in life. Answer choice (D) is a better choice.

If you chose (E), remember to be suspicious of unrelated statistics on GMAT Critical Reasoning. Just because less than 50% of sociopaths reported they spent < 1 year in juvenile delinquent facilities does not mean that the two factors are related. This answer choice merely suggests a correlation between two factors.
Question 9
A poll conducted last month suggested that a McDonald’s branch with a displayed specials menu was more likely to sell super-size meals, even if they weren’t specials. The manager of McDonald’s came to the conclusion that having a displayed specials menu makes customers more likely to super-size orders since the specials menu features large, mouth-watering images of food.

  • Which of the following, if true, would bolster the McDonald’s manager’s interpretation?
According to the poll, customers who ordinarily super-sized their orders tended to order less food when the specials menu was not displayed.
80% percent of those surveyed who ordered the super-sized meals did not order a special.
When the specials menu was taken down to be cleaned, no one purchased any specials.
Most of the customers who super-sized their orders responded that they had seen the specials menu prior to ordering.
The Burger King restaurant next door without a specials menu reported fewer “super-size” sales than the surveyed restaurant.
Question 9 Explanation: 
(A) is the correct choice. Since we’re trying to “bolster,” or strengthen, the manager’s interpretation, it’s helpful to ask, “why?” Why would seeing pictures of food cause customers to order more food? The correct choice will reinforce the stated cause/effect relationship. We can strengthen the claim that visual stimulation causes an increase in desire for food by showing that there is an increase in desire for food in the presence of visual stimulation or by showing that there is a reduced desire for food in the absence of visual stimulation. Answer choice (A) strengthens the manager’s interpretation by suggesting that customers ordered less food when the specials menu was not displayed.

If you chose (B), this answer choice does not help relate the visual cue of the specials menu to ordering a super-size meal, and therefore would not bolster the manager’s conclusion.

If you chose (C), this choice is out of scope. The argument is only concerned with linking the visual images of food to the increased number of “super-sized” orders. The ordering of the specials themselves is tertiary.

If you chose (D), just because seeing the specials menu and super-sizing an order are correlated does not mean that there is a cause/effect relationship between the two variables. Customers may have ordered super-sized meals for any number of reasons other than seeing the specials menu prior to ordering. For example, if the super-sized orders came with a free drink, customers may prefer super-sized orders for that reason.

If you chose (E), there could be many reasons why Burger King next door had fewer “super-size” sales than the surveyed restaurant. This choice is far too vague. Look for a more specific choice to bolster the manager’s interpretation: that “seeing” pictures of food leads to ordering more food.
Question 10
Despite suggestions that there is a need to find alternative energy sources, the demand for Wobsqua grass, which is a source of renewable energy, has not grown in the past decade. Even though the crop size and the market price for Wobsqua grass have also remained constant during this decade, last year Wobsqua grass farmers enjoyed a 15% increase in their profits over the previous year.

  • All of the following statements, if true for last year, could help to explain the profit growth EXCEPT:
Wobsqua grass is highly desirable as an import-crop for its energy production potential, but is no longer widely considered a useful food source for grazing animals, so overall importing has actually decreased.
The price of raw fuel, needed to power harvesting machines for Wobsqua grass, decreased by 20% overall in the past decade.
Interest in developing alternative energy sources led the United Nations to subsidize Wobsqua grass production in many principalities.
Wobsqua grass farmers, once relegated to the periphery of farmers' associations, have created their own cooperative association to share in common costs like lobbying government.
Newly developed technology for Wobsqua grass harvesting was introduced, allowing some of the work that could previously only be done manually to be done by means of the new technology.
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct response is (A). This is a resolve the argument question. The correct choice must help reconcile the apparent contradictory information by showing why, in fact, both facts can be true. Here we have an EXCEPT question as well, where all but one of the answer choices will be feasible. Begin by identifying the contrast. Don't be misled in this question by the use of the word “despite” in the first sentence: the contrast here is entirely contained within the second sentence. If output and price remained the same, how could it be that profits increased if demand did not grow? There are many possible explanations, four of which we will see in the answer choices. The only option that is NOT feasible is (A): if imports decreased, that still does not explain the rise in profits.
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