Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to introduce Manhattan GMAT instructor Andrea Pawliczek as a writer on our blog (even though she is a New England Patriots fan)! This is Part 1 of her two-part first post. Give Andrea a warm welcome in the comments!

Success on the GMAT demands many efforts: learning new skills, sharpening existing skills, and in some cases forgetting or setting aside some of the skills that we use in real-life. It is this last demand that often proves the most challenging, as a GMAT test taker must veer away from the type of thinking that has served her well to this point in life.

One such case occurs in data sufficiency problems, which ask us not to solve a problem but rather to identify when we have enough information to solve a problem. In both my professional and personal life I have been asked to solve problems on many occasions (How much will the new project cost? How many gallons of paint do I need to buy to paint the living room?). I cannot think of a real life occasion when I have specifically been asked when I have enough data to answer a question.

As such, when I see a problem on paper, my first instinct is to take all the available data and figure out a solution. This approach would likely have somewhat disastrous results if applied to data sufficiency questions on the GMAT. While it may take time to understand this difference, as a GMAT instructor I have found most students willing to accept the idea that data sufficiency problems are a weird artifact of the GMAT and a specific methodology must be learned [potentially add a link to a MGMAT post on data sufficiency?].

Another place where GMAT thinking diverges significantly from real world logic occurs on critical reasoning questions. Perhaps the word “critical” in the question title leads to the common perception that “I can think critically. Therefore, I should be able to tackle critical reasoning questions.” In fact, many of the critical thinking skills that are considered assets in the real world can work to your detriment on the GMAT if you lack the awareness about what critical reasoning is truly testing.

Specifically, the ability to draw connections and consider all possibilities beyond that which is explicitly stated is a highly valued skill in life. On GMAT critical reasoning questions, it is almost exactly the opposite of what you want to do.

Tomorrow, we’ll analyze a critical reasoning argument using real world analysis and GMAT analysis, plus there will be a bonus quiz!

#### Andrea Pawliczek

Andrea Pawliczek was born and raised in Lexington, Massachusetts before moving to Atlanta to attend Emory University, where she earned a BA in Economics and Chemistry summa cum laude. She used her score of 800 on the GMAT to gain entry into Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. After graduating as a Fuqua Scholar in 2008, Andrea moved to Boulder, Colorado where she is pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors including co-founding RockyRadar, a technology blog. While Andrea enjoys the active outdoor lifestyle in Boulder, her loyalty to sports teams remains firmly rooted on the east coast with the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots and Duke Blue Devils’ Basketball. When she is not watching sports, Andrea will most likely be found out on a run or bike ride or at a poker table.

### 5 responses to Critical Thinking Does Not Equal GMAT Critical Reasoning, Part 1

1. Data Sufficiency problems a weird artifact haha!
They’re pretty interesting to me though.

Completely agree on the part that one has to be highly unassuming on critical reasoning questions, in fact its a common trick to lure people into assumptions.

2. Ha! This is extremely helpful because the first time I attempted to solve the Critical Reasoning questions, my approach failed. Real life critical reasoning skills are probably more of hindrance than an asset to solving these problems.

3. Good post, thank you! Can you explain the first paragraph more?

4. All I can think about is cigarette smoking. I im sure i dont need to take a drag and if perhaps anybody offered me a draw here and now, I will definetly refuse. I feel Im in a pretty bad state of mind and have been having trouble going to sleep but yet Im sure I can be resilient. The e cigarettes may make it easier in the end.

5. The good vibe for everybody.Problems of health blogging me at home (for the moment) I take of come here, participate a little good grow has all !