Whether you’re working on a Critical Reasoning, Sentence Correction, Data Sufficiency, Problem Solving, or Integrated Reasoning, process of elimination is still a hugely important strategy on the GMAT. However, each question should be approached slightly different.
Process of elimination is perhaps most helpful on sentence correction questions. One strategy is to scan the answer choices vertically in order to spot where the choices begin to diverge in wording. If you’re using Prep4GMAT app, the x-ray feature will train your brain to spot patterns in the answer choices. For example, you might notice that A, C, and D use “have grown” while B and E use “has grown.” If in this scenario, you’re able to eliminate A, C, and D, and are now trying to decide between B and E, remember that GMAT questions often include several choices that would be considered grammatically correct, the question is which of the choices is the least awkward.
With Data Sufficiency, it’s all a numbers game. Remember that if statement 1 is insufficient or irrelevant to the question at hand, then choices A and D can immediately be eliminated. Similarly, if statement 2 is insufficient or irrelevant to the question, then choices B and D can immediately be eliminated. If you can determine that one of the statements is sufficient alone, then choices C and E can be eliminated.
One of the most common traps in critical reasoning is answers that “sound right” but go well beyond the scope of the information available. If the question asks you which answer weaken/strengthens the argument or asks you to find the assumption, look at the strength of the connection between the conclusion and the answer choices. If you’re down to the last two choices, and one of the choices only works if you really stretch things logically, it’s probably not the best option.
Once again, make sure you eliminate choices that go beyond the scope of the passage. Once you’ve eliminated those answers as well as any that obviously contradict the passage, you’re hopefully down to 2-3 choices. As with sentence correction, the key here is to find the difference between the options. GMAT questions will occasionally include two similar choices, but one will be more moderate and the other will be more extreme. For example, you might be able to decide whether the tone of a passage could be considered “passionate” or simply “optimistic.” In most cases, the choice will be the more moderate answer.
Don’t choose impulsively when it gets down to your final two. It’s likely that you’ve already invested a minute or more on this question, and you need to evaluate both choices carefully rather than just going on instinctive feeling and trusting that you have a 50% chance regardless.
One of the roadblocks to using the process of elimination strategy on the GMAT is the fact that GMAT is a computer adaptive test and therefore does not allow you to physically mark answers as incorrect. Some students use their scratch pad to mark the answers they’ve eliminated on a separate sheet of paper. Others try to train themselves to mentally cross out questions. In general, we find it’s most helpful for students to be able to physically cross out answers when they first start a subject, but moving away from that as they master that particular question type.
Keep an eye out for the upcoming version of Prep4GMAT app, which will allow users to cross out an answer choice with a single swipe!