Critical Reasoning

Critical Reasoning

An assumption is a premise on which the given information rests or is founded. Usually,the assumption is never stated directly in the passage, i.e. it is implicit, although on rare occasions,it may be mentioned partially or completely. In such questions, the conclusion of the premise is provided to the student,and he/she is asked to identify the premise or  assumption on which the conclusion rests.

Keep in mind that the assumption is a piece of information which MUST be true in order to arrive at the conclusion that has been given. To illustrate what an assumption actually is, let's take a look at an easy example, before we proceed to more difficult ones.

The man told the students, 'Do not go for an MBA. More than 70% of MBA degree holders are unemployable.' There are two assumptions in the aforementioned sentence: 1. The first and the most obvious one - The man assumes that all the students will go for an MBA, or are thinking of going for an MBA at the very least. 2. The second, and more difficult one - The man assumes that each of the students whom he is addressing will fall among the 70% of MBA degree holders who are unemployable, should they go onto complete their MBA. Types of Questions 1. The student may be asked for an implicit assumption that underlies the passage.This is the most common type of assumption question.The question stem looks somewhat like this: 'Which of the following is an assumption that, if true, would support the conclusion of the passage?' 'Which of the following is an implicit assumption underlying the passage?' 2. The student may be asked to identify the answer choice that is NOT an assumption underlying the passage. In this type, all but one options are assumptions of the given information. That option may be an inference,a conclusion,or any other irrelevant data. The question stem looks somewhat like this: 'Which of the following is NOT an assumption underlying the passage?'

Tips for Solving :

Step 1: Read the given paragraph carefully and try to ascertain the conclusion or the main argument that the author makes. Separate it from other irrelevant data provided in the paragraph. Such data is usually given to confuse the student.

Step 2: Once you have identified the argument conclusion, ask yourself the following questions: Why is the conclusion true? What has the author not mentioned but considers to be a given, in order to arrive at the conclusion?

Step 3: Look for missing links between the premise and the conclusion. Do not look at the answer choices straightaway. Instead try to ascertain the piece of information that is necessary in order to arrive at the conclusion.

Step 4: If you have a fair idea of what this information should comprise, proceed to read the answer choices, and choose the option closest to what you have in mind.

Step 5: Should you fail into develop an idea regarding the possible assumption of the passage, look at each answer choice, and try to connect each statement to the main passage. Ask yourself the following question: Can the conclusion of the passage be derived.should this statement be false? If yes. then you can eliminate that option. If not, then that is your correct answer.

Step 6: Be wary of trap answers. Such answers may have the following characteristics:

6a: It may provide new and/or more specific information distantly related to the topic being discussed, but go outside the scope of what is being discussed.

6b: It may provide an inference of the passage, rather than an assumption. This has proven very tricky for students to identify. We will discuss inferences in a separate topic later.

6c: It may be deliberately designed in a way to tempt the student into choosing it, by making it overly complicated and loaded with statistical data.

6d: It may speak in absolute terms,e.g. 'It can never be..' or 'It always happens..' Such statements are less likely to be the assumption of the passage.

Strengthening Statements Now that we have seen what assumptions are and what they look like, we can proceed towards solving a question type that may at times employ the understanding of assumptions.

In this question type, a small paragraph is given,and the student has to identify the argument made in the passage, and choose the answer choice that most effectively strengthens it. Such questions can be difficult because very often the student is given answer choices all of which strengthen the argument to some extent,but the student has to find the one which strengthens it the most.

This requires comprehension on the student's part, and the ability to understand the main point that the author is trying to make. To see what a strengthening statement actually is, take a look at the following example:

The man told the students, 'Do not go for an MBA. More than 70% of MBA degree holders are unemployable.' Can you identify the strengthening statement here? It has been underlined for your benefit. Keep in mind that the strengthening statement can never be the main conclusion of the passage. It only reinforces the conclusion or the main argument of the passage. More often than not, a strengthening statement turns the assumption of the passage into a stated premise, and/or provides evidence, statistical or empirical to reinforce the conclusion of the passage. types of Questions 1.The student may be asked for a statement that most strengthens the argument of the passage. This is the most common type of strengthening statement question. The question stern looks somewhat like this: 'The conclusion of the passage would be more properly drawn out if it were made clear that..' 'Which of the following statements, if true,most strengthens the argument made in the passage?' 'Which of the following statements is the author most likely to agree with?' 2. The student may be asked to identify the answer choice that does NOT strengthen the argument made in the passage. In this type, all but one options are strengthening statements of the conclusion of the passage. That option may be an inference, a conclusion, or any other irrelevant data. The question stem looks somewhat like this: 'Which of the following statements does NOT strengthen the main argument made in the passage?' IiP-S for Solving Step 1: Read the given paragraph carefully and try to ascertain the conclusion or the main argument that the author makes. Separate it from other irrelevant data provided in the paragraph.Such data is usually given to confuse the student. Step 2: Once you have identified the argument/conclusion,try to also identify the assumptions. It is possible that the strengthening statement is simply a direct assertion of the assumption. Step 3: Look at the answer choices. Which of them provides a stated premise for the conclusion of the passage? Eliminate options that containdata which is out of scope, irrelevant or weaken the conclusion. Step 4: In the case that more than one option strengthens the main argument, try to ascertainthe one on which the conclusion is most dependent on; i.e. does the conclusion fall apart if one of them is not true? If yes,this is the right answer. Step 5·The strenothenina statements might have the following characteristics· 5a: It may substantiate a claim made in the passage, by providing empirical evidence or statistical data. 5b: As discussed previously,it may simply reassert directly the implicit assumption underlying the passage. 5c: It may introduce a general principle or a situationaldetail that may contribute in strengthening the conclusion of the passage. 5d: It may cite a study, survey or scientific discovery that makes the conclusion more likely to be true. Remember that you only need to make the conclusion more likely to be correct, you do not need to make it certainto be correct. 5d: It may speak in absolute terms or use powerfulexpressions, e.g. 'It is certain that..' or 'It can never be possible..' Inference This type of questions is often confused with the conclusion type critical reasoning questions. There if a fine line of difference between the two. In this question type, some information is given in the form of a small paragraph, and the student must choose from the answer choices, the option that can logically be deduced from the information. Keep in mind that the inference is not necessarily the conclusionof the passage. The conclusion is the main idea or the mainargument that the author seeks to make, while the inference is simply a fact that can be logically deduced from the information provided in the passage. Let us take the following example to understand the difference between the two. 'I cannot consume dairy products. Lactose intolerance affects about 28% of the population,and runs in my family.' Conclusion: I cannot consume dairy products. Inference: Imust be lactose intolerant. Additional info: Lactose intolerance affects about 28% of the population. IiP-S for Solving Step 1: Read the paragraphcarefully,and try to analyse its scope. This is important as severalanswer options might contain statements that fall outside the scope. Step 2: This is one type of CR question,where it is advised to go through all the answer choices,since it is not always possible to come up with an inference before going through the answer choices. Step 3: Be wary of trap answers. Eliminate answer choices that: 3a: Can or cannot be inferred from the information. Certainty is key in arriving on the right answer. It is important that the statement should certainly be inferable from the given information. 3b: Are too extreme, or are an overstatement. Keep an eye on the tone of the passage in order to check if the option is extreme. If the passage employs a neutral and unbiased tone throughout, an extreme inference is not likely to be the answer. 3c: Paraphrase the original argument, and/or are repetitive.Keep in mind that the inference will never be stated directly in the passage. It requires the student to apply his own analysing abilities to make a deduction from the given information. Step 4: One common mistake made by students in solving such questions is that they tend to apply their own knowledge of the topic being discussed in the passage. For instance, if the passage is on a topic from economics, a student who holds knowledge of it might use that knowledge in arriving at the inference. Never use any information which is not given in the passage, which you might know, or which might seem obvious, in arriving upon the correct answer. Step 5: After elimination, narrow down the remaining options on the basis of scope of the passage,and choose the most suitable answer. Conclusion Solving this type of questionis similar to solvinginference type questions, althoughthe two varieties are very differentin nature.Typically,a small paragraph will be given,and you will be asked to choose the option that sums up the main idea of the passage,or gives the conclusion that the author makes. The question stemlooks somewhatlike this: Which of the followingstatements best sums up the mainidea of the passage?' Which of the following best states the autho(s conclusionin the passage?' Which of the following conclusions can be most properly drawn from the passage above?' Let us look at an example to understand ths. A UK study finds workers' job att tudes can be bolstered by allowing themto personalize their desk space.Whenpeople feeluncomfortablein their surroundings they are less engaged - not only with the space but also with what they do in it. IIthey can have some control,that all changes and people report beinghappier at wort< , identifying more with their employer,and are more efficient Wilen doing theirjobs. Condusion/Main idea: Productivrty can beincreasedif workers are allowed to personalize their desk space,as it makes the workers more comfortablein their surroundings. Inference: Workers who are allowed to personalize theirdeskspace are lkely to be more productive than those who are not. TiQs for Solving Step 1:Read the paragraph carefully,and try to analyseits scope.This is important as several answer options might containstatements that falloutside the scope. Step 2:Thisis another type of CR question,whereit is advised to go through an the answer choices.sinceit is not always possible to come up with aninference before going through the answer choices. Step 3:The conclusion willnot be an inference of file passage. However, it willnever contradict theinformation provided in the passage. Step 4: The conclusion can paraphrase the originalargumen or sum up the essence of the passage. Keepin mindthat theinference will never be stated directly in the passage,butthe conclusion might. Step 4:Do not apply any information not givenin the passage,in arriving upon the right answer. Step 5:After elimination.narrow down the remaining options on the basis of scope of the passage,and choose the most suitable answer. Conclusion Solving lhis type of questionis similar to solving inference /Pe quest ons,allhoughlhe two varieties are very different in nature.Typically,a small paragraph will be given,and youwill be asked to choose the option that sums up the main idea of the passage,or gives the conclusion that the author makes. The question stemlooks somewhatlike this: 'Which of the following statements best sums up the mainidea of the passage?' 'Which oi the following best states lhe authors conclusionin the passage?' 'Which oi the following conclusions can be most property drawn from the passage above?' Let us look at an example to understand ths. A UK study finds workers' job att tudes can be bolsteredby allowing themlo personalize their deskspace. Whenpeople feeluncomfortablein 111eirsurroundings they are less engaged - not only with the space bul also with what lhey do in it. IIthey can have some control,lhat all changes and people report being happier at work, identifying more wilh!heir employer,and are more efficient when doing their jobs. Condusion/Main Idea: Productiv ty can beincreasedif workers are allowedto personalize their desk space,as it makes the workers more comfortable in their surroundings. Inference: Workers who are allowed to personalize their deskspace are likely to be more productive than those who are not. TIps for Solving Step 1:Read the paragraph carefully,and try to ana yseits scope.This is important as several answer options might containstatements that falloutside the scope. Step 2:Thisis another type of CR question,whereit is advised to go through allthe answer choices,sinceitis not always possible to come up with aninference before going through the answer choices. Step 3:The conclusion will not be an inference of lhe passage. However,it willnever contradict theinformat on provided in lhe passage. Step 4:The conclusion can paraphrase the original argument or sum up the essence of the passage. Keep in mind that the inference will never be stated directly in lhe passage,but the conclusion might. Step 4:Do not apply any information not given in the passage,in arriving upon the right answer. Step 5:After elimination,narrow down the remaining opt ons on the basis of scope of the passage,and choose the most suitable answer. Course of Action This is one of the most difficult type of CR questions. In this question type, the studentis givena small paragraph that highlights a situation,problem or unresoved issue.The studentis then givenfour or five aternatives and asked to identify the one that provides a guideline or administrat ve step to solve tile problem orimprove tile situation.Take alook at the example below. Students in village X have resortedto crossing the unmanned rai vay tradeing a cause or an effect at absolute level. This is because a statement can play tile role of both a cause and aneffect. Thus,you will always be given two or more statements and asked to ascertain the role played by themwith reference to each other. Step 5: One trick in solving this type of question is to lry to findthe sequence of the events describedin each statement. It is not necessary that the statements willbe arrangedin chronological order. You cansee thisin the example given above.The second statement describes an event which tool< place before the one described in the firs However,i you can identify the sequencein which the events occurred,you can ascertainwhich one is the cause and whichis the effect. Notingthe tenses of the events,can help to predict the order in which they occurred.The cause is aJways antecedent