How To Go About Solving Critical Reasoning Questions? (Comprehensive Guide)

The biggest folly that we, the students make when we
are attempting this type of questions can be highlighted under the following
bullets:- 馃榿


Think that by mere impulse we can
solve

Jump to marking the particular option just when we have
agreed to a particular option which is say B, and not even bothering to read
the other options


Think that Critical Reasoning questions cannot be solved by logic but mere gut instincts.

Well, I am sorry to inform you and to the former me
perhaps that you cannot be possibly farther than the truth.

Lets begin:-

These are the frequently asked questions or rather the
possible questions that came to my mind that a person can ask while tackling CR

1. How do we
approach the questions?

Ans:- 聽聽 First of
all read the paragraph well. Have patience. I cannot stress how important this
is when you are attempting CAT having under performed in my first attempt
itself. Try and understand what the author is trying to tell. Make short notes.
Perform scratch work. We will discuss on this as we proceed.

2. How many types
of Critical Reasoning questions are there?

Ans:- 聽聽 Well
many, in a single word. 馃榿 Jokes apart, you have to get these four words
drilled in your head.

a) Conclusion=
hence, thus, must, therefore etc

b) Premise=
tree of reason for the conclusion part. ( body stem )

c) Assumptions=
The basic connection that must be made. ( Read detective novels. Or watch the
good old hercule poirot series . Stimulate the senses 馃榿 )

d) Argument=
premise and conclusion

Eg:- I am sick.
Maybe it is because I聽 got wet in the
rain yesterday.

A basic assumption that one gets sick due to the event
of getting wet must be made.

But the major types ( more or less to give you an idea
) are as follows:-

Assumption based questions

Conclusion based questions

Inference based questions

Strengthening an argument based
questions

Weakening an argument based questions

Evaluating argument based questions

possible completing sentence after a
paragraph.

Finding the flaw type questions

 

3. So how shall I
proceed or go about answering the questions?

Ans:- 聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Keep
the following points in mind

1) 聽Identify assumption / strengthen /
weaken the conclusion type nature of the question and paragraph

2)聽 Identify
the conclusion

3) 聽Deduce
the conclusion / get the inference

4)聽Mimic the reasoning. Depending on
question type you will need to use one of the following 3 METHODS


METHOD 1: Use Venn diagrams


METHOD 2: Use x, y, z to simply questions


METHOD 3: Use logical operators; In questions which involve straight
forward negation or conditional analysis

5) 聽Resolve
the paradox
鈥 Perform regular elimination checks. Write down the option A,
B, C , D and E. Weigh each one against the other. Don鈥檛 hurry

6)聽 Identify
the flaw

7) 聽Repeat in your mind鈥 There is a definite
answer and I must not solve it without considering the parts of the argument
and I WILL NOT let my gut instincts play a major role in choosing an option. (
This works for me. You can try it out )

Now we shall deal with each problem pattern and how to
go about solving them.
I have tried to pick up solutions from here and there to aid you in the
thinking pattern that must be replicated each time you solve CR questions.

I) Assumption
example

Q1)

The median age in
developed countries is around 42 years, meaning that half the population is
below and half the population is above 42 years old. Reports provided by
psychologists indicate that 63% of those who seek psychological help in
developed countries are below 42 years old. Such evidence clearly indicates
that in developed countries psychological problems are more common among people
who are younger than 42 years.

 

The argument above
assumes that鈥

A) The percentage of the population with psychological
problems is not significantly higher for developed countries than for other
states.聽聽

B) Among those with psychological problems in
developed countries, the percentage who seek psychological help is not
significantly lower for those older than 42 than it is for those younger than
42.

C) One of the primary factors contributing to the
development of psychological disorders is inability to cope with excessive
stress resulting from professional activity.

D) The severity of psychological disorders in
developed countries among those who have not yet turned 42 is generally lower
than it is among those who are 42 or older.

E) A significant proportion of those 42 or older in
developed countries are retired and no longer subject to the stress associated
with educational or occupational activities.

This question requires you to notice that the subject
of the evidence is those who seek professional psychological help whereas the
subject of the conclusion is those with psychological problems. Even though the
two categories certainly overlap, it could be quite true that many of those who
have problems don鈥檛 seek help, and in that case, statistics about those who
visit psychologists would not lead to valid conclusions about all those who
need help. Look at these answer choices and see which ones help validate the
argument.

A) The percentage of the population with psychological
problems is not significantly higher for developed countries than for other
states. The whole argument deals with developed countries, so there is no need
to consider how these statistics relate to those in less developed
countries-Irrelevant.

B) Among those with psychological problems in
developed countries, the percentage who seek psychological help is not
significantly lower for those older than 42 than it is for those younger than
42. Correct. If a lot more of those who are 42+ and troubled simply don鈥檛 go to
see a psychologist, then it could be that an equal or higher percentage of 42+
citizens have problems but just don鈥檛 seek help. Choice B must be assumed if
the conclusion is to be valid.

C) One of the primary factors contributing to the
development of psychological disorders is inability to cope with excessive
stress resulting from professional activity. This choice is irrelevant to the
conclusion and therefore cannot support its validity.

D) The severity of psychological disorders in
developed countries among those who have not yet turned 42 is generally lower
than it is among those who are 42 or older. The argument is concerned with psychological
disorders in general, so the relative severity of such disorders is out of
scope.

E) A significant proportion of those 42 or older in
developed countries are retired and no longer subject to the stress associated
with educational or occupational activities. Irrelevant-true or not, this
assumption does not affect the conclusion of the argument.

The correct answer is B.

II) Strengthening
Example

Q2)

The postal service
is badly mismanaged. Thirty years ago, first-class letter delivery cost only
three cents. Since then, the price has increased sevenfold, with an actual
decrease in the speed and reliability of service.

All of the
following would tend to weaken the conclusion of the argument above EXCEPT:

a.The volume of mail handled by the postal service has
increased dramatically over the last thirty years.

b.Unprecedented increases in the cost of fuel for
trucks and planes have put severe upward pressures on postal delivery costs.

c.Private delivery services usually charge more than
does the postal service for comparable delivery services.

d.The average delivery time for a first-class letter
three decades ago was slightly longer than it is today.

e.The average level of consumer prices overall has
increased fourfold over the last thirty years.

Reviewing Answer Choices

a. The volume of mail handled by the postal service
has increased dramatically over the last thirty years.

This would seem to excuse the poor service/price
because the service has had to overcome a massive increase in volume.

b. Unprecedented increases in the cost of fuel for
trucks and planes have put severe upward pressures on postal delivery costs.

This would seem to excuse the poor service/price
because costs have increased dramatically.

c. Private delivery services usually charge more than
does the postal service for comparable delivery services.

This would seem to excuse the poor service/price
because other services are not as efficient.

d. The average delivery time for a first-class letter
three decades ago was actually slightly longer than it is today.

This shows they have made improvements in service,
suggesting that the postal service isn鈥檛 all that bad after all.

e. The average level of consumer prices overall has
increased fourfold over the last thirty years.

Since the price of postage has increased seven times
over, this suggests that postal prices have increased at a rate much quicker
than inflation. Thus, choice E does support the original argument, making this
the correct answer.

III) weakening examples

Q3)

 

In many
pre-schools, children tend to commonly get colds before their resistance
develops and the colds become much less frequent. It is clear that a child
requires several colds before white blood cell concentrations rise high enough
to effectively deal with colds.

Which of the
following, if true, most seriously weakens this theory?

A. Children commonly spread viruses and bacteria in a
small closed environment.

B. The use of Vitamin C increases resistance to the
common cold and decreases its frequency.

C. Parents stock up on cold medicine after a child
gets sick that alleviate the symptoms of a cold.

D. There are many strains of the cold virus and
children develop resistance to individual strains.

E. White blood cells fight infection and their production
levels are stimulated by high infection levels.

Reviewing Answer Choices

A. Children commonly spread viruses and bacteria in a
small closed environment.

Not Relevant

B. The use of Vitamin C increases resistance to the
common cold and decreases its frequency.

Not Relevant

C. Parents stock up on cold medicine after a child
gets sick that alleviate the symptoms of a cold.

This choice presents another possible reason to
undermine the argument, but the medicine deals with symptoms, not the cold per
se. So it is not reducing an instance of a cold, simply decreasing their
symptoms (no more runny noses!).

D. There are many strains of the cold virus and
children develop resistance to individual strains.

This choice suggests an alternative explanation for
the apparent improvement in a child鈥檚 ability to fight colds: the child simply
becomes immune to individual viruses per se. So, the theory that a child鈥檚
immune system needs high white blood cell concentrations isn鈥檛 the case, it is
an issue of exposure to certain strains. By suggesting a different causal
process to explain the reduction in colds, it weakens the argument.

E. White blood cells fight infection and their
production levels are stimulated by high infection levels.

This choice supports this statement, but the question
asks for what weakens it.

IV) Conclusion
examples

Q4)

 

Diamond Enterprises
is a store in Apisville that sells specialty luxury items.聽 For several years, Diamond reaped substantial
profits and was considering building branch stores in nearby counties.聽聽 Stibium Industries, for several years the
single largest employer in Apisville and the surrounding region, abruptly
closed its plant last year, causing widespread unemployment.聽 Only a fraction of the former Stibium workers
have found new jobs, and many of these at much lower wages.聽 Early this year, Diamond Enterprises has
filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing the closure of Stibium as one of the
primary causes.

Which of the
following inferences is best supported by the passage?

A. Diamond Enterprises would have avoided bankruptcy
if it had followed through with the plan to build branch stores during its more
prosperous years.

B. Stibium鈥檚 management team had a corporate account
with Diamond Enterprises, and ordered several luxury items used in business
meetings and to entertain prospective clients.

C. Diamond鈥檚 direct competitors, in Apisville and in
the surrounding region, are much larger than Diamond, and therefore benefitted
substantially from the conditions that arose after Stibium closed.

D. The closure of Stibium resulted in a loss of
revenue for Diamond Enterprises.

E. After Stibium Industry closed, Diamond Enterprises
was the single largest employer in Apisville
.

1)
The credited answer is (D).聽 We
know Diamond had high profits before Stibium closed, and we know it was close
to bankruptcy after Stibium closed, citing Stibum鈥檚 closure as one of the
primary causes.聽聽 There, in some way, as
a result of Stibium closing, Diamond lost revenue.聽 Consider the opposite of (D): If Stibium
closed, and that caused no revenue loss for Diamond, then how on earth could
Diamond cite the closure of Stibium as one of the causes of its plummet from
high profits to bankruptcy?聽 The opposite
of (D) is a scenario that makes no sense, so (D) is an unavoidable inference,
very well supported.

Choice (A) is a tempting answer.聽 Would branches of other Diamond stores in
other towns have reaped profits, enough to avoid the bankruptcy mentioned?聽 Perhaps.
That鈥檚 certainly a plausible possibility, but we don鈥檛 know for
sure.聽 If we don鈥檛 know for sure, it鈥檚
not a good inference.聽 (A) is incorrect.

Choice (B) is way too specific in the kind of
assumptions it makes.聽 It seems that
Diamond was getting some kind of revenue from Stibium, but was it the
management buying perks? or rank-and-file workers buying treats for
themselves?聽 We don鈥檛 know.聽 Anything that spins a highly specific story
is too much to infer strictly from the information in the prompt.聽聽聽 (B) is incorrect.

Choice (C) makes too many assumptions 鈥 does this
specialty store Diamond have direct competitors in the region? if so, are these
competitors larger?聽 was 鈥渂eing larger鈥
an advantage in the economic conditions that resulted from Stibium鈥檚
closure?聽 There are too many things we
don鈥檛 know, so we can draw a clear inference.
(C) is incorrect.

Choice (E) is entirely unfounded.聽 We have no idea how big Diamond is, and we
have no idea what other employers Apisville might have.

(E) is
incorrect.

(D) is by far the best answer.

V) Evaluate the
argument examples

 

Q5)

鈥淚n the past the
country of Malvernia has relied heavily on imported oil. Malvernia recently
implemented a program to convert heating systems from oil to natural gas.
Malvernia currently produces more natural gas each year than it uses, and oil
production in Malvernian oil fields is increasing at a steady pace. If these
trends in fuel production and usage continue, therefore, Malvernian reliance on
foreign sources [of] fuel is likely to decline soon.鈥

 

Which of the
following would be most useful to establish in evaluating the argument?

(A) When, if ever, will production of oil in Malvernia
outstrip production of natural gas?

聽(B) Is
Malvernia among the countries that rely most on imported oil?

(C) What proportion of Malvernia鈥檚 total energy needs
is met by hydroelectric, solar, and nuclear power?

(D) Is the amount of oil used each year in Malvernia
for generating electricity and fuel for transportation increasing?

聽(E) Have any
existing oil-burning heating systems in Malvernia already been converted to
natural-gas-burning heating systems?鈥

The conclusion to this argument is, 鈥淢alvernian
reliance on foreign sources for fuel is likely to decline soon,鈥 and the
evidence is that Malvernia has plenty of natural gas and will be using natural
gas for heating. Additionally, Malvernia is increasing oil production.

The correct answer to this question is the one that,
when answered one way, will strengthen the argument and, when answered the
other way, will weaken it. That answer choice is D, 鈥淚s the amount of oil used
each year in Malvernia for generating electricity and fuel for transportation
increasing?鈥

If the answer is 鈥渘o,鈥 the conclusion is definitely
strengthened. With more domestic oil production and with natural gas used for
heat, if the oil used for electricity and transportation is not increasing,
Malvernia鈥檚 reliance on foreign sources of fuel is likely to decrease. And if
the answer is 鈥測es,鈥 more oil will be required in the future, and even with
more domestic oil production, it is unlikely that the reliance on foreign oil
will decrease. This is the answer that is balanced between strengthening and
weakening. None of the other answer choices asks questions that could either
strengthen or weaken the conclusion.

If you want to master 鈥渆valuate鈥 questions and
maximize your critical reasoning score, look for that answer choice that does
not strengthen or weaken but is balanced between the two.

VI) Finding flaw
examples.

1. if true type
question- not hypothetical

2. Attack the assumptions.

3. Look at
statistics

 

Q6)

A city plans to
attract new citizens with new housing and new facilities such as parks,
recreation centers and libraries. One component of the city鈥檚 plans is to
require that development seeking permission is to build this new housing to
provide these additional facilities at no cost to the city.

 

Which of the
following, if true, would point to a possible flaw in the city鈥檚 plan?

(A) Developers would pass along their costs to the
buyer; thereby raising the cost of housing units beyond the ability of likely
purchasers to afford them.

(B) Light, nonpolluting industries have located in the
area, offering more jobs and better-paying jobs than do the more established
industries in the area.

(C) Other towns and cities nearby have yet to embark
on comparable plans to attract new citizens

(D) Most developers see the extra expense of providing
municipal facilities as simply one of the many costs of doing business.

(E) Studies show that purchasers of new houses,
especially first-time buyers, rank recreational resources as an important
factor in deciding to buy a particular house.

A. weakening and flaw. Talks about the price. ( OA )

B. No weakening or flaw

C. Irrelevant

D. No weakening or flaw

E. No weakening .

 

VII) Inferences
examples

1. Information not
given directly.

2.. Don鈥檛 go on
randomly guessing

3. Must be 100%
true

4. Reader鈥檚 point
of view given impetus.

5. Eliminate
options out of scope.

 

Q7)

Although Locke has
been hailed as a giant figure in European intellectual history, his ideas were
largely borrowed from his predecessors, who are now unfairly neglected by
historians. Furthermore, Locke never wrote a truly great book; his most widely
known works are muddy in style, awkwardly constructed, and often
self-contradictory.

With which of the
following would the author most likely agree?

 

A. Locke made use of ideas without acknowledging his
predecessors as the sources of those ideas.

B. Current historians are re-evaluating the work of
Locke in the light of present-day knowledge.

C. Locke鈥檚 contributions to the development of
European thought have been greatly exaggerated.

D. Historians should reexamine Locke鈥檚 place in
European intellectual history.

E.Although Locke鈥檚 ideas were important, his way of
expressing them in writing was sadly inadequate.

Explanation: The author makes two assertions about
Locke: that his ideas were not original and that his books were not very good.
On the basis of these assertions, the author concludes that Locke鈥檚 reputation
as an intellectual giant is undeserved. Choice (C) accurately summarizes this
conclusion.

focuses on a subsidiary point, not the main idea;
moreover, it makes an assumption unsupported by the passage namely, that Locke
did not acknowledge the sources of his ideas.

Is wrong because although the passage clearly
indicates that the author is 鈥渞e-evaluating鈥 Locke鈥檚 work, it does
not suggest that 鈥渃urrent historians鈥 in general are doing so.

This choice best expresses the point, that Locke鈥檚
contributions were not original.

Is tricky because it is a good answer, but it is not
the best answer. (D) implies that the author recommends that other historians
re-examine Locke. Since no recommendation exists in the argument, Choice (C) is
the only option.

Not addressed.

VIII) Completion
type examples

 

Remember these
words when you are solving such question:-

1. assertation

2. prediction

3. total clarity.

4. recognise the
pattern. maintain the flow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q8)

Davison River
farmers are currently deciding between planting winter wheat this fall or
spring wheat next spring. Winter wheat and spring wheat are usually about
equally profitable. Because of new government restrictions on the use of
Davison River water for irrigation, per acre yields for winter wheat, though
not for spring wheat, would be much lower than average. Therefore, planting
spring wheat will be more profitable than planting winter wheat, since鈥椻椻椻椻椻.

A. the
smaller-than-average size of a winter wheat harvest this year would not be
compensated for by higher winter wheat prices

B.聽 new crops of
spring wheat must be planted earlier than the time at which standing crops of
winter wheat are ready to be harvested

C.聽 the spring
wheat that farmers in the Davison River region plant is well adapted to the
soil of the region

D. spring wheat
has uses that are different from those of winter wheat

E.聽 planting
spring wheat is more profitable than planting certain other crops, such as rye

A. the smaller-than-average size of a winter wheat
harvest this year would not be compensated for by higher winter wheat prices

If size of the winter harvest would not be compensated
by the winter wheat prices, then farmers would incur losses. Hence the answer.

B. new crops of spring wheat must be planted earlier
than the time at which standing crops of winter wheat are ready to be harvested

The choice is not explaining why planting spring wheat
is more profitable than planting winter wheat. Hence the choice is incorrect.

C. the spring wheat that farmers in the Davison River
region plant is well adapted to the soil of the region

-out of scope

D. spring wheat has uses that are different from those
of winter wheat

-out of scope

E. planting spring wheat is more profitable than
planting certain other crops, such as rye

About the author 鈥 in his own words:

I am in my last year of my college life. To be
precise a semester away from graduating in BBA(H). I am a voracious reader and
an avid sports fan. 馃榿 Cricket is my passion and I never say no when it comes to
devouring a book. :3 And yes how can I forget? I love food! Oh yes, All types of
food!! I love to write poems and take integral part in quizzing, debating and
other extracurricular activities. Music is something I adore but if I start to
sing, I will get rotten eggs or tomatoes for free. 馃榿 ROFL!

Oh no need to mention this but still, I am an average ,
mediocre guy pursuing his IIM dreams like all of you out there.

Image Credit:聽https://www.flickr.com/photos/familymwr/4929686797

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