Verbal Ability – Critical Reasoning: Basics

In this article, we will cover some essential tips for the topic of Critical Reasoning. These will help you solve the questions with ease.

Critical Reasoning is a combination of logical thinking and critical evaluation skills

The paragraph given, which is called the argument, consists of facts and a conclusion.

Facts are pieces of information provided to us that we assume to be true under all conditions. We do not question facts in a critical reasoning question.

The conclusion is the final result derived on the basis of the given facts. It is what facts add up to provide us.

How do you identify the conclusion and facts in an argument?

Always search for ‘what led to what’

Example: The last six months have seen a three-fold increase in the price of steel and a two-fold increase in the price of plastic. Considering these increases in price, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to afford the sedan of our choice.

The conclusion is that it is highly unlikely that we will be able to afford the sedan of our choice.

Why is this so? The answer for this question is: The last six months have seen a three-fold increase in the price of steel and a two-fold increase in the price of plastic. This is our fact.

Remember, facts answer the question ‘why’. This is one easy way to identify them.

We will now deal with the most important component of Critical Reasoning: Assumptions.

Technically, assumptions are defined as the unstated parts of the argument that combine with the facts and help us reach the conclusion. Effectively, assumptions act as unstated facts in an argument and are necessary for the argument to be true.

Sample argument: Jack is less than 5’8” tall. Therefore, he cannot join the army.

The assumption is: To be in the army, one has to be at least 5’8” tall.

This ‘gap-filler’ is what the assumption is in the given case.

Remember, an argument can have any number of assumptions. All these assumptions have to do is provide a link between the facts and the conclusion.

We will see a few more assumption types now

Assumption Type: Premise Supporters

In this type, the assumption acts as a supporting statement for the premise and ensures its feasibility.

Example: Rick’s aim is to make sure his agency has the highest retail sales of motorcycles in the region will be achieved for sure. For this, he has decided to buy out his two rivals and boost his own sales.

The argument above assumes that it is possible for Rick to buy out his two rivals.

Assumption Type: Cause and Effect

Sample Argument: People who eat a lot of fruit are healthier than other people. Thus, eating fruit must cause a person to be healthy.

Seemingly, the above argument is a valid one and seems to have the right assumption. But if you give it a re-think, there is another possibility here: What if healthier people eat a lot more fruit because they are healthy (may be because of some other cause, like exercise?

In the given argument, the author had assumed:

1. Being healthier did not cause one to eat greater amount of food.

2. There is not another cause (like exercise) which leads to both the given results.

Thus, a simple cause and effect relationship has in fact two underlying assumptions that you might miss if you do not pay close attention.