Verbal Ability – Tips for Critical Reasoning

In this article, we explore how to deal with ‘identify the correct inference/conclusion’ questions.

An inference is a conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning. You might be surprised to read this: an inference is effectively a conclusion itself.

Let’s take an example to understand what we are talking about.

Sample Argument: A and B are 16 year olds and in the class, only children who are 16 or older are allowed to be the class monitor.

Identify the correct inference from the following options:

1. No one other than A and B can be the class monitor.

2. There is no one else in the class other than A and B who can be the class monitor.

3. A and B will be the class monitors.

4. A and B are also allowed to be the class monitors.

The correct answer in this case is option 4.

Options 1 and 2 are incorrect as there can be other students who are above 16 and can be the monitor. Option 3 is incorrect as there is no guarantee that A and B will be the class monitors. From this, we can derive that A and B are allowed to be class monitors but it is not certain they will be the only ones.

Remember: in an inference or conclusion question, there is no scope for a possibility to be an answer.

The correct answer MUST BE TRUE in this case. The may be true is not acceptable for these questions.

In general, in these questions, you would be given a set of facts for which you would have to provide the correct conclusion or inference.

The first thing that you have to keep in mind is that you cannot bring information from outside the given set of premises for the argument.

You have to use only the given information.

Also, remember that any statement that is inconsistent with some facts in the passage is incorrect for this question type. The conclusion/inference has to be consistent with the given facts.

Keep in mind that at times, the inference or conclusion would simply restate one or more of the premises, using synonymous language. Be on the lookout for such answer options.

This question teaches us that in order to make the right inference:

1. We have to stay within the ambit of the given information and cannot bring information from the outside.

2. Do not make unnecessary assumptions.

3. At times, the answer is a re-statement of the given facts. Technically, this is not an inference but if faced with a situation where none of the other options fit, select such an answer option.