From the point of view of view of CAT, CR questions are important. In the exam you are provided with a hypothetical situation and the questions test you on your ability to understand and analyse the situation. The strength of your logical powers are tested.
The questions could be of any of the following type-
Inferential questions ( they are known to be nemesis even in the RCs of CAT)
Conclusion based questions
Argument impacts – Strengthening or Weakening the arguments
Summary/Theme/Main Idea/Central Point based questions
Anticipation based– paragraph completion, idea continuation etc.
Sometimes, the conclusion may not be given and the question may require you to supply the conclusion.
Understanding Critical Reasoning
A verbal statement would generally be structured in the form of an argument, premise and conclusion.
Argument: It expresses a single act of thought which gives judgement and is supported by statements. They may also be defined as set of statements where one statement (the conclusion) is derived/substantiated to follow from others (Premises).
Premise: A statement used to draw a conclusion. A quick way to identify the premise/s in the argument is to ask the question ‘Why’ on the conclusion.
Conclusion: Result which you obtain after using all your thinking caps. The same logic can be applied to find out the Conclusion as above. The statement on which you can use ‘What’ and on applying ‘what’, if another statement provides you the answer to the question, you have applied ‘what’ on the conclusion. A conclusion talks about content and a Premise talks about the rationale behind that content. Simply speaking, if you realise and observe closely;
Conclusions = necessarily define ‘WHAT’ in the argument.
For this reason
Must be that
As a result
Premises = necessarily define ‘WHY’ in the argument.
For the reason that
As indicated by
This can be seen by
The following pointers should help you whilst answering critical reasoning questions:
1. Utilize process of elimination. When a student is asked to identify the statement that does the best job of strengthening or weakening an argument, there is almost always at least one answer choice that will do the opposite. If you have read the question carefully, you will be able to quickly eliminate these choices.
2. Become comfortable at “working backwards” on these questions. “Working backwards” – inserting each answer choice into the text and seeing if the passage still makes sense – is an excellent technique to fall back on if you get stuck on a critical reasoning question. However, it can be time consuming. You may need to re-read a passage 5 times, inserting a different answer choice each time, before you find the choice that seems right to you.
3. Never choose an answer simply because it is true. The answer choice must be a logical extension of the argument made in the passage.
4. Ignore decoys. Often times, CAT passages contain extraneous sentences and information. Learn to separate these decoys from the rest of the passage so they won’t distract you from the content that is important.
5. Avoid answer choices that are emotionally charged or ‘over the top.’ The correct answer choices are always emotionally neutral in tone, and moderate in reasoning.
6. Avoid answer choices that make absolute statements. Absolute statements are those that use words such as “always” and “must.” The test writers are very biased against these types of statements. Hence, when you encounter an answer choice that makes an absolute statement, you will know that it can be safely eliminated.
A Few Examples-
Q1)Wine Company Representative: The corks of red wine bottles pose a threat to the environment because they are treated with chemicals that are especially toxic in landfills. However, the new cork that our company developed, which will be adopted by the entire red wine industry, represents a solution. Since the new cork is natural and not treated with chemicals, when the industry completes its transition to the new cork, there will no longer be any threat to landfills from red wine corks
Q1)Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument above?
The industry’s transition to the new red wine corks will take years, allowing thousands of old corks to pollute landfills.
Even after the industry’s transition to new corks, a large number of wine bottles with old corks will continue to be consumed.
The new corks take considerably longer to produce.
Production of the new cork emits more toxic fumes than were emitted in the production of the old cork.
The new corks are more expensive than the old corks.
Q2)Years ago, some in the government’s intelligence community feared the work of telecommunications researchers at then-emerging private security firms. The government experts concluded that these private firms posed the biggest risk to successful government espionage. As the private security firms began publicly releasing and advertising encryption algorithms and other security products, these government experts saw support for their conclusion when an encryption algorithm that government experts could not break began appearing in countless emails.
Which of the following, if true, most weakens the conclusion of the government experts referred to above?
Shortly before the government experts reached their conclusions, two private security companies each claimed to have developed “the world’s strongest email encryption algorithm”
The private security firms’ decision to advertise their products and sell them publicly led to other members of the private sector and academia scrutinizing the encryption algorithms.
An open-source encryption algorithm, developed by an academic and freely available from popular websites, is recognized by numerous ex-government code breakers as the most unbreakable algorithm ever developed.
An enemy government recently succeeded in placing a spy within the government espionage operations referred to above.
To strengthen the reputation of the private security firms, employees of these firms publish information about the strength of their products and the benefits of using them.
Q3)Virtually all health experts agree that second-hand smoke poses a serious health risk. After the publication of yet another research paper explicating the link between exposure to second-hand smoke and a shorter life span, some members of the State House of Representatives proposed a ban on smoking in most public places in an attempt to promote quality of life and length of lifespan.
Which of the following, if true, provides the most support for the actions of the State Representatives?
The amount of damaging chemicals and fumes released into the air by cigarette smoke is far less than the amount released from automobiles, especially from older models.
Banning smoking in most public places will not considerably reduce the percent of the population in the state in question that smokes.
The state whose legislators are proposing the tough smoking legislation has a relatively high percent of its population that smoke.
Another state that enacted a similar law a decade ago saw a statistically significant drop in lung-cancer rates among non-smokers.
A nearby state up-wind has the highest number of smokers in the country.
Q4)On a recent expedition to a remote region of northern Canada, scientists uncovered skeletal remains from about 100,000 years ago. Surprisingly, all the skeletal remains, which included many species from differing biological families and spanned about two thousand years, showed evidence of experiencing temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (or 538 degrees Celsius).
Which of the following, if true, best explains the apparent paradox between the cold environment and the evidence of the bones experiencing hot temperatures?
Other scientific research released two years before the expedition showed that the remote region of northern Canada underwent considerable warming in the past 100,000 years.
Chemical changes that naturally occur during the process of decay in only one north Canadian species produce the same evidence of the species’ skeletons being exposed to hot temperatures as the expedition scientists found.
A little over 103,000 years ago, a large fire is known to have occurred in northern Canada.
Strong evidence exists that as early as 70,000 years ago, Homo sapiens around the world relied heavily on fire to cook animals.
In the same expedition and in roughly the same layer of excavation, scientists found rudimentary wood cutting and hunting tools used by early humans.
Q5)During the past 20 years, computer scientists focused increasingly on starting and running successful businesses. However, since businesses must be profitable, computer scientists must focus on developing products that generate profit. Consequently, computer science has lost its creative aspect.
Which of the following assumptions is most necessary in order for the conclusion above to be drawn from the argument above?
All computer programs must lack creativity in order to be well received.
Some computer scientists entirely disregarded creativity and chose instead to pursue profit.
A program cannot be both creative and profitable.
Computer scientists are obsessed with the profitability of their work.
Non-profit institutions use large amounts of software.