Parallel reasoning questions
Parallel Reasoning questions started coming in CET since 2012. There was one question in 2012 and 2 in 2014 based on Parallel Reasoning. This topic is not known to most of the students as this is fairly new topic in CET.
Parallel Reasoning questions ask you to identify the answer choice that contains reasoning most similar in structure to the reasoning in the stimulus. Since this task requires you to first identify the method of argumentation used by the author and then to match that reasoning to the reasoning presented in each answer choice, these questions can be quite time consuming.
Like Method of Reasoning and Flaw in the Reasoning questions, Parallel Reasoning questions are in the First Family and have the same information structure. However, because of the abstract nature of these questions, comparing the stimulus to the answer choices takes on a different dimension, and we will address this issue in a moment in the section entitled Solving Parallel Reasoning Questions.
Question stem examples:
“Which one of the following is most closely parallel in its reasoning to the reasoning in the argument above?”
“Which one of the following exhibits a pattern of reasoning most similar to that exhibited by the argument above?”
“Which one of the following arguments is most similar in its logical features to the argument above?”
“Which one of the following arguments is most similar in its pattern of reasoning to the argument above?”
“The structure of the reasoning in the argument above is most parallel to that in which one of the following?”
In Parallel Reasoning questions you are given an argument and asked to identify the answer choice that most closely parallels the argument. This means the two arguments will have the same structure but different concepts and ideas discussed in them. A very simple example is the following:
Argument: All sharks have fins and all dolphins have fins therefore they are similar.
(A) Sharks and dolphins are similar, however, they have many differences.
(B) All sharks have teeth, dolphins are similar to sharks therefore they must have teeth.
(C) Bats and eagles must be similar because every bat has wings and so does every eagle.
(D) All dogs have eyes and all cats have eyes.
(E) Some rats have fur and all mammals have fur, therefore, rats are mammals.
Which is the correct answer choice? In order to solve parallel reasoning questions you can ignore the specifics and look only to the general structure. So ignore the terms like dolphins, fins, sharks, rats and bats. Break it down to a basic structure and then look for the same in the answer choices.
The structure of the argument “All sharks have fins and all dolphins have fins therefore they are similar.” can be broken down as follows:
ALL of entity X have attribute Y and ALL of entity Z have attribute Y. Therefore X and Z are similar.
You can also break it down into a numbered list of elements that must be included in the parallel argument:
1. ALL of entity X have attribute Y
2. ALL of entity Z have attribute Y
3. Therefore X and Z are similar
If not all of these elements are present in the answer choice then it cannot be right.
Look for this same structure in the answers.
(A) This answer says they two entities are similar but have differences. It does not include the fact that they share some attribute.
(B) Does not give us the premise that both entities share the same trait. It is instead used as a conclusion based on the premise that the two entities are similar.
(C) This is the correct answer choice. It used different specifics, bats, eagles and wings instead of dolphins, sharks and fins, however, it has the same basic structure. You have two entities that share the same trait and therefore must be similar. Note that they do change the order of the argument, this is okay as long as the required elements are present.
Element 3: Bats and eagles must be similar because
Element 1: every bat has wings
Element 2: and so does every eagle.
(D)This is missing our third element: Therefore X and Z are similar
(E) There are a number of differences here including that not all the given entities are said to have the given flaw, only some. To be parallel in reasoning we must have all entities with the given trait.
A good way to approach Parallel Reasoning questions is the quickly write down a list of the required elements as we did above. Do this in short hand and be quick. Then check each answer choice to see if it has all the required elements.