Education and Careers

7 Best Approaches to Solve Critical Reasoning Questions in CAT

In the daily grind of securing a seat in one of the most eminent IIMs and renowned B Schools, the preparation of CAT 2018 has already begun in full swing. The Common Admission Test scheduled to take place in the last week of November every year is one of the most sought-after exam for any MBA aspirant however, the Critical Reasoning section of the same is one of the most feared and challenging.

With approximately 32 total questions in previous year’s exam, the section poses questions of utmost difficulty. And, this is quite evident via previous year’s analysis. In 2015 and 2016, the Logical Reasoning section of CAT was moderately difficult while in 2017, it was the most demanding of all. However, the difficulty level seems to be all the more increasing with every passing year. 

Therefore, to help you, we have mentioned below logical reasoning preparation strategies for CAT. However, before that one must be aware about the critical reasoning argument which is usually structured into facts and conclusion must be very well identified in parts. As one delves deeper into logical reasoning preparation strategies for CAT, one must have knowledge regarding the types of critical reasoning questions and tricks to simplify matter. Have a look below.

Types of Critical Reasoning Questions

Critical reasoning questions can be broadly divided into four categories which have been mentioned below alongside the ways for solving them.

Identify the assumption

These types of questions require the candidate to derive the assumption based on the provided statements of Fact and Conclusion. The most valid assumption will be the correct answer. Remember, the assumption should only be pulled from the context of the provided statements, even if the statements are not true in real life. Within the confines of a question the Fact and Conclusion statements have to be treated as the only things that are true.

Strengthen the argument

These types of questions require you to choose a statement that adds to the assumption or is in favour of the fact and conclusion pair. As stated previously, only the statements provided in the fact and conclusion are true, and that is the only context that needs to be considered to answer the question.

Weaken the argument

This is the opposite of the above mentioned type, in that the question needs the candidate to search for a statement which discredits the Fact and Conclusion pair. Once again it is important to state that only the statements provided in the fact and conclusion are to be considered true, regardless of what they mean outside the confines of question.

Miscellaneous question types

These types of questions further comprise the following subtypes:

  • Inference/Conclusion
  • Structure of the argument
  • Paradox
  • Evaluate the conclusion
  • Complete the argument

Although every individual requires his/her unique methods of solving, the fundamental principle to solve them remains the same. The first and foremost thing required is to identify the premises, conclusions, arguments and assumptions. It is therefore of utmost importance that you understand the definitions and identifiers for all these concepts.

Tips and tricks for Critical Reasoning Preparation

Practice as many questions as possible

The best way to understand and learn something is to study and solve examples. The more you practice the better your understanding will develop. You should cover multiple questions of different categories in order to achieve the best results.

Read the question carefully

Sometimes the answer is hidden somewhere in the question itself and there is no critical thinking required. Other times the question is laced with trickery and needs to read carefully before marking the answer. Not reading the question properly can cost you time as well as marks, so be cautious.

Look for the overall flow

Arguments have a tendency to follow one of the two shapes: a triangle or an inverted triangle. This is especially true if there is a specific conclusion and then more general evidence is provided for it, or if the observations lead to a thesis. This will help you get comfortable with the question. It helps in feeling confident about the answer, which is as important as marking the correct answer.

Pick variables to describe the structure

Sometimes the options provided are very close to each other. It can be pretty confusing as to which one is the correct one. Remember, the language might look the same, but it is certainly different. Remember to only search for clues within the confines of the Fact and assumption provided in the question. If you only focus on that, the answer won’t be too hard to find. Be on the lookout for “If A, then B” relationships. Each sentence has a purpose that builds that structure.

Put the argument in your own words

Debase the complexity of the argument as you read, as if explaining to a child. The idea is to ignore the petty details that are there to distract you and see through to the author’s main point and to the evidence he provided.

Pay attention to transition words

Transition words and phrases can point out the answer quickly and effectively by identifying the logic of the argument. ‘Specifically’ means a more detailed example will follow. ‘Thus’ will lead to a summation and ‘While’ and ‘But’ mean a concession is about to be presented. Identify the premise, conclusion, and assumptions.

As mentioned above, it is of utmost importance that you establish the fact, the result, and the assumption correctly. Your first step towards acing critical reasoning questions begins by simply paying attention to the question and making a note. After establishing these three correctly, you can easily answer the question quickly. Good luck!

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