Logical Reasoning

Each logical reasoning question requires you to analyze an argument presented in a short passage. Often you are asked either to find a conclusion that is a logical consequence of the passage, or to choose a statement that, if true, strengthen or weakens the argument.

Each logical reasoning question requires you to read and comprehend a short passage then answer one or more questions about it. The questions test a variety of abilities involved in reasoning logically and thinking critically.

Question Format

Logical reasoning questions are based upon a passage called argument. You have to analyze the argument presented in the passage. The passage is followed by one or more questions related to it. The questions always aim at your ability to understand the conclusion reached by the author of the passage, and to give argument and contra arguments.

For each logical reasoning question, the argument is followed by a multi choice question(s). The choices are simple statements. Mostly the question statement begins with the phrase "which of the following statements". Here are a few examples:

  • Which of the following statements is an assumption on which the conclusion of this argument is based?
  • Which of the following statements identifies a flaw in the reasoning of this argument?
  • Which of the following statements can be most reasonably inferred, from the statements in the given passage?
  • Which of the following statements, if true, would most seriously, weaken the argument offered?
  • Which of the following statements, if true, would strengthen the conclusion in the preceding argument?
  • Which of the following statements would be the most important to know to evaluate the argument given in the preceding paragraph?

How to Attempt

  • While attempting logical reasoning questions, you should read the question statement before reading the argument. Then you should analyze the argument presented in the passage. You must know what aspect of the argument you are to concentrate on, and focus on it. By this, you will not be unnecessarily wasting your time.
  • You must be able to spot the question type by reading the question statement. If you do this, you will be better able to approach the argument in hand. The following 6 categories are those which most commonly occur:
    1. Assumption: Questions that test your ability to organize the premises on which an argument is based, often take the following forms:
      • The conclusion above depends on which of the following assumptions?
      • The author of the passage above makes which of the following assumptions?
      • In the passage above, the author assumes which of the following statement to be true?
    2. Inference: Questions, which test your ability to go beyond the author's explicit statements and see what these statements imply, may be worded like these:
      • It can be inferred from the passage above that the author believes that ...
      • Which of the following is implied by the passage above?
      • From the information above, which of the following is the most reasonable inference?
    3. Conclusion: Questions that test your ability to determine what claim can logically be made on the basis of evidence in the passage above?
      • If the statements above are true, which of the following is a conclusion that can be properly drawn?
      • The statements in the passage, if true, best support which of the following conclusions?
    4. Central Point: Question that test your ability to understand the thrust of an argument.
      • The statement cited above conveys which of the following propositions?
      • The author of the passage above argues that ...
      • Which of the following expresses the point the author of the passage above makes?
    5. Support: Questions that test your ability to recognize wheather an assertion supports or undermines an argument.
      • Which of the following, if true, best supports the author's conclusion?
      • Which of the following, if true, most weakens the author's conclusion?
    6. Argument Evaluation: Questions that test your ability to judge an argument.
      • Which of the following identifies a flaw in the speaker's reasoning?
      • Which of the following would be most important to know when evaluating the accuracy of the argument above?
  • Do not try to skim the passage, read each argument carefully. It is not enough to have a general idea about the argument; you must be able to analyze it very carefully.
  • You must find the conclusion of the argument, which the author claims to have reached. That most common situations are as follows:
    • The conclusion is the last sentence of the passage, often starting by words such as so, therefore, hence, consequently etc.
    • The conclusion is the first sentence of the passage followed by the supporting evidence.
    • Occasionally, the conclusion is not present in the passage; in this case, the question asks you to identify the conclusion.
  • Pay particular attention to signal words such as accordingly, for this reason, hence, although, but, except, in contrast, nevertheless, unlike etc.
  • Eliminating the choices is always the best strategy if you do not know what the correct answer is. This process will eliminate some obvious wrong choices. And you will be able to make an educated guess from the remaining ones.
  • Every argument is based upon certain assumptions made by the author. If an argument's basic premises are sound, the argument is strengthened. If an argument's basic premises are flawed, the argument is weakened. In support questions, where you have to decide about weakening or strengthening the question, pinpoint what the argument assumes. Then compare that assumption with the answer choices. If the question asks you to find the choice, which most strengthens the argument, look for the choice that is most in keeping with the argument's basic assumption. If the question asks you to choose the choice that most weakens the argument, look for the answer that casts the most doubt on that assumption.
  • Some logical reasoning questions are essentially mini analytical reasoning questions, be familiar with all of the important logical facts and apply whenever needed.

Suggested Approach

  • Read each question carefully. Make sure that you understand the meaning of each part of the question.
  • Read every answer choice. Make sure that you you understand the meaning of each answer choice and the ways in which it may or may not relate to the question posed.
  • Do not pick a response simply because it is a true statement. Although true, it may not answer the question.
  • Answer each question on the basis of the information that is given, even if you do not agree with it.
  • Work within the context provided by the passage.

Question

A study at Institute of Public Health has shown that there are still millions of people who are unaware that they endanger their health by over eating. This is so, despite government campaigns to warn people of the dangers of over eating. Reluctantly, one has to draw the conclusion that the mandatory warnings that nutrition companies are required to print have had no effect.

Which of the following, if true, would refute the argument in the passage?

  1. Many people who continue to eat more are aware of the dangers of over eating.
  2. Some people eat more food for legitimate reasons.
  3. Government has had to force companies to warn potential customers of the dangers of over use of their products.
  4. Some people who are aware of the dangers of over eating were made aware of them by the mandatory warnings.
  5. Over eating is clearly responsible for a substantial proportion of preventable illness in the country.

Explanation:

The argument in this question concludes "the mandatory warnings that nutrition companies are required to print have had no effect"

It holds that the warnings have had no effect because "there are still millions of people who are unaware" that their over eating endangers their health. In order to refute the argument it is sufficient to present evidence of two things:

  • That there are some people who are aware of the dangers of over eating and
  • That these people are aware because of the mandatory warnings.

(A) is incorrect because it includes only the first part of the refutation described above. This is an attempt to refute the author's argument.
(B) is incorrect because the author's argument does not deal with the reasons people over eat.
(C) is incorrect because the fact that "government has had to force companies to warn ... of the dangers" is irrelevant to the issue of warnings and awareness.
(D) is the correct answer because it presents the true evidence.
(E) is incorrect because it merely elaborates a minor detail in the passage.


Question Format
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Suggested Approach
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