Critical reasoning is one of the most important topics for the CAT exam. The questions test the ability of the candidates to analyse logical arguments. Critical Reasoning baffles even the most proficient aptitude takers. The passages are cryptic, the answer choices are close and confusing and one never seems to be certain of their accuracy. In fact, Critical Reasoning seems to play a significant part in bringing scores down by fetching negative marks for you.
So, here is an overview of how to approach the critical reasoning questions to help the candidates prepare this section well. However, it must be kept in mind that critical reasoning is an extensive section and therefore, extensive practice is very crucial to solving these questions easily.
Identify the Question first
As mentioned above, we will take up each question type and have devoted articles to them later. Your first step towards acing critical reasoning questions begins with the categorization of the problem. Many times the problem explicitly mentions the type in which case you are simply required to pay attention to it and make a note.
Critical reasoning questions can be categorised into the following types:
- Weaken the argument/find a flaw
- Strengthen the argument
- Find the assumption
- Structure of the argument
- Evaluate the conclusion
- Complete the argument
For the Strengthening & Weakening argument and find the assumption questions, look for a valid assumption
An assumption is an unstated premise. To be a little more specific, an assumption, like the premise, is an unquestionable fact. However, unlike the premise, it is not explicitly stated and requires reading between the lines.
To strengthen an argument, you would require finding an assumption in the passage that supports it. To weaken an argument, an assumption in the passage that either contradicts or negates the argument has to be found.
For the remaining question types, internalize them and try to put them in your words
Although one would go through each question type in detail, the fundamental principle remains the same. The first and foremost thing is to identify the premises, conclusions, arguments and assumptions. It is of utmost importance that you acquaint yourself with the definitions and identifiers for all these concepts. For example, a premise usually begins with identifiers such as-if, given that, since, because, suppose etc. Once you learn to identify and distinguish these, the solving of the rest becomes effortless.
So, these are the basic approach for critical reasoning questions. Always keep in mind that critical reasoning passages are different when compared to reading comprehension. You are required to read and pay attention to every single word. The addition or removal of a small word can change the entire meaning and implications of a sentence.
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