- Number Puzzle
- Numeric Puzzle
You can think of critical reasoning questions as, essentially, mini reading comprehension questions. These questions tend to follow passages that are one paragraph in length. These questions primarily test the analytical and critical thinking skills that admissions committees so badly want to see in their applicants.
A college course in logic may help you with these questions, but it is certainly not a necessity. Many individuals who never took logic as undergrads have scored 750 or higher on the CAT. With some preparation, you too can learn to think logically and ace these CAT questions.
A nice added benefit to preparing yourself for critical reasoning CAT CAT questions is that this preparation will also help you in your business school studies. Many of the same techniques used to answer these test questions will come in handy when you are asked to do case analyses. (This should be an extra incentive for those of you intent on pursuing consulting careers.)
Types of Critical Reasoning Questions
Critical reasoning questions will ask you to:
- Strengthen an argument.
- Weaken an argument.
- Identify a parallel argument.
- Identify the assumption.
- Identify the inference.
- Select the best conclusion.
Our Preferred Approach to Critical Reasoning Questions
- Read the question before reading the passage. Know what you should be looking for before you begin reading the passage. You will want to approach the same passage a little bit differently, depending on whether you are asked to destroy an argument, or to find the best conclusion to the passage. Also – and we feel we can not say this enough – read the questions carefully. The test makers will deliberately include answer choices that give 'right' answers to wrong questions.
- Identify the passage's assumptions and conclusion. This can be tricky. CAT passages do not always present their conclusions in their final sentences. Sometimes they imply, rather than state, their conclusions. This is a great illustration of where our general tip of "practice, practice, practice" will come in handy. Look for these patterns:
A paragraph may start off with its conclusion in the first sentence, and then give several sentences to support that conclusion. This means you will not be able to look for transition words such as "consequently", "hence", and "as a result" that are commonly used to indicate the conclusion.
An assumption is the passage's "must have." In other words, if the assumption is not true, it follows that the conclusion is not true. We have a simple method for identifying assumptions. Read each sentence in the passage individually, and then ask yourself if the conclusion would still be true if this one sentence was incorrect.
- Try to guess the correct answer before you even read the answer choices. Often your hunch will be correct. This will help you focus on selecting the best answer.
- Read every answer choice. Don't settle for choosing the first one that seems right to you. You may find another answer choice that is even better than the one you initially selected. Eliminate the ones you know are wrong. Carefully analyze the remaining choices with a focus on identifying the one that presents the most relevant arguments and raises the most relevant issues.
Critical Reasoning Tips and Strategies
The most common type of critical reasoning question asks you to weaken an argument. The CAT testers expect you to be able to identify one of the following 4 logic flaws: