Reasoning questions ask you to describe how the argument was made, not necessarily what it says. You will compare the reasoning in two arguments or choose the answer choice that uses the most similar deductive process.
Here are some examples of the ways in which these questions are worded:
- How does the author make his point?
- A's response has which of the following relationships to B's argument?
How to approach Reasoning Questions
1. Read the argument and find the conclusion.
2. State the reasoning in your own words. Describe how the author gets from the premises to the conclusion.
3. Use POE. The best answer will describe the reasoning used in the argument. Eliminate answer choices that don't match the reasoning used in the argument.
- There is a piece of folk wisdom expressed in the saying, "If it is not broken, don't fix it." A factory manager who accepted that saying would be least likely to:
Explanation: The point of the proverb, "If it is not broken, don't fix it" is that tampering with something which is not an urgent problem is unnecessary. All of the alternatives involve the manager's making some change or taking some action. But the first four represent the manager's action as being a response to a particular existing problem. They are not against the spirit of the proverb. But preventive maintenance seems to be just what the proverb advises against. (E) is the correct answer.
- Agree to union demands, in the interest of safety, for better lighting in the stairwells and storage areas.
- Respond to the difficulty of retaining skilled electronic technicians by establishing an on-site day-care center for small children.
- Order the immediate replacement of windows broken in a strike.
- Replace the quality control supervisor after receiving several complaints about defective units in recent shipments from the factory.
- Institute a program of preventive maintenance for major pieces of production machinery.
- Despite recent rumors of a new and improved building, employees should not expect renovations.
Without the support of the building's supervisor, the committee's plan usually fails. Two years ago, a plan to renovate the meeting rooms went under after the supervisor changed his mind and withdrew his support.
The bolded phrases play which of the following roles in the argument above?
Explanation: This question asks you to identify the parts of an argument. The argument's structure is as follows: The expected outcome of a situation is presented; followed by a general rule for predicting the outcome of situations like these; followed by a specific instance of the general rule. The conclusion is in the beginning, while the argument in support of the conclusion follows after it.
- The first phrase offers advice and the second phrase states a conclusion.
- The first phrase states the conclusion and the second phrase supports that conclusion with an analogy.
- The first phrase states a conclusion and the second phrase provides evidence that weakens the conclusion.
- The first phrase states a position and the second phrase contains unrelated information.
- The first phrase states a premise on which the conclusion is based and the second phrase states the conclusion.
Looking at the answer choices, we see that only two answer choices (b and c) put the conclusion first.
Choice (A)'s description of the first phrase as an offer of advice could be correct, but as the second phrase is not the conclusion. Choice (A) is incorrect.
Choice (D) inaccurately describes the first phrase's function as stating a position.
Choice (E) describes the first phrase's function as a premise, which is incorrect.
Choices (B) and (C) are identical in their description of the first phrase as a conclusion, but differ in their descriptions of the second phrase. In choice (B), the second phrase should support the conclusion with an analogy. Is this accurate? Yes. The use of another, similar situation to illustrate the outcome of this situation constitutes an analogy, and one that supports the conclusion. Choice (C) suggests that the second phrase weakens the conclusion, which is does not. Choice (B) is the best answer.
Double Bold Critical Reasoning Questions are typically deductive arguments and demonstrate how two arguments interact.