Critical Reasoning

In this post, I will cover Critical Reasoning concepts and strategies. The good thing with Critical Reasoning is that unlike sentence correction or reading comprehension, one really doesn’t need mastery over English grammar structures or vocabulary to answer questions. You need to understand the situation objectively and figure out the answer logically.

  1. Read the question carefully and understand the premise.
  2. Eliminate options that offer unnecessary/tangential data.
  3. Eliminate options that contradict the data.
  4. Choose the option that directly addresses the cause without being an exact repetition of what’s given in the question.

Contradictions do not existWhenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premisesYou will find that one of them is wrong.

Ayn Rand

Let’s look at a few questions to understand the approach. Try to solve these questions first before you check the answers.

Q.1. Three airlines IA, JA, and SA, operate on the Delhi-Mumbai route. To increase the number of seats sold. SA reduced its fares and this was emulated by IA and JA immediately. The general belief was that the volume of air travel between Delhi and Mumbai would increase as a result. Which of the following, if true, would add credence to the general belief?

(1) Increase in profitability of the three airlines.
(2) Extension of the discount scheme to other routes.
(3) A study that shows that air travelers in India are price-conscious.
(4) A study that shows that as much as 80% of air travel in India IS company-sponsored.

Approach: Option 1 talks about increase in the profitability of the airlines. However, there is no correlation with more people travelling because of this. Option 2 talks about extension of the discount scheme to other sectors. However, in the question, we are only taking about the Delhi-Mumbai sector and hence the extension to other sectors doesn’t really matter. Option 4 talks about a study showing that 80% of air travel is company sponsored. Again, this is not something which will strengthen the argument that more people will start travelling. Hence, this is incorrect. The belief is that the volume of air travel between Delhi and Mumbai would increase because of the reduction of fares. This can happen only when the air travelers in India are price-conscious and they start travelling due to the reduction of fares. Option 3 is the answer.

Q.2. Developed countries have made adequate provisions for social security for senior citizens. State insurers (as well as private ones) offer medicare and pension benefits to people who can no longer earn. In India, with the collapse of the joint family system, the traditional shelter of the elderly has disappeared. And a State faced with a financial crunch is not in a position to provide social security. So, it is advisable that the working population give serious thought to building a financial base for itself. Which one of the following, if it were to happen, weakens the conclusion drawn in the above passage the most?

(1) The investible income of the working population, as a proportion of its total income, will grow in the future.
(2) The insurance sector is underdeveloped and trends indicate that it will be extensively privatized in the future.
(3) India is on a path of development that will take it to a developed country status, with all its positive and negative implications.
(4) If the working population builds a stronger financial base, there will be a revival of the joint family system.

Approach: The passage states that the working population will need to build a financial base for itself. We need to weaken this conclusion. Option 1: The investible income may grow but then it doesn’t prove the statement that the working population will need to build a financial base. Hence this is incorrect. Option 2: Nowhere is it mentioned that the privatization of the insurance sector will make a difference. Option 3: If India is on the path of development then it will make adequate provisions for social security once it is a developed country. If this is the case, then the working population need not build a financial base for itself. Hence, this is the correct option. Option 4: The first part of the option goes against weakening the conclusion. It, in fact, strengthens it.

Q.3. Cigarettes constitute a mere 20% of tobacco consumption in India, and fewer than 15% of the 200 million tobacco users consume cigarettes. Yet these 15% contribute nearly 90% of the tax revenues to the Exchequer from the tobacco sector. The punitive cigarette taxation regime has kept the tax base narrow and reducing taxes will expand this base. Which one of the following best bolsters the conclusion that reducing duties will expand the tax base?

(1) The cigarette manufacturers’ association has decided to indulge in aggressive promotion.
(2) There is a likelihood that tobacco consumers will shift to cigarette smoking, if cigarette prices were to reduce.
(3) The cigarette manufacturers are lobbying for a reduction on duties.
(4) An increase in duties on non-cigarette tobacco may lead to a shift in favor of cigarette smoking.

Approach: We need to strengthen the argument that reducing duties will expand the tax base. Option 1: In this option, we are not even talking about the reduction of duties. Option 2: This option states that if the duties reduce then more tobacco consumers will shift to cigarettes. This will increase the tax base. Hence, this is correct. Option 3: This only talks about one part of the argument (reduction of duties) while ignoring the part linking expansion of the tax base. Hence, this is incorrect. Option 4: This option talks about increase in duties whereas the premise is on reduction of duties. Hence, this is incorrect.

Q.4. Animals in general are shrewd in proportion as they cultivate society. Elephants and beavers show the greatest signs of this sagacity when they are together in large numbers, but when man invades their communities they lose all their spirit of industry. Among insects, the labours of the bee and the ant have attracted the attention and admiration of naturalists, but all their sagacity seems to be lost upon separation and a single bee or ant seems destitute of every degree of industry. It becomes the most stupid insect imaginable, and it languishes and soon dies. Which of the following can be inferred from the above passage?

(1) Humankind is responsible for the destruction of the natural habitat of animals and insects.
(2) Animals in general, are unable to function effectively outside their normal social environment.
(3) Naturalists have great admiration for bees and ants, despite their lack of industry upon separation.
(4) Elephants and beavers are smarter than bees and ants in the presence of human beings.

Approach: Option 1: This is true only for the first part of the passage. The second part (bees,ants) does not talk about this. Hence, this is not correct. Option 2: Both the examples clearly indicate that once the animals/insects are out of their normal environment, they are unable to function effectively. Hence, this is correct. Option 3: This point is irrelevant and cannot be inferred from the passage. Option 4: Nowhere is the comparison made between ‘elephants and beavers’ and ‘bees and ants’.

Q.5. The company encourages its managers to interact regularly, without a pre-set agenda, to discuss issues concerning the company and society. This idea has been borrowed from the ancient Indian concept of religious congregation, called satsang. Designations are forgotten during these meetings; hence, it is not uncommon in these meetings to find a sales engineer questioning the CEO on some corporate policy or his knowledge of customers. Based on the information provided in the above passage, it can be inferred that

(1) The company is concerned about its reputation with its employees.
(2) The company believes in fostering the spirit of dialogue without degenerating it into a positioning based debate.
(3) the company had some inter-personnel problems in the past due to which it felt the need for these corporate satsangs.
(4) All of these

Approach: Option 1: This option talks about the company being concerned about its reputation. However, we are not given any idea about the company having a problem with its reputation. Hence, this is incorrect. Option 2: It is clearly mentioned that in the meetings, designations are forgotten. Hence, this option is correct. Option 3: Again, nowhere is it mentioned that the company had any inter-personal problems. Hence, this option is incorrect.

Q.6. From Cochin to Shimla, the new culture vultures are tearing down acres of India’s architectural treasures. Ancestral owners are often fobbed off with a few hundred rupees for an exquisitely carved door or window, which fetches fifty times that much from foreign dealers, and yet more from the drawing room sophisticates of Europe and the US. The reason for such shameless rape of the Indian architectural wealth can perhaps, not wrongly, be attributed to the unfortunate blend of activist disunity and the local indifference. It can be inferred from the above passage that

(1) The environment created by the meeting between activist disunity and local indifference is ideal for antique dealers to strive in India.
(2) Only Indians are not proud of their cultural heritage and are hungry for the foreign currency that is easily available in return of artifacts.
(3) Most Indian families have heirlooms which can be sold at high prices to Europeans and Americans.
(4) India provides a rich market for unscrupulous antique dealers.

Approach: Option 1: The last line states activist disunity and local indifference as reasons for the rape of Indian architectural wealth. Hence, the environment created by this is ideal for antique dealers to strive in India. Hence, this is the correct option. Option 2: The passage is not comparing Indians with other nationalities. Hence, this option is incorrect. Option 3: The word ‘most’ is the problem in this option. We do not know whether most have heirlooms or whether only a few do. Hence, this option is incorrect. Option 4: This is clearly mentioned in the passage and hence is not an inference.

Bottom line: Focus on elimination. Most of the times, you will be left with two close options. The real test of skill is which one you finally eliminate or choose. Another thing that might help to get better at CR is evaluating any argument by asking relevant questions. CR is pretty technical by nature and you need to weigh each option carefully. As they say, find the signal in the noise that’s presented to you.

The signal is the truth. The noise is what distracts us from the truth.

Nate Silver

Hope these posts are helping you. The next post will discuss the plan for the last 30 days and hope will add more value to your preparation. Do let me know if you want me to cover a specific question type in depth and I’ll try to do it in my future posts.

If there are any queries, please leave them in the comments below and allow me a few days to get back. Share this with your friends and co-aspirants. Happy prepping! 🙂

8 thoughts on “Critical Reasoning

    1. PS

      Hi Jayesh. I couldn’t cover it in the form of a post. But the basic thing for grammar is doing all the rules that have appeared in all the SimCETs. That should be enough as there are rules that are frequently tested on the competitive tests. Whether it’s parallelism or subject verb agreement. Go through all these questions and you should be fine!


    1. PS

      Hi! Couldn’t write a dedicated post on verbal. Looking at the CET level of difficulty, it makes sense to attempt the entire VARC section in about 40-45 minutes. Students tend to skip RCs but RCs still have a better return than long LR arrangement questions. If you know your grammar rules and good at RCs, you should be sorted.


    1. PS

      Hi Sagar. It’s mostly because of your time distribution. Check if you’re spending disproportionate time somewhere. The other reason could be your question selection. If you’re selecting more time consuming questions, you will not have enough time left for other sections. Analyze your mocks and figure out the causes.


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