Critical reasoning is an important part of the CLAT Logical Reasoning syllabus. Although it is true that CLAT does not have a fixed syllabus but a review of the past years’ papers display the level of importance given to the Critical Reasoning questions.
At the onset you should be clear that critical reasoning does not ask for you to criticize the works of others in the way you would have seen in newspapers and television shows.
The purpose of critical reasoning is to test your ability to critically analyze the qualitative data that you are presented with.
This data may be either in the form of a set of statements or a short passage. Both these forms of data essentially form arguments which are integral to the study of logic.
It is important that you realize that critical reasoning is not just about reading a comprehension passage and understanding its content and structure.
Critical reasoning questions go a step further and ask you to extrapolate the data that you gather from the arguments presented before you and use them in various manners. You may be asked to cull out rules from the arguments and apply the same logic to a different situation.
Modification of a given argument is also a popular choice among paper setters.
Two main things tested in these types of your question are i) your capability in understanding the implications and nuances of an argument and ii) the consistency in your logic and train of thought. In order to fair well while attempting these questions keep in mind the following rules!
- You have to be focused and neutral while attempting these questions.
- There is no space for your own assumptions.
- Your aim should always be to understand the happenings inside the mind of the author.
- Focus only on the data provided in the argument and avoid the use of any other notions you may personally hold.
- Analyse each segment of the argument carefully. Do not make decisions by reviewing only one segment of an argument.
- Never distort the argument to fit the answer you think should be correct.
- Always be clear about why you are choosing a particular answer. Do not resort to guess work.
- Select the most appropriate answer if you come across several answers which you think are possibly correct answers.
A good amount of practice will make you adept in answering these questions but first you need to know what type of questions you might face. In general there are certain types of questions that are commonly found in law entrance exams.
- Assumption questions: In this type of questions you are required to determine the underlying principle which facilitates the making of a logically consistent argument.
- Flaw questions: You are required to analyze the connection between the various segments of an argument and determine the logical fallacy that lies in any of them. The error which causes inaccuracy in the logic of the argument is what you should be on the lookout for.
- Strengthening questions: There are two segments to these questions. You have to identify the main idea behind the argument being presented. Following that you have to choose the statement which best supports the idea of the argument.
- Weakening questions: As with strengthening questions you have to find out the main idea behind the argument. Following that you have to look for statements which would reduce the convincing power of the argument by presenting a new point which attacks the line of thought being followed in the argument.
- Inference questions: This tests your ability to evaluate the arguments and derive a conclusion based on the premises that form a part of the argument. You need to deduce a conclusion which reasonably flows from the argument provided. The statement should be reasonably connected to the argument taking the premises to be true and logically sound.
- Paradox questions: The argument presented to you in these questions contains a contradiction between the facts provided. Considering both the facts to be true you will find that there is a conflict between the two. Your job is to use a statement to reconcile the discrepancy found in the argument.
- Parallel reasoning questions: The purpose of this type of question is to check your ability to interpret the logic of the argument that you are presented with. You are asked to choose one such argument which follows the same or similar type of logic as the original argument from a range of other arguments. While attempting these questions you must always remember that the focus is on the logical form of the argument and not the content.
- Principle questions: These questions ask you to place the argument under a broader rule or principle. You need to identify which school of thought the argument best endorses when presented with such questions.
- Point at issue questions: An argument and counterargument will be presented to you and you are expected to utilize the data provided to correctly identify the point of contention between the two individuals.
- Method of argument questions: You are asked to identify the technique that the author has used to convey his reasoning to the readers. You are not required to judge the effectiveness of the strategy that the author has employed to establish his argument. You have to simply point out the specific approach that the author has followed.