Critical Reasoning 1

Critical Reasoning is one of my favourite areas in the verbal section of CAT. The good thing with this topic is that unlike sentence correction or even reading comprehension, you really don’t need to know English grammar structures or have a good vocabulary to crack questions. Instead, what is required is clear cold logic. Read each and every word given and understand the premise, conclusion and assumptions if any.

In this article, we will solve questions asked from this topic in previous CAT papers. Try solving these questions yourself first before looking at the answers.

Direction for Questions: Read each of the short passages and answer the questions that follow:

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 travellers in India are price-conscious.

(4) A study that shows that as much as 80% of air travel in India IS company-sponsored.

Q.2. According to McNeill, a Brahmin priest was expected to be able to recite at least one of the Vedas. The practice was essential for several centuries when the Vedas had not yet been written down. It must have had a selective effect, since priests would have been recruited from those able or willing to memorize long passages. It must have helped in the dissemination of the work, since a memorized passage can be duplicated many times.

Which one of the following can be inferred from the above passage?

(1) Reciting the Vedas was a Brahmin’s obligation

(2) The Vedic priest was like a recorded audio cassette.

(3) McNeill studied the behaviour of Brahmin priests.

(4) Vedic hymns had not been scripted.

Q.3. 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.

Q.4. 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 favour of cigarette smoking.

Q.5. Thomas Malthus, the British clergyman turned economist, predicted that the planet would not be able to support the human population for long. His explanation was that human population grows at a geometric rate, while the food supply grows only at an arithmetic rate.

Which one of the following, if true, would not undermine the thesis offered by Malthus?

(1) Population growth can be slowed down by the voluntary choices of individuals and not just by natural disasters.

(2) The capacity of the planet to feed a growing human population can be enhanced through biotechnological means.

(3). Human systems, and natural systems like food supply, follow natural laws of growth which have remained constant, and will remained unchanged.

(4). Human beings can colonies other planetary systems on a regular and on-going basis to accommodate a growing population.

 

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 travellers in India are price-conscious.

(4) A study that shows that as much as 80% of air travel in India IS company-sponsored.

Answer: The best way to answer a critical reasoning question is to eliminate options that don’t fit and then choose the best option.

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 travellers in India are price-conscious and they start travelling due to the reduction of fares. Hence option 3 is the best pick.

Option 1 talks about increase in the profitability of the airlines. However there is no correlation with more people travelling because of this. Hence, this is incorrect.

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. Hence, this is incorrect (This is the way in which exam setters set incorrect options. They add data which doesn’t really pertain to the question. Hence, it is important to read each and every word).

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.

Q.2. According to McNeill, a Brahmin priest was expected to be able to recite at least one of the Vedas. The practice was essential for several centuries when the Vedas had not yet been written down. It must have had a selective effect, since priests would have been recruited from those able or willing to memorize long passages. It must have helped in the dissemination of the work, since a memorized passage can be duplicated many times.

Which one of the following can be inferred from the above passage’?

(1) Reciting the Vedas was a Brahmin’s obligation

(2) The Vedic priest was like a recorded audio cassette.

(3) McNeill studied the behaviour of Brahmin priests.

(4) Vedic hymns had not been scripted.

Answer: An inference is something which can be derived on the basis of stated facts. Let’s check the options to find the inference from the passage.

Option 1: Clearly stated in the first line of the passage and hence not an inference.

Option 2: It has been mentioned that the priest was recruited for his ability to memorize long passages. Also, this could be duplicated many times. Hence, the priest was like a recorded audio cassette. Hence, this is an inference.

Option 3: Again, this is not an inference. The fact that he studied the behavior of Brahmin priests is apparent from the passage.

Option 4: Clearly stated in the second line of the passage and hence not an inference.

Q.3. 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.

Answer: 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. Hence, this is incorrect.

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.4. 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 favour of cigarette smoking.

Answer: 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.5. Thomas Malthus, the British clergyman turned economist, predicted that the planet would not be able to support the human population for long. His explanation was that human population grows at a geometric rate, while the food supply grows only at an arithmetic rate.

Which one of the following, if true, would not undermine the thesis offered by Malthus?

(1) Population growth can be slowed down by the voluntary choices of individuals and not just by natural disasters.

(2) The capacity of the planet to feed a growing human population can be enhanced through biotechnological means.

(3). Human systems, and natural systems like food supply, follow natural laws of growth which have remained constant, and will remained unchanged.

(4). Human beings can colonies other planetary systems on a regular and on-going basis to accommodate a growing population.

Answer: We need to find the option which does not undermine the thesis offered by Malthus.

Option 1: This undermines Malthus’ theory by stating that the population growth is not geometric in nature. Hence, this is incorrect.

Option 2: This again undermines his theory by stating that the food supply can be grown at a rate different from the arithmetic rate.

Option 3: This agrees with the argument of Malthus that the human population growth is geometric whereas the food supply growth is arithmetic and states that these will remain unchanged. Hence, this is the answer.

Option 4: This again undermines the theory that the planet would not be able to support the human population for long.

 

We will look at more examples on critical reasoning in the next article. For more verbal articles, click here.

 

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