Examples Critical Reasoning
Critical Reasoning examples for CAT and other MBA exams.
One morning, George Petersen of Petersenís Garage watches as a 1995 Da Volo station wagon is
towed onto his lot. Because he knows that nearly 90% of the 1995 Da Volo station wagons brought to
his garage for work in the past were brought in because of malfunctioning power windows, he reasons
that there is an almost 9 to 1 chance that the car he saw this morning has also been brought in to
correct its faulty power windows. Which one of the following employs flawed reasoning most
similar to that employed by George Petersen?
(1) Mayor Lieberman was reelected by a majority of almost 75%. Since Janine Davis voted in that
mayoral election, the chances are almost 3 to 1 that she voted for Mayor Lieberman.
(2) Each week nine out of 10 best-selling paperback books at The Readerís Nook are works of fiction.
Since Nashís history of World War II was among the ten best-selling paperback books at The
Readerís Nook this week, the chances are 9 to 1 that it is a work of fiction
(3) 90% of those who attempt to get into Myrmidon Military Academy are turned down. Since the
previous 10 candidates to the academy were not accepted, Vladimirís application will almost
certainly be approved.
(4) Only one out of 50 applications for bypassing zoning regulations and establishing a new business in
the Gedford residential district is accepted. Since only 12 such applications were made last month,
there is virtually no chance that any of them will be accepted.
George Petersen gives us a little lesson on how not to use statistics. He knows that 9 out of 10 Da
Volos are brought to his shop because of malfunctioning windows, so he reasons that this particular Da
Volo, which is being towed in, has probably also been brought in for malfunctioning windows. Surely
the fact that the car is being towed indicates that there must be some more serious problem. Petersen
has mindlessly applied a numerical formula while ignoring additional information. Where else do we see
such reasoning? (2), the correct answer, uses previous figures to conclude that thereís a 9 to 1
chance that Nashís history of World War II is a work of fiction. (2) ignores the compelling contrary
evidence (that this book is a history) and mindlessly applies a numerical formula where it clearly
shouldnít be applied. (1)ís use of statistics is reasonable. We donít know anything special about Janine
Davis; sheís just a voter. Therefore, since almost 3 out of 4 voters chose Lieberman, thereís an almost
3 out of 4 (or 3 to 1) chance that Janine voted for Lieberman. (3) reasons that Vladimirís chances of
being admitted into the academy have been improved by the rejection of the previous candidates.
Thatís not a persuasive line of argumentation, but itís nothing like the stimulus. (4) is a straight
numerical argument. The conclusion seems overstated (even a 1 out of 50 chance isnít ďvirtually no
chanceĒ), but itís not at all like the stimulus; weíre not shown a particular case with special information
that goes against the numbers.
It doesnít surprise me that the critic on our local radio station went off on another tirade today about
the city menís choir. This is not the first time that he has criticized the choir. But this time his criticisms
were simply inaccurate and unjustified. For ten minutes, he spoke of nothing but the choirís lack of
expressiveness. As a professional vocal instructor, I have met with these singers individually; I can
state with complete confidence that each of the members of the choir has quite an expressive voice.
Which one of the following is the most serious flaw in the authorís reasoning?
(1) He directs his argument against the criticís character rather than against his claims.
(2) He ignores evidence that the criticís remarks might in fact be justified.
(3) He cites his own professional expertise as the sole explanation for his defense of the choir.
(4) He assumes that a group will have a given attribute if each of its parts has that attribute.
The flaw in the authorís reasoning lies in his reasoning from part to whole, which is implied rather than
explicitly stated: ďEach of the singers has an expressive voice, therefore all the choir, as a group, must
be expressive and the critic must be wrong.Ē But just because each voice is expressive alone doesnít
necessarily mean that all the voices will be expressive together. (4), therefore, is correct. (1), although
the author is rather vehement in disputing the criticís claims, he doesnít address the criticís character.
Choose the option that best completes the passage given. The most serious flaw in television's
coverage of election campaigns is its tendency to focus on the horse-race side of politics-that is, to
concentrate on the question "Who's winning?" at the expense of substantive coverage of the issues and
the candidates' positions on them. The endless interviews with campaign managers, discussions of
campaign strategies, and, especially, the obsession with opinion polls have surrounded elections with
the atmosphere of a football game or a prizefight. To reform this situation, a first step might well
(1) a shortening of the length of election campaigns to a period of six weeks
(2) a stringent limit on campaign spending
(3) a reduction in the television coverage of opinion polls during election campaigns
(4) the publication and distribution of voter-education literature to inform the public about each
candidate's position on the major issues
(3) Here the author describes the problem of the televisionís coverage of election campaigns as it
introduces a sense of gambling and he compares opinion polls with the football game or a prize fight.
Now the remedy or the reformation of this situation is to reduce the television coverage of the opinion
polls, which is there in option (3). (1) and (2) distorts the theme. (4) is not in line with the solution of \