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    Critical Reasoning
  I: CR Introduction
  II: Argument Structure
  III: Reasoning Skills
  IV: Question Types
  V: Advanced Question Types
     1. Executive Decision Making  
     2. Paradox Questions  
     3. Deductive Reasoning  
     4. Style of Reasoning Questions  
  VI: Sample Questions
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V-4. Advanced Question Types: Style of Reasoning Questions (uncommon)
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Style of 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 the stems to such 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 Style of 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.


  1. 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:

    (A) Agree to union demands, in the interest of safety, for better lighting in the stairwells and storage areas.

    (B) Respond to the difficulty of retaining skilled electronic technicians by establishing an on-site day-care center for small children.

    (C) Order the immediate replacement of windows broken in a strike.

    (D) Replace the quality control supervisor after receiving several complaints about defective units in recent shipments from the factory.

    (E) Institute a program of preventive maintenance for major pieces of production machinery.

    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 best answer.

  2. 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 extracts play which of the following roles in the argument above?

    (A) The first extract offers advice and the second extract states a conclusion.

    (B) The first extract states the conclusion and the second extract supports that conclusion with an analogy.

    (C) The first extract states a conclusion and the second extract provides evidence that weakens the conclusion.

    (D) The first extract states a position and the second extract contains unrelated information.

    (E) The first extract states a premise on which the conclusion is based and the second extract states the conclusion.

    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.

    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 extract as an offer of advice could be correct, but as the second extract is not the conclusion. Choice (A) is incorrect.

    Choice (D) inaccurately describes the first extract's function as stating a position.

    Choice (E) describes the first extract's function as a premise, which is incorrect.

    Choices (B) and (C) are identical in their description of the first extract as a conclusion, but differ in their descriptions of the second extract. Choice (B) describes the second extract as an analogy supporting the conclusion. Is this accurate? Yes. The use of another, similar situation to illustrate the outcome of this situation constitutes an analogy, and it supports the conclusion. Choice (C) suggests that the second phrase weakens the conclusion, which it does not. Choice (B) is the best answer.

Double Bold Critical Reasoning Questions are typically deductive arguments and demonstrate how two arguments interact.


V-3. Deductive Reasoning

VI: Sample Questions