Preparation of Critical Reasoning in CLAT

CL Team March 12 2020
3 min read
“The idea is to get better students to national law universities who have competence in reading texts and demonstrate skills in inferential reasoning. Asking students to answer 200 questions in 120 minutes is not right as it puts students under a lot of mental stress,” said Faizan Mustafa, vice-chancellor, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. Along with this they also announced a slew of changes in scholarship programmes and infrastructure on the lines of getting students who are better at comprehension. The rumor markets stayed abuzz for a month till they released the sample paper in the second half of December and it was quite clear that there was an emphasis on passage based questions in all sections except Quantitative Aptitude. Aspirants and Trainers were surprised alike with even general knowledge questions based on paragraphs and Verbal Section asking no grammar questions I'm the sample paper. Total questions were reduced to 150 from previous 200 and total time remains the same at 2hours but the amount of reading involved has increased by a big margin and that can exhaust an aspirant. The bottom line is that the aspirants and test trainers need to change the strategy fundamentally. Career Launcher has been at the helm of these changes and almost overnight generated mocks and practice material for students at no extra cost from aspirants. In the due course of making these changes an important detail that calls for special attention is that the shift of questions is mostly towards critical reasoning style of questions asked in LSATs. So that brings us to the question 'what is critical reasoning?'. Critical Thinking is Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas. In essence, critical thinking requires you to use your ability to reason. It is about being an active learner rather than a passive recipient of information. Critical thinkers rigourously question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them at face value. They will always seek to determine whether the ideas, arguments and findings represent the entire picture and are open to finding that they do not. Critical thinkers will identify, analyse and solve problems systematically rather than by intuition or instinct. This is a highly valued skill among professions in management and law which require being factual and analytical in data analysis for clients. This is why critical reasoning questions are a big part of aptitude exams abroad and now CLAT consortium has made a move towards it. Critical reasoning questions appear in the verbal section and logical reasoning sections of the CLAT test. As many as 20-35 questions of critical reasoning and skills based on it may be asked in the exam. There are five main critical reasoning question types: Strengthen the Argument, Weaken the Argument/Find the Flaw, Inference, Draw a Conclusion, Find the Assumption, and Paradox/Discrepancy. There are some more iterations apart from these major types of questions where a paragraph is given and you have to go through a critical analysis of data which requires segregation of data into facts and opinions and application forward, backward and parallel logic for different question types. This requires intense training and practice by the students. A Critical Reasoning (CR) argument is usually structured into facts (also sometimes referred to as premises) and a conclusion. It is important that you are able to identify the parts of an argument. Your job is never to question the facts of the argument. You can question the gap between the facts and the conclusion. This gap can be called an assumption the writer makes in his/her argument. In other words, what did the writer have to believe to be true in order to reach the conclusion, as based on the premise(s)? There are many CR questions that require you to identify an assumption. It can get complex, but here are some tips to simplify matters. 1. Simplify language - You know that the shortest, simplest answer is often the best answer. It is as if the test makers take these rules they have established in life and throw them out the window when making CR questions. They write their sentences in the most confusing way possible. If you can simplify the language the test makers use, it can make your job easier. 2. Use your own words - One way to simplify the language used in a question is to express it using your own words. This involves making very short notes to summarize each of the sentences in a CR passage. The purpose of this is to make the passage easier to understand. Your own words will be easier for you to understand than the difficult words chosen by someone who is trying to confuse you! 3. Understand what is being asked - For example, let’s imagine a simple example in which the conclusion is that Rome is a pleasant city. A common question would be: “Which of the following, if true, would most strengthen the above conclusion?” Option A) There are many great art galleries in Rome. Option B) Venice has many great restaurants. Sometimes people are confused as to whether they have to consider if the options are true or not. You don’t have to do this. You can assume all the options are true. You don’t have to ask yourself whether it is actually true that Venice has many great restaurants. It’s clear that Option A would be the right answer, because it's the only answer that actually applies to Rome. When the questions become more difficult, you can save time by remembering that it is not your job to consider whether the options are true or not when the question is worded this way.