How to Approach a Two-Part Critical Reasoning IR Question

by on December 16th, 2012

In this article, we are going to share with you an approach for handling two-part CR (Critical Reasoning) IR questions. There is a general perception among a majority of students that such questions are better left for the test. This is because if a normal CR (Critical Reasoning) question takes around 1.5 minutes to 2 minutes, a two-part CR question should take around 3-4 minutes, which cannot be afforded in a section that gives 2.5 minutes per question.

However, it’s important to understand that the main time consuming part of a CR question is understanding the passage. Once this is done, it shouldn’t take more than 30-45 seconds to find the right answer choice. So, per the understanding and the approach that we’ll discuss in some time, you would realize that it should never take twice the time to solve a two-part CR question as compared to a normal CR question; on the contrary, the difference should rarely exceed 30-45 seconds, i.e. the time to find the additional answer statement from the options.

This article introduces the e-GMAT approach to handle such questions. To explain this approach, we will take a slightly different way than usual: rather than first explaining the approach and then using a small question example to illustrate  the same, we will take a question and do an in-depth analysis to explain the approach.

So, let’s start with the question:

The two main features of a mobile phone are its interface’s quality and the phone’s physical robustness. While interface quality is the result of a lot of creative effort and deep customer understanding, physical robustness is the outcome of high level engineering and consistent manufacturing policies. A company advertising any of these features is expected to meet the advertised standard.

Recently, Nokia, one of the renowned mobile companies, came under a law suit claiming that the interface of one of its models of phone was not as good as advertised. The company counter-argued that this law suit doesn’t hold any merit; all the company’s running advertisements are focused on the robustness of the company’s phones. The court, however, has accepted the case on initial assessment of merit.’

Indicate the statement in the table that the given information most strongly suggests is true, and the statement that the given information most strongly suggests is false. Make only two selections, one in each column.

1. The team tasked with designing interface of mobile phones at Nokia is not as good as it was thought to be.

2. Nokia had advertised about its interface standard sometime in the past.

3. Aggrieved customers are given a preference in courts.

4. Nokia will likely lose the lawsuit as the court seems to be siding with the accusers.

5. Customers cannot file lawsuits against a company on the basis of difference between advertised and actual standards if the company has stopped claiming such standards.

6. Advertisements are the only source of information to the customers about the quality of the mobile phones.

At this point, we suggest you solve the question yourself, before looking at the approach/solution given.

Understanding the question statement

Let’s start with understanding the question.

This is a question that goes slightly beyond the norms of a normal inference question. In this question, we are given a set of facts. Based on these facts, we are asked to select an answer choice that fits these facts or that these facts suggest can be true.

Similarly, the second answer choice that we need to select is one that is inconsistent with these facts, or one that these facts suggest will not be true.  Hence, to get to the right answer, let’s first see the facts of the case.

Understanding the argument

The argument talks about the two main features of a mobile phone – Interface quality and robustness, and then talks about how good interface quality and robustness are achieved.

It then says that any company that advertises these features must deliver the features as advertised. Then the author talks about a specific case of a company, Nokia, which has been accused of falsely advertising its phone interface.

Nokia has denied these claims, stating that all its current advertisements focus on phone’s robustness. A Judge who has reviewed the findings has stated that the case has merit and has accepted the case.

Pre-thinking

Contradictory facts:

  1. Lawsuit – Phone’s interface not as good as the company advertises.
  2. Nokia – no running advertisements advertise interface.
  3. Judge – the case has merit.

Pre-thinking true statements

First of all notice that there are two seemingly contradicting facts in the case: on one hand, Nokia claims that none of its running ads focus on interface quality and on the other, the court has accepted a lawsuit on initial merit, which says that Nokia’s phones do not possess an interface as good as is advertised. So, one possible true statement could be the statement that resolves this paradox.

Notice the word “running”.  This contradiction becomes clear when we focus on this word – Nokia explicitly states that its running ads don’t focus on interface quality.  This opens the possibility that in the past the company might have advertised its interface quality, on the basis of which the customer would have bought the phone and hence the lawsuit. If all the facts in the argument are true, then we will need to resolve this paradox. This can be resolved if it is true that Nokia must have advertised the interface quality sometime in the past.

Pre-thinking false statements

Here, we need to pre-think what is suggested to be false given the information in the passage.

Another way to look at this question is that we need to select a statement that negates or falsifies a fact or facts in the premise.  For example if there is a statement that Nokia has never ever advertised about its interface quality then it would falsify the court’s judgment of accepting the case on initial merit.  This is because the judge would have accepted the case on the basis of something that is not TRUE.

Likewise, if there is a statement that indicates that a customer can only file complaints related to the running ads of a company, then it would make the customer’s case without merit in our scenario since his case is not based on just the running or active ads.

PoE:

  1. The team tasked with designing interface of mobile phones at Nokia is not as good as it was thought to be – Clearly the passage doesn’t talk about the quality of interface design team. Even the lawsuit in question concerns about advertised quality vs actual quality and not quality expected from the team vs actual quality. Thus, this option is out of scope of discussion.
  2. Nokia had advertised about its interface standard sometime in the pastTrue – This is strongly suggested by the passage. This information helps us understand two seemingly contradicting facts in the question. Thus, while Nokia might not be currently advertising its interface quality, it might have done so in the past when the customer bought the phone. Since the customer bought a phone on the basis of advertised interface quality, the lawsuit may hold some merit. Thus, this is a correct answer choice.
  3. Aggrieved customers are given a preference in courts. – Clearly this is out of scope of our discussion. The passage doesn’t suggest that the customer’s case has been accepted in the court without any presence of merit.
  4. Nokia will likely lose the lawsuit as the court seems to be siding with the accusers.– Even though the court has accepted the case on initial assessment of merit, actual judgment is expected to be based on detailed arguments and information of both sides. Thus, we cannot comment on the result of the lawsuit. Thus, this is not a correct answer choice.
  5. Customers cannot file lawsuits against a company on the basis of difference between advertised and actual standards if the company has stopped claiming such standards. – False – If customers cannot file cases when companies stop claiming such standards, then in our current situation, the customer’s lawsuit must not have been accepted on initial assessment of merit. However, since the lawsuit has been accepted, it clearly suggests that this option is false. Thus, this is the second answer choice.
  6. Advertisements are the only source of information to the customers about the quality of the mobile phones. – This is not suggested to be true by the passage since the passage doesn’t talk about the sources of information to the customers. Besides, even if this option were true, it wouldn’t help us in explaining the seeming contradiction in the passage. Thus, this is an incorrect option.

Take-Aways:

1. While a two-part CR question does take longer than a typical CR question, it shouldn’t take double the amount of time.

2. The key is to follow a systematic approach: understanding the passage, pre-thinking the answer choices and eliminating the incorrect options.

Concluding remarks

In the end, we suggest that you use the above approach to as many two-part IR CR questions as you come across. This will help you in getting familiarized with the approach and result in a lot of time savings during the exam.

e-GMAT has recently launched a full-fledged course on Integrated Reasoning encompassing 15+ hours of interactive audio visual content, 35 concepts, 120+ original questions, and 2 full length Mock Tests.

Like our all other courses, this also comes with a generous free trial. You may try it for free by registering on our website.

Chiranjeev Singh

5 comments

  • So the option for FALSE, is that like a weaken argument type of question? Also I still don't understand the reasoning behind the FALSE option.

    • Well, in some way, the option for FALSE is similar to a weakener if we take the last statement of the passage as the CONCLUSION of the passage.

      However, there is nothing to suggest that the last statement is the CONCLUSION of the argument. Neither a conclusion marker has been used nor the question statement specifically refers to the last statement as the conclusion. Rather, the question stem doesn't demand any conclusion in the passage. We also know a weakener cannot exist with a conclusion; simply because the only job of the weakener is to create doubts on the conclusion.

      Therefore, in the given question (and even in other similar questions), we cannot say that option 5 is a weakener since there is no CONCLUSION in the passage.

      Now, coming to your query on the reasoning behind the FALSE option.

      The question stem asks us to find a statement that the given information most strongly suggests is false.

      What this means is that we need to find a statement which contradicts the information given in the passage. For example: If I make the following two statements

      1. Joe gave GMAT last week
      2. He will likely get his official scorecard in another 14 days.

      Now, if the option statement says that an official scorecard takes at least 2 months to arrive, then this option statement is clearly contradicting the two statements given. Therefore, such a statement should be FALSE in light of the given two statements.

      Similarly, Option 5 in the given question contradicts the below statements of the passage:

      1. Nokia, one of the renowned mobile companies, came under a law suit claiming that the interface of one of its models of phone was not as good as advertised.
      2. all the company’s running advertisements are focused on the robustness of the company’s phones
      3. The court, however, has accepted the case on initial assessment of merit

      Since, as per statement 2 above, all the current ads of Nokia are focused on the robustness of the company, then if option 5 holds, the court should not have accepted the case. However, we are given that the court has accepted the case.

      Therefore, by suggesting information contradictory to the information given, Option 5 should be FALSE.

      Hope this helps.

      Thanks,
      Chiranjeev

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