Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Reasoning - Beyond the Text

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Applying or Extrapolating Ideas from the Passage to New Contexts


Virtually all questions assessing application or extrapolation skills ask you how the information or ideas presented in the passage could be extended to other areas or fields. This is the kind of high-level analysis and reasoning skill scientists or theoreticians use when they consider a set of facts or beliefs and create new knowledge by combining the “givens” in new ways. Of course, these combinations may or may not result in a successful combination or outcome. 

For each application question, the passage material is the “given,” and the test question provides specific directions about how the passage information might be applied to a new situation or how it might be used to solve a problem outside the specific context of the passage. As the test taker, your first task is to analyze the choices offered in the four response options so that you can gauge the likely outcome of applying the existing passage content to the specified new context. Each response option will yield a different result, but each test question has only one defensible and demonstrably correct response option. 

The correct answer is the one option that presents the most likely and most reasonable outcome, based only on the information provided in the passage and the question. The questions do not assess your personal ability to apply information or solve problems, only your ability to apply information from the question to the passage you have read. For example, if a question asks you to determine the author’s likely response to four hypothetical situations, you would choose the response most consistent with what the author has already said or done according to the text of the passage. In determining the correct response, rule out the options that do not fit or are incongruent with the context (e.g., framework, perspective, scenario) created by the passage material. 

Application questions sometimes require selecting a response option that is most analogous to some relationship in the passage. Here the parameters are broad. Likeness is measured not by inherent similarity but by analogy. Questions dealing with analogies test the ability to identify a fundamental common feature that seemingly different things or processes share. This may sometimes require translating a figurative comparison into equivalent sets of literal terms. However, the task always requires looking beneath surface imagery to discern underlying relationships or paradigms.


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