5 tips to improve your reasoning skills

How to be a better test taker?

How to be a better test taker?

Master these 5 logical reasoning tips

  1. Necessary versus sufficient conditions. Suppose that all hospitals with a grade of A have high levels of patient confidentiality. Now suppose that Elmpark Hospital has a high levels of patient confidentiality. Can we conclude that it has a grade of A? No. The first supposition created a necessary condition. In order to have an A grade, the hospital must have high levels of patient confidentiality. However, there could be other requirements as well to earn a grade of A, like surgery outcomes. Therefore, Elmpark hospital could have high levels of patient confidentiality but still not earn the A grade. Now let’s look at a sufficient condition. Ex. If you study 3 hours per day, you will get a 90 or above on the test. Studying 3 hours per day is a sufficient condition but not necessary. There could be other ways of getting a 90 or above on the test (like going to a review class).


  1. Understanding a contrapositive statement

If rain is predicted, Sarah brings an umbrella to work. What can we conclude from this statement?
All we know is that if Sarah does not bring an umbrella to work, rain is not predicted. That’s called the contrapositive. If rain is not predicted, we cannot conclude that Sarah does not bring an umbrella.  She could bring an umbrella even if clouds are predicted. Likewise we cannot conclude that if Sarah brings an umbrella that rain is predicted.


  1. Correlation versus causation. Suppose that you see a data set that shows a positive linear relationship between students’ GPAs and their SAT scores. Can you conclude that earning a higher GPA leads to a higher SAT score? Absolutely not. You can only conclude a positive correlation between GPA and SAT score. It could be the case that another variable like IQ determines both GPA and SAT score.


4.The transitive property. I often tell my students that half of the SAT is understanding the transitive property. If an apple is an orange and an apple is a grape. What do you know? You know that an orange is a grape. Similarly, if an apple is an orange and an orange is a grape, you can conclude that an apple is a grape.


  1. The residual. In statistics, we learn that the residual is the leftover-the unexplained. The concept of a residual or leftover unexplained portion of a puzzle emerges in standardized reading passages. Consider a passage in which the author describes an audience who sees scientific evidence for a cancer treatment but does not express support for the treatment. What is left unexplained. 1. What would lead the audience to express support if scientific evidence does not? 2. What is the effect of scientific evidence if it does not yield support from an audience-does it lead to indifference or opposition?



Logic is still an important part of most major standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, MCAT, GRE, and LSAT

For more information on standardized testing contact

Sarah Weltman Yehuda


Tutoring Solutions Group

Englewood Cliffs, NJ