PSAT Critical Reasoning Practice Test 1

Question – 1

1. Some believe that violent television programs and music lyrics are the cause of increased violence and crime in our cities, and should be censored – but in fact, there is no correlation between violence in popular culture and violence in real life.
Which of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the conclusion of the passage above?

  • A. There has been a 20% rise in crime in our cities over the past three years.

  • B. The general public is mature enough to separate entertainment from real life, so the question of connecting the two does not arise.

  • C. A majority of psychologists believe that television programs and music lyrics leave an inevitable subconscious impression in the minds of their viewers and listeners respectively.

  • D. Crime is on the increase even in countries with strict censorship on television programs and music lyrics.

  • E. By providing entertainment, television programs and music lyrics sooth and comfort the minds of their audience rather than incite violence in them.

  • Answer:C

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: Option (A) has no direct connection with the passage above, as there can be any number of reasons, besides television programs and music lyrics, for the rise in crimes in the mentioned cities.Option (B), by separating entertainment from real life, is actually strengthening rather than weakening the conclusion of the passage above.As professional experts on the workings of the mind, the viewpoints of psychologists on the mental effects of television programs and music lyrics carry a lot of weight. As such, Option (C) would most seriously weaken the conclusion of the passage above.Option (D), by trying to point out to the futility of censorship, is strengthening rather than weakening the conclusion of the given passage.Option (E) supports the quoted passage by presenting an opposite opinion to the allegation that violent television programs and music lyrics are responsible for increased crime and violence in our cities.

Question – 2

2. A new medical test that allows the early detection of a particular disease will prevent the deaths of people all over the world who would otherwise die from the disease. The test has been extremely effective in allowing doctors to diagnose the disease six months to a year before it would have been spotted by conventional means.
Which of the following, if true, would most strengthen the conclusion drawn above?

  • A. The medical test in question has already been put into operation over the past year in the state of Illinois, where it was devised. In the same period, the number of deaths there from the disease has decreased by a significant 10%.

  • B. To what extent common people avail of the test would depend, to a great extent, on the expenditure involved in taking it.

  • C. A majority of people do not generally take a routine medical test, and therefore the test in question is unlikely to serve its purpose.

  • D. Some medical quarters in the country have expressed their reservations about the full accuracy of the new medical test, saying that it has to be tried out much more extensively before it gets their approval.

  • E. The doctors vouching for the effectiveness of the new medical test belong to the same organization that devised it.

  • Answer:A

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: Option (A) seems to bear out the contention of the above argument with credible evidence, which may not be fool-proof as it relates to a fairly short period of time, but which nevertheless creates the impression of a strong likelihood that the medical test in question is indeed effective in the way it is claimed to be.Option (B) raises doubts on the practicability of the claim made by the argument, and as such weakens, rather than strengthens, its conclusion.Option (C), by raising questions about how many people will avail of the test in the desired manner, undermines the strength of the conclusion drawn above.Option (D) puts the credibility of the said medical test on reserve, and thereby does not support the conclusion of the given argument.Option (E) hints at possible partiality and exaggeration in the claim made in support of the new medical test, and in so doing casts doubts on its veracity.

Question – 3

3. The earliest controversies about the relationship between photography and art centered on whether photography’s fidelity to appearances and dependence on a machine allowed it to be a fine art as distinct from merely a practical art. Against the charge that photography was a soulless, mechanical copying of reality, photographers asserted that it was instead a privileged way of seeing, and a revolt against commonplace vision.
Which of the following can best be inferred from the passage above?

  • A. Photography is, in reality, a fine art.

  • B. Photography does not offer as much scope for creativity as art does.

  • C. It is photography’s dependence on the camera that disqualifies it from being a fine art.

  • D. There was a time when photographers were aggrieved at not being considered artists in the true sense of the word.

  • E. To a certain extent, photography is a mechanical, practical art, and therefore, compared to the fine arts, it is relatively soulless.

  • Answer:D

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: Option (A) is not backed by any evidence in the above passage, despite the latter containing the photographers’ point of view on their profession.Option (B) is an unwarranted conclusion arrived at on the basis of certain allegations made against photography, viz. that it suffered from a ‘fidelity to appearances’.The assertion made in Option (C) has just been mentioned as a charge made against photography, but the given passage itself does not take a position on the matter.That Option (D) is an accurate inference from the above passage is evident from the photographers’ description of photography as a creative way of looking at things and ‘a revolt against commonplace vision’.Option (E) has been presented in the quoted passage as a stance taken by that section of people which is unwilling to accord photography the distinction of being an art. The writer of the passage itself, however, expresses no view on the matter.

Question – 4

4. In 1896, a Georgia couple suing for damages in the accidental death of their two-year-old was told that since the child had made no real economic contribution to the family, there was no liability for damages. In contrast, less than a century later, in 1979, the parents of a three-year-old sued in New York for accidental-death damages and won an award of $750,000.
Which of the following is the most logical conclusion to the statement above?

  • A. Between 1996 and 1979, the USA had grown significantly in wealth.

  • B. New York was more progressive than Georgia in social values.

  • C. There were substantially more educated people in the USA in 1979 than there were in 1896.

  • D. There had been a transformation in social values in the USA between 1896 and 1979.

  • E. By 1979, courts in the USA had begun to recognize the economic value of children.

  • Answer:D

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: Option (A) is an assumption that is not supported by the text. It also supposes that the court judgment in question was connected with national income, of which, again, there is no evidence.Option (B) is a wrong conclusion drawn from the available facts. Firstly, there is a gap of eighty three years between the two cases cited in the above argument. Secondly, as Georgia and New York are both in the United States, it is presumptuous to suppose that the laws there were separate and based on local sentiments.Option (C) is an unnecessary assumption – there is no indication in the given argument to bear out the conclusion contained in (C).The whole point of the quoted argument is to highlight the change in social values that took place in the USA between 1896 and 1979, because of which courts in the USA delivered vastly different verdicts in cases that were very similar. Therefore, Option (D) is correct.Option (E) constitutes a misunderstanding of the argument, which is about how, with the growth of society, children in the USA began to be looked at in human, rather than in purely economic terms.

Question – 5

5. The majority of successful senior managers do not closely follow the classical rational model of first clarifying goals, assessing the problem, formulating options, estimating likelihoods of success, making a decision, and only then taking action to implement the decision. Rather, in their day-to-day tactical maneuvers, these senior executives rely on what is vaguely termed as ‘intuition’.
Which of the following best expresses the conclusion of the above argument?

  • A. A majority of senior managers today are less disciplined than their predecessors.

  • B. Senior managers of previous generations were more professionally qualified than their counterparts today.

  • C. The economic crisis facing the world today has been caused, at least in part, by the arbitrary behavior of so-called successful senior managers.

  • D. The faculty of intuition is a new discovery of psychology, and was therefore not employed by senior managers in the past.

  • E. A transformation has been taking place in the methods of management.

  • Answer:E

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: Option (A) is a flawed conclusion because not only does the argument clearly term the senior managers in question as ‘successful’, but there is also no comment made on the matter of discipline.Option (B) is an assumption not borne out anywhere by the argument, which merely speaks of successful senior managers not following a particular style of management.The word ‘so-called’ in Option (C) is a corruption of the argument in so far as it suggests that the senior managers being discussed were only seemingly, but not genuinely, successful. There is nothing in the argument to support this viewpoint.Option (D) is an irrational assumption that is not based on any fact provided by the argument.(E) correctly assesses a change in the style of management, based on intuition, that is being employed by a new breed of successful senior managers.

Question – 6

6. At the turn of the century, most Black poets wrote in the conventional manner of the age and expressed noble, if vague, emotions in their poetry. These poets were not unusually gifted, though Roscoe Jamison and G.M. Mclellen may be mentioned as exceptions. They chose not to write in dialect, which, as Sterling Brown has suggested, ‘meant a rejection of stereotypes of Negro life’, and they refused to write only about racial subjects.
If the above statements are true, which of the following conclusions is most strongly supported by them?

  • A. At the turn of the century, most Black poets were ashamed of revealing their color identity.

  • B. Most Black poets of the mentioned period were scared to rake up racial issues.

  • C. At the turn of the century, most Black poets wished to be known purely as poets, rather than being labeled as Black poets.

  • D. The only Black poets at the turn of the century who were willing to write about racial subjects were Roscoe Jamison and G.M. Mclellen.

  • E. Most Black poets at the turn of the century rejected dialect because they wished to be seen as educated.

  • Answer:C

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: Option (A) is a false conclusion, since there is nothing in the argument to support it.The passage maintains that the Black poets at the turn of the century refused to restrict themselves to racial subjects – it does not say that they altogether avoided racial subjects. This makes Option (B) a wrong conclusion.The entire argument tries to point out how Black poets of the mentioned period wished to avoid the stereotype image of the Black poet, and how, in this endeavor, they wrote in the conventional manner of the age. Therefore the contention made in Option (C) is absolutely valid.Option (D) reveals a misunderstanding of the text. Roscoe Jamison and G.M. Mclellen have not been mentioned as the only poets who were willing to write about racial subjects, but as the only two ‘gifted’ poets of the time.The above argument makes no correlation between a poet’s use of dialect and his level of education, making Option (E) a flawed conclusion.

Question – 7

7. Even as the number of females processed through juvenile courts climbs steadily, an implicit consensus remains among scholars in criminal justice that male adolescents define the delinquency problem in the United States.
Which of the following, if true, best reconciles the apparent paradox described above?

  • A. Male adolescents still outnumber their female counterparts.

  • B. Female adolescents are accused primarily of victimless crimes, such as truancy, that do not involve clear-cut damage to persons or property.

  • C. As, traditionally, delinquency in the United States was associated with male adolescents, there is still a deep-rooted tendency to think on the same lines.

  • D. Unlike in the case of male adolescents, female delinquency is seen as an unfortunate but inevitable outcome of the repression traditionally faced by the weaker sex.

  • E. In recent times, numerous female scholars have entered the field of criminal justice in the United States. These scholars tend to take a feminine perspective of the delinquency problem in the country.

  • Answer:B

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: If, as the above passage states, the number of female juveniles is climbing steadily, it implies that they constitute a significant number, irrespective of whether or not they are outnumbered by their male counterparts. As such, Option (A) does not very successfully reconcile the apparent paradox of the passage.Option (B), by revealing that the nature of the crimes committed by female juveniles is much less serious than that of their male counterparts, offers a very valid explanation for why scholars in criminal justice largely attribute the delinquency problem in the United States to male adolescents.Option (C) suggests that the scholars in question are attitudinally stuck in the past and share the insufficiently-informed views of the general public, which is not an acceptable explanation.It is highly unlikely that scholars in criminal justice will brush aside the seriousness of female delinquency on the ground that females have faced social repression over a long period of time. Therefore, the statement in Option (D) does not resolve the given paradox.The ‘feminine perspective’ referred to in Option (E) can have nothing to do with ignoring the hard fact of rising female delinquency in the United States, thus nullifying the ability of this option to resolve the paradox in question.

Question – 8

8. Federal Judge Learned Hand wrote, ‘I venture to believe that it is as important to a judge called upon to pass a judgment on a question of constitutional law, to have at least a bowing acquaintance with Thucydides, Gibbon, and Carlyle, with Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton, with Montaigne and Rabelais, with Plato, Bacon, Hume, and Kant, as with the books which have been specifically written on the subject’.
The argument in the passage depends on which of the following assumptions?

  • A. A judgment on constitutional law may require a broad acquaintance with world literature.

  • B. Constitutional law requires a greater degree of scholarship than other areas of the subject.

  • C. Since the passing of a judgment on important matters necessitated a high degree of eloquence, this could best be achieved through a wide study of literature and philosophy.

  • D. The syllabus in law colleges at the time of Federal Judge Learned Hand was wide in scope, and included subjects beyond what could be strictly identified as legal.

  • E. In order to be a good judge, it is not enough to simply know the law well; it was also necessary to be a man of culture.

  • Answer:E

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: Option (A) is untenable because there is no direct connection between constitutional law and world literature.Since there is no evidence to show that constitutional law requires a greater degree of scholarship than other areas of legal practice, Option (B) has to be viewed as an invalid statement.A perceptive reading of Federal Judge Learned Hand’s statement makes it quite clear that he was not referring to the required powers of eloquence of a judge, thus rendering Option (C) irrelevant.It is obvious that Judge Hand was not speaking in the context of any syllabus, but giving his description of the mental and intellectual qualities he thought a good judge should possess. Therefore, his argument in the passage did not depend on the statement in Option (D).The point that Judge Hand was trying to make in the above passage is that a wide reading of great literature instills qualities of intelligence, broad-mindedness, wisdom and compassion which stand a judge in good stead in his noble profession. As such, Option (E) is an accurate statement of the assumption on which Judge Hand’s argument rests.

Question – 9

9. Schools expect textbooks to be a valuable source of information for students. My research suggests, however, that textbooks that address the place of Native Americans within the history of the United States distort history to suit a particular cultural value system. In some textbooks, for example, settlers are pictured as more humane, complex, skillful, and wiser than Native Americans.
Which of the following conclusions is best supported by the passage above?

  • A. By nature, textbooks are culturally biased.

  • B. There should be an ongoing, careful review of how school textbooks depict Native Americans.

  • C. By the time that students are in high school, they know they cannot take textbooks literally.

  • D. The European conquest of the New World denotes the superiority of European cultures.

  • E. Native Americans should be encouraged to write their own history.

  • Answer:B

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: Since historical distortions in textbooks cannot be condoned on the ground that they are ‘natural’, Option (A) does not present a reasonable conclusion to the passage above.Option (B) offers a practical, rational solution to the problem depicted in the given passage, and as such is well supported by the given passage.Option (C) reads like a pretext to totally avoid addressing the problem under discussion, and therefore it is not supported by the quoted text.Option (D) is a reflection of the very mentality that has been put forward as a problem in the passage above and, as such, is not supported by it.Option (E) expresses an impractical suggestion which the passage under consideration does not support in any way.

Question – 10

10. Chimps and children, gulls and Greeks – the ethnologists go their merry way, comparing bits of human cultural behavior with bits of genetically programmed animal behavior. True, humans are animals; they share certain anatomical features with other animals, and some items of human behavior may seem analogous to the behavior of other animals.
The conclusion of the argument is best expressed by which of the following?

  • A. Much can be learned about human behavior through a close observation of animal behavior.

  • B. Much can be learned about animal behavior through a close observation of human behavior.

  • C. The distinction between human and animal behavior is not as sharp as is supposed because, all said and done, humans too are animals.

  • D. While human behavior is based on reason, animal behavior is based on instinct.

  • E. Analogies between animal and human behavior can seriously mislead if we fail to look at the context of a particular item of behavior.

  • Answer:E

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: Option (A) presents a conclusion that has no basis in the given passage, which makes no clear-cut connection between animal and human behavior.Option (B) would be an incorrect conclusion to arrive at from the argument, which is critical of the comparison between animal and human behavior.Option (C) misstates the position taken by the argument, which maintains that humans and animals only ‘share certain anatomical features’.While the passage does use the term ‘genetically programmed’ for animal behavior, it does not claim that all human behavior is rational, thus invalidating Option (D) as a conclusion for the argument above.The passage is dismissive of ethnologists who make too much of some coincidental similarities between human and animal behavior and, as such, Option (E) serves as an apt conclusion for its argument.

Question – 11

11. How many really suffer as a result of labor market problems? This is one of the most critical yet contentious social policy questions. In many ways our social statistics exaggerate the degree of hardship. Unemployment does not have the same dire consequences today as it did in the 1930s.
Which of the following, if true, would best explain why the statement cited above is not surprising?

  • A. In the 1930s, most of the unemployed people were primary breadwinners, income and earnings were usually much closer to the margin of subsistence, and there were no countervailing social programs for those failing in the labor market.

  • B. With the globalization of the economy, and the simplification of international travel, it is much easier today to find a job abroad.

  • C. The advance of technology has thrown open the doors of online employment.

  • D. Today, with the spread of education, a much larger section of the unemployed is in a position to take up gainful self-employment.

  • E. Ethical standards having fallen sharply, the unemployed readily take recourse to illegal avenues of earning, of which there are many more than there were in the 1930s.

  • Answer:A

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: Option (A) gives three convincing reasons why unemployment today does not have the same dire consequences as it did in the 1930s, and why, therefore, the statement cited above is not surprising.Option (B) does not constitute a reasonable explanation, as large chunks of the population cannot be expected to go abroad to find a job.Online employment does not offer the kind of opportunities that Option (C) envisages, and therefore this option does not serve the purpose of explaining the quoted text.Option (D) does not reflect practical reality, and as such fails to account for the contention made in the argument.Option (E) presents a far-fetched viewpoint which no knowledgeable person will agree with. Hence, it is not a satisfactory explanation for the phenomenon mentioned in the passage.

Question – 12

12. It has recently been proposed that we adopt an all-volunteer army. This policy was tried on a limited basis several years ago and was a miserable failure. The level of education of the volunteers was unacceptably low, while levels of drug use and crime soared among army personnel. Can we trust our national defense to a volunteer army? The answer is clearly ‘No’.
The bolded phrases play which of the following roles in the argument above?

  • A. The first phrase states an assumption of the argument, and the second phrase provides the author’s conclusion.

  • B. The first phrase provides the conclusion of the argument, and the second phrase reflects a point of view.

  • C. The first phrase states the author’s premises, and the second phrase provides the argument’s conclusion.

  • D. The first phrase states a position, and the second phrase supports it.

  • E. The first phrase states the conclusion of the argument, and the second phrase supports it.

  • Answer:C

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: An assumption is never directly stated in a passage, and thus Option (A) is incorrect.It is the second phrase, and not the first phrase, that is the conclusion of the argument, invalidating Option (B).The premises of the argument are that an all-volunteer army was set up, and that it proved to be a failure, making Option (C) the correct answer.The first phrase states the premises, rather than take up a position, making Option (D) an inaccurate statement.Since the first phrase does not state the conclusion of the argument, Option (E) is erroneous.

Question – 13

13. Many people believe that gold and platinum are the most valuable commodities. To the true entrepreneur, however, gold and platinum are less valuable that can enable him to further enrich himself. Therefore, in the world of high finance, information is the most valuable commodity.
Which of the following exhibits a pattern of reasoning most similar to the one exhibited in the argument above?

  • A. Many people think that running is the best exercise. According to another school of thought, however, there is evidence that yoga is superior to running as an exercise. Therefore, yoga is the best exercise.

  • B. Last year, a majority of people polled voted for Citizen Kane as the Best Hollywood Movie Ever Made. This year, however, the majority vote for the Best Hollywood Movie Ever Made went to The Ten Commandments, proving that the latter, indeed, was the Best Hollywood Movie Ever Made.

  • C. Many people think that capital punishment is the most stringent penal award that can be given. Others point out, however, that in capital punishment, a criminal’s suffering soon ends, whereas in the case of life imprisonment, the criminal undergoes suffering for a much longer period. Hence, life imprisonment may be said to be the worst kind of legal punishment.

  • D. Many people believe that wealth is the highest human goal. Spiritual people, on the other hand, hold that the highest human goal is the attainment of moral perfection. In the world of spirituality, therefore, character, or the effort to attain moral perfection, is the highest human goal.

  • E. Many people consider the pizza the tastiest snack. There are others, however, who prefer samosas to pizzas. Therefore, pizzas and samosas are together the tastiest snacks.

  • Answer:D

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: The pattern of the above argument is thus: A is considered good by one group of people. Another category of people, whom we will call B, have a different choice, which we will call C. According to the line of reasoning of this argument, in the area of activity or field B belongs to, C is superior to A.In Option (A), A stands for running, B for the people with a different choice, and C for yoga. Though this option says that C is superior to A, it generalizes the statement, without restricting it to the field B belongs to. Therefore, the pattern of reasoning it exhibits is not similar to that of the above passage.In Option (B), A stands for Citizen Kane, B for the voters, and C for The Ten Commandments. This option also generalizes its conclusion, without limiting its scope to the voters concerned. As such, it does not exhibit a pattern of reasoning similar to the quoted text.In Option (C), A stands for capital punishment, B for those who consider it the most stringent penal award, and C for life imprisonment. This option, too, generalizes its conclusion, and hence is dissimilar to the pattern of argument employed in the given passage.In Option (D), A stands for wealth, B for spiritual people, and C for the ‘attainment of moral perfection’ or ‘character’. As this option restricts the scope of its conclusion to the world of spirituality, it is similar in its pattern of reasoning to the above passage. Thus, it is the correct answer option.In Option (E), A stands for pizza, B for those who do not consider it the tastiest snack, and C for samosas. In mentioning both choices in its conclusion, it differs in its reasoning from the pattern of the given text.

Question – 14

14. The US gives billions of dollars in foreign aid to Balonia, a developing country. Leaders of Balonia resent foreign aid. The US should discontinue direct foreign aid to developing countries.
The author of the passage above makes which of the following assumptions?

  • A. The quantum of foreign aid the US gives to Balonia is insufficient.

  • B. Balonia has other sources of foreign aid apart from the US.

  • C. Leaders of all developing countries, like those of Balonia, resent foreign aid.

  • D. The US gives foreign aid to Balonia in its own interests.

  • E. There are indirect methods of giving foreign aid, which cause less resentment.

  • Answer:C

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: Option (A) reflects a wrong understanding of the text as, clearly, it is not the quantum of foreign aid that the leaders of Balonia resent, but the fact that they are subject to it.Option (B) is an inaccurate and uncalled-for assumption that is not supported by the text.The only possible reason why the writer of the above passage could have recommended the discontinuation of foreign aid to developing countries on the basis of the reaction in Balonia to US foreign aid is that he obviously feels that Balonia’s attitude is representative of that of all developing countries. Therefore, Option (C) is the assumption on which he makes the comment quoted above.There is no evidential link between Option (B) and the above passage, ruling this option out as a possible assumption that the writer makes.Since the passage is not a plea for the US to give indirect foreign aid to developing countries, Option (D) cannot be considered an assumption on which the passage is based.

Question – 15

15. In Roman times, defeated enemies were generally put to death as criminals for having offended the emperor of Rome. In the Middle Ages, however, the practice of ransoming, or returning prisoners in exchange for money, became common. The primary reasons behind it were economic rather than humanitarian. In those times, rulers had only a limited ability to raise taxes. They could neither force their subjects to fight nor pay them to do so. The promise of material compensation in the form of goods and ransom was therefore the only way of inducing combatants to participate in a war. In the Middle Ages, the predominant incentive for the individual soldier to participate in a war was the expectation of spoils.
Given the above information, all the following statements are correct except:

  • A. In Roman times, fighting against the Roman army was tantamount to challenging the emperor of Rome.

  • B. Rulers in the Middle Ages did not have sufficient means to pay their soldiers.

  • C. Soldiers in the Middle Ages agreed to fight in wars mostly from a sense of loyalty to their rulers.

  • D. The system of ransoming, in lieu of putting a prisoner of war to death, was motivated by economic rather than humanitarian reasons.

  • E. Soldiers in the Middle Ages were permitted to indulge in looting in the course of a war.

  • Answer:C

  • Answer Explanation:Analysis: Option (A) is implied in the statement in the passage that says that ‘defeated enemies were generally put to death as criminals for having offended the emperor of Rome’.Referring to the rulers of the Middle Ages, the passage notes that ‘they could neither force their subjects to fight nor pay them to do so’. Therefore, Option (B) is correct.Option (C) is incorrect because we are told in the passage that the soldiers fought only for ‘material compensation’.Option (D) is borne out by the statement in the passage which says that the ‘primary reasons’ for ransoming ‘were economic rather than humanitarian’.Option (E) is correct, as is obvious from the observation in the passage that ‘the predominant incentive for the individual soldier to participate in a war was the expectation of spoils’

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