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Deductive and Inductive Reasoning Study Guide for McGraw-Hill's Police Officer Exam

By Michael J. Palmiotto, Ph.D. & Alison McKenney Brown, Ph.D.
McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 16, 2011

Deductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning is the ability to apply general rules to a specific situation. The three most common types of questions involving the use of deductive reasoning are applying verbal rules/procedures, applying quantitative rules, and interpreting laws.

Applying Verbal Rules/Procedures

This type of question is usually presented as a list of rules or procedures or classifications followed by a scenario. The applicant must choose the rule that best fits the scenario.

Example

Emergency Equipment Use

Image Officer Parker has been dispatched to the scene of an accident with a possible injury. What level of emergency equipment use is procedurally permitted?

(A) No emergency equipment

(B) Lights only

(C) Lights and sirens

(D) Sirens only

The correct answer according to the procedures is C.

Applying Quantitative Rules

This type of question is usually presented as a numerical word problem.

Example

Fees for exceeding maximum speed limits:

• 1–10 miles per hour (mph) over the limit, \$30
• 11–20 mph over the limit, \$30 plus \$6 per mph over 10 mph over the limit
• 21–30 mph over the limit, \$90 plus \$9 per mph over 20 mph over the limit
• 31 and more mph over the limit, \$180 plus \$15 per mph over 30 mph over the limit

Officer Maxwell has issued a speeding citation for 45 mph in a 30 mph zone. If mandatory court costs are \$50, which of the following equations will provide an accurate amount of the total cost of the citation?

(A) 30 + 50

(B) 30 + (6 × 5) + 50

(C) 15(45 − 31) + 30 + 50

(D) 15(15) + 30 + 50

The correct answer is B. The citation was for 15 mph over the posted speed limit. The rule states that the fine is \$30 + \$6 for every mile over 10 mph, which is 15 − 10 = 5 miles. So \$30 + (\$6 × 5) + the court costs (\$50).

Interpreting Laws

This type of question involves reading the definition of a law or a series of similar laws. Then you will be given a scenario. The question will ask you either to determine if the act described in the scenario matches the definition provided, or to match the act described in the scenario to one of a list of criminal definitions. Example

Theft: A person commits the offense of theft if he unlawfully appropriates the property of another with intent to permanently deprive the owner of the use of the property.

Which of the following scenarios best represents an example of theft?

(A) Tara takes her neighbor's lawn chairs without asking to use during her dinner party.

(B) Tara takes her neighbor's child because she wants one of her own.

(C) Tara finds a \$100 bill lying on the sidewalk near her house. She picks it up and keeps it.

(D) Tara finds her neighbor's poodle that has wandered into Tara's backyard. She brings the poodle into her house and keeps it. The correct answer is D. Answer A does not involve intent to permanently deprive, Answer B does not involve taking property, and Answer C does not involve unlawfully taking or appropriating the property of another. Therefore, the answer is D, in which Tara takes the poodle into her house and keeps it. Inductive Reasoning Inductive reasoning is the ability to reason from the specific to the general. For example, a police officer must often look at a specific situation, rule, or concept and see the similarities to a group of other situations or concepts. For this reason, law enforcement tests seek to assess your ability to find a rule or concept that applies to a specific fact pattern.

Example

Police Officer Ludwig received three reports of home break-ins that all occurred in the same neighborhood during the week of June 15–21. Each report included a description of a suspect(s).

On June 22nd another report of a home break-in was received. In this case, however, the four young men living in the house surprised the suspect, tackled him to the ground, and held him there while they waited for the police to arrive. Police found items from the young men's home in the suspect's car. The description of the suspect in this break-in is:

Based on the description of the suspects in the first three reports, the suspect in Report No. 4 should also be considered a suspect in:

(A) Report No. 1, but not report Nos. 2 or 3

(B) Report No. 2, but not report Nos. 1 or 3

(C) Report Nos. 1 and 3, but not report No. 2

(D) Report No. 3, but not report Nos. 1 or 2

The answer is A. The suspects in reports No. 2 and No. 3 do not match the description of the individual in report No. 4.

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