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Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving Help

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Updated on Sep 29, 2011

Introduction to Logical Reasoning and Problem Solving

"Change your thoughts, and you change the world."

—Norman Vincent Peale, Protestant preacher and author and creator of the theory of "positive thinking" (1898–1993)

Lesson Summary

Logic problems and puzzles can be fun, but they can also help determine the direction of your career if you ever have to take an exam that tests your logic and reasoning skills. This lesson will show you what types of questions you'll typically find on such an exam and how to tackle those kinds of questions.

Strong critical thinking and reasoning skills will help you make better decisions and solve problems more effectively on a day-to-day basis. But they'll also help you in special situations, such as when you are being tested on your logic and reasoning skills. For example, you may be taking a critical thinking class, applying for a promotion, or hoping to be a police officer or fireman—or maybe you just like to solve logic problems and puzzles for fun. Whatever the case, if you find yourself facing logic problems, you'll see they generally come in the form of questions that test your:

  • Common sense
  • Ability to distinguish good evidence from bad evidence
  • Ability to draw logical conclusions from evidence

You've been learning a lot about critical thinking and deductive and inductive reasoning, so you should already have the skills to tackle these kinds of questions. This lesson aims to familiarize you with the format of these kinds of test questions and to provide you with strategies for getting to the correct answer quickly.

Common Sense

Questions that test your common sense often present you with decision-making scenarios. Though the situation may be foreign to you and the questions may seem complicated, you can find the answer by remembering how to break a problem down into its parts and by thinking logically about the situation.

Sample Question

Read the following question:

A police officer arrives at the scene of a two-car accident. In what order should the officer do the following?

  1. Interview witnesses.
  2. Determine if anyone needs immediate medical attention.
  3. Move the vehicles off of the roadway.
  4. Interview the drivers to find out what happened.
  1. II, IV, III, I
  2. II, IV, I, III
  3. II, III, I, IV
  4. IV, II, III, I

The best answer is b, II, IV, I, III. Your common sense should tell you that no matter what, the first priority is the safety of the people involved in the crash. That's why II has to come first on the list—and that means you can automatically eliminate answer d. Now, again using your common sense, what should come next? While statements from witnesses are important, it's more important to speak directly to the people involved in the accident, so IV should follow II—and that eliminates answer c. Now you're down to a and b. Now why should you wait to move the vehicles out of the roadway? The main reason this doesn't come earlier is because you need to see the evidence—exactly where and how the cars ended up—as you listen to driver and witness testimony. Once you have their statements and have recorded the scene, then you can safely move the vehicles.

Tip

Common sense is a trait that it is important to develop. It is often the gut instinct you have to a situation, the answer that pops into your head first. It's your conscience that reminds you what is right and wrong. Learn to listen to it.

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