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Looking for some tips on how to improve your score in Logical reasoning and Problem solving? Terrified by long passages with scientific jargon and perplexing puzzles? Worried about running out of time? Remember the following advice and you’ll be well on your way to maximising your score.
1. Read the question stem first
This construct can often be time-consuming due to lengthy passages that may contain complex ideas or complicated technical terms. Although it might be tempting to start reading the passage straight away, it’s always a good idea to read the question stem first. Sometimes, you’ll be able to tell immediately from the question stem that you’ll have to read the entire passage in order to find the information you need to solve the problem.
However, you will often find the question asks “which of the following is true/which of the following can be concluded?”. In these instances, you should not read the whole passage! Instead, go through the answer options and underline key words or phrases. Then, go through the passage and skim read it, looking for key words or phrases that were in the answer options. You will often find that you then only have to read a few sentences in full in order to pick the correct answer.
2. Only use information within the scope of the passage
Having a question on a topic you know about does not necessarily mean that you’re more likely to know the correct answer! Students can often pick an incorrect answer because they base their answer on what they know already, instead of basing it on what the passage says. Remember that in order to make it fair for everybody, the passage will contain all the information you need to answer the question. This is particularly true for scientific questions – for example, you might know what a ‘control’ is or what a particular enzyme does but the passage may offer an alternative definition or explanation. Always base your answer on what the passage says, not your own preconceived ideas!
3. Be wary of the difference between correlation and causation
This concept can often be important in answering data interpretation questions. For example, a graph may show that for people with smaller palms, lifespan increases. This means you can conclude that there appears to be a relationship between palm size and lifespan. However, if an answer option says “having smaller palms increases your life span”, you should steer clear of it! We don’t have any information to say that having smaller palms will cause your lifespan to increase, only that there is a correlation between palm size and lifespan. There could be some other variable that explains the trend e.g. females may have smaller palms and also live longer.