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Critical analysis and reasoning skills (CARS) practice questions

Video transcript

the purpose of this video is to show you how I'd approach reading and answering questions on an example critical analysis and reasoning skills passage the name of this passage is the honest truth about dishonesty I'm going to read through the passage first when I notice important sentences or signal words I'll let you know that I'm highlighting them here's the passage although business people deserve more respect for their honesty than they receive a common complaint is that they take advantage of consumers through dishonest advertising instead of providing useful information for making rational choices advertisements often appeal to consumers emotions to persuade them to buy products regardless of need this complaint is true and obvious to all but the most negative people advertisements are designed to convince consumers to favor one product over others and presenting solely unbiased and unemotional information would seldom be the best way to accomplish this goal thoughtful people recognize that politicians advertise themselves and their policy recommendations in similarly biased and emotional ways the question is not whether business people or politicians have the strongest moral commitment to truthfulness in advertising both groups will deviate from honest practices when they expect that the benefits of doing so will exceed the costs the important question is who can most easily mislead their customers with emotional statements unrealistic promises and biased information business people or politicians okay so that seems pretty clear that the author is trying to tell us the last sentence is going to be important because they say the important question is I'm going to highlight that sentence so I can find it later now I'm going to go back to the passage to read some more people are less likely to be swayed by dishonesty and emotion responding to business ads than when responding to political ads for two reasons first businesspeople are attempting to persuade people who are usually spending their own money politicians are trying to persuade people who are deciding how they want to spend other people's money the motivation to minimize mistakes by carefully considering claims about costs and benefits before a decision is made and by evaluating those claims in light of Poe's decision experience is greater when one is bearing all of the cost of the decision than when others are bearing most of the cost ok so this first sentence seems important because it gives us a thesis statement well it tells us what the author is going to argue for I'm going to highlight that claim then I notice in the first sentence the phrase for two reasons that's also an important signal I'm going to highlight that in the next sentence the author then uses the word first and goes on to tell us the first of those reasons reading through it looks like the rest of the paragraph is still all about that first point I don't see a second reason in there so hopefully that's still coming I'm going to go back to the passage now to see what happens next the second reason why misleading claims are less effective in promoting commercial products than in promoting political products is because the choices that consumers of commercial products make have more decisive effects on outcomes then do the choices of consumers of political products when people purchase a product in the marketplace they get the product they choose and they get it because they chose it the probability that a voters choice will be decisive is increasingly small in state and federal elections and seldom greater than a fraction of 1% in most local elections given such a low probability of one person's vote determining the outcome of the election voters have little motivation to be concerned about the accuracy of political claims being made okay great so this paragraph gives us the second of the two reasons that we were looking for I'm highlighting the phrase the second reason so I can find it later now I'm going to go back to the text one might think that professors would be more honest than both business people and politicians when promoting their products value that is in their teaching and research unlike politicians professors try to sell their products to customers who can decisively accept or reject them without being directly affected by how many others make different choices however many undergraduate students are glaringly indifferent to what professors have to say so professors have more latitude than businesspeople to benefit from exaggerated or delicious claims okay so the first sentence of this paragraph uses a hypothetical statement one might think the author is using that to introduce a new claim the author is also shifting from discussing just business people and politicians considering a third group of people professors so for both of those reasons I'm going to mark this sentence because it gives us another main claim and it marks a transition in the topic that might be important later also the word so in the last sentence shows us a conclusion that the author is trying to make the conclusion asserts that professors have more to gain from dishonesty than business people so I'm going to mark that too now I'm going back to finish the passage professors have to be more restrained when publishing than when teaching because other professors will evaluate the truth of their published claims it is true that academic promotions may be earned and scholarly reputations in hand by exposing the errors and published work however professors are often less concerned with the truthfulness of articles written by other professors than one might think professors anxious to get their own articles and books published are often less interested in whether the publication's they cite are correct then in whether the publication's are accepted as correct by academics with BIA is similar to their own the people most likely to decide whether the books and articles will be published and cited okay so we finally see the passage for this citation at the end adapted from dealey why businessmen are more honest than preachers politicians and professors copyright 2010 independent review here the title makes it pretty clear what the author's message is going to be I'm going to highlight this title to help me later as well now let's look at the first question for this passage the author implies which of the following about business people and politicians a neither a very thoughtful people B neither have a strong moral commitment to truthfulness C both have biased views about their customers and constituents respectively D both are more concerned about advertising themselves than their products respectively this question is asking you which of these ideas the author is trying to convey in the passage because the question asks you which of these ideas the author implies instead of says this is a clue that you're not looking for a direct quote but rather you're looking for a part of the text that could be paraphrased or summarized as one of these statements because you're being asked to identify a paraphrase or summary from the passage this is a foundations of comprehension question looking through the first paragraph the first sentence tells us that the section will be about business people let's reread that sentence although businesspeople deserve more respect for their honesty than they receive the common complaint is that they take advantage of consumers dishonest advertising so the first sentence introduces businesspeople as the subject and it suggests that a common complaint about businesspeople is their dishonesty however in the first part the author tempers this complaint by saying businesspeople deserve more respect for their honesty than they receive this clause suggests that the author thinks people are too extreme and their beliefs that businesspeople are dishonest the next sentence provides support for the idea that advertising is dishonest let's reread that instead of providing useful information for making rational choices advertisements often appeal to consumers emotions to persuade them to buy products regardless of need then the third sentence shows the author's explicit endorsement of the idea that advertisements are dishonest if we read that again we can see this complaint is true and obvious to all of the most naive people the phrase obvious to all but the most naive people shows you a little bit of the author's attitude the language is meant to be insulting as it tells you that you're naive if you don't agree with the odd the final sentence in this first paragraph continues the argument that advertisements are dishonest in this sentence the author adds the idea that advertisements are actually designed to be dishonest let's read that sentence again advertisements are designed to convince consumers to favor one product over others and presenting solely unbiased and unemotional information would seldom be the best way to accomplish this goal okay so looking back at our four response options it doesn't appear that in this first paragraph there are any statements related to the lack of thoughtfulness in business people so it doesn't appear that we have any evidence for option a yet we also don't see any evidence that business people are concerned with advertising themselves so it doesn't look like we have any evidence for option D the paragraph does talk about bias but this is in relation to advertising not in relation to business people's views of their own customers so it doesn't look like we have any evidence for option C at the same time there is some information about dishonesty in advertising that suggests that the author might question whether businesspeople have a moral commitment to truthfulness so so far we have a little bit of evidence in favor of option D let's go back to the passage now and see what we can find in the second paragraph in the first sentence of the second paragraph the author starts to talk about politicians you also find the word thoughtful as well as the idea that politicians advertise themselves let's reread that sentence thoughtful people recognize that politicians advertise themselves and their policy recommendations in similarly biased and emotional ways when you read closely you find that thoughtful is used to describe people who recognize that politicians advertise themselves it's not used to describe either business people or politicians so this sentence doesn't imply that either business people or politicians are not thoughtful so this sentence doesn't provide any support for option a further the sentence also talks about the fact that politicians advertise themselves but does not mention anything about business people sharing that goal so the sentence doesn't provide any support for option D the next two sentences explicitly discuss the moral commitment to truthfulness among business people and politicians let's read the sentence again the question is not whether business people or politicians have the strongest moral commitment to truthfulness and advertising both groups will deviate from honest practices when they expect that the benefits of doing so will exceed the costs thus because both business people and politicians will deviate from honest practices when it's in their own interest these two sentences imply that the author believes that neither have a strong moral commit to truthfulness which is consistent with option B skimming through the remainder of the passage you can confirm that there's no language that suggests that business people and politicians are not thoughtful so we can finally reject option a the passage also doesn't discuss whether business people or politicians are biased in their views of their customers or their constituents and that allows us to reject option C finally while politicians may be more likely to advertise themselves the passage describes businesspeople as generally trying to advertise their products which allows you to reject option D okay now let's try a second question which of the following assumptions is most central to the author's argument option A most products are designed to appeal to naive and emotional consumers option B products are more likely to be purchased when they are advertised than when they are not option C if business people manufactured only products that people need there would be few products on the market option D if products were evaluated according to objective information about them people would often not prefer one over the other looking at these response options this question is asking you to think more deeply about the author's reasoning about the relation between products and advertising in reviewing the passage you can see that the topics of products and advertising are the focus of the first paragraph so that's a good place to start to try to see which of these assumptions the author is making when you're being asked about the parts of an author's argument including their claims evidence or assumptions that's a good clue that you're being asked to think about the author's reasoning these types of questions fall under the reasoning within the text category looking at the first paragraph in the second sentence the author writes instead of providing useful information for making rational choices advertisements often appeal to consumers emotions to persuade them to buy products regardless of need in this sentence the author suggests that advertisements need to appeal to consumers emotions contrary to option see this doesn't assume that most products on the market are not needed by anyone only that some of the people who buy some products do not need them in the fourth sentence the author talks about how non emotional and objective information would not be effective in getting people to choose the advertised product over others advertisements are designed to convince consumers to favor one product over others and presenting solely unbiased and unemotional information would seldom be the best way to accomplish this goal this implies that factual information is not sufficient as a basis for consumers to form a preference and thus this points to D as a valid answer combined with the sentence above the implication is that merely advertising a product will not lead to more purchases this is contrary to the assumption in option B instead only emotional advertisements would have this effect thus it seems the author is assuming D but not B in addition this fourth sentence does not imply that the author believes that products need to be designed to appeal to emotions rather it refers to advertisements for the products being designed to appeal to emotions so this implication is not consistent with what is claimed an option a finally the author's reference to naive people in the third sentence is a reference toward anyone who disagrees with the author not towards product consumers as stated an option a in sum all the options other than D require misinterpretations of statements made by the author or require going beyond what the author is saying thus only option D is something that the author is assuming in his argument let's do a third question suppose a politician is reelected despite lying about his voting record the passage suggests which of the following explanations a the politician made many contradictory during his or her campaign be for the second election were significantly different than for the first C voters did not compare the politicians behavior while in office the statements made during his or her campaign D there was no consensus among voters regarding the costs and benefits of a second term in office for that politician this question is asking you about a new situation that was not mentioned in the text the word suppose is a good clue that you're going to be asked to reason about a new situation when a question introduces a new situation where asked you to apply or extrapolate ideas to a new context then you're being asked reasoning beyond the text question the topic of this question is about politicians and how people might react to dishonesty so you know that the information that might help you to answer this question will come later in the passage since the first paragraph is only about business people the second paragraph starts to be about politicians as we already noted while reading the text the second paragraph then ends with an important question let's reread it the important question is who can most easily mislead their customers with emotional statements unrealistic promises and biased information business people or politicians this alerts you that a main focus of the author's argument is going to be people's reactions to the dishonesty of business people or politicians because you're looking for information on how people might react to dishonesty it seems like the part of the passage that follows this the third paragraph is going to be important the first sentence of the third paragraph tells you that the author is going to argue that politicians may be more likely to get away with being dishonest let's reread that sentence people are less likely to be swayed by dishonesty and emotion when responding to business ads than when responding to political ads for two reasons then the remainder of that paragraph outlines the first reason why politicians may be more likely to get away with being dishonest let's reread that first businesspeople are attempting to persuade people who are usually spending their own money politicians are trying to persuade people who are deciding how they want to spend other people's money the motivation to minimize mistakes by carefully considering claims about costs and benefits before a decision is made and by evaluating those claims in light of Post decision experience is greater when one is bearing all of the cost of the decision than when others are bearing most of the cost so the author is arguing that individuals are more willing to carefully evaluate the claims of a business person over the claims of a politician the author gives their second reason in paragraph 4 let's reread that paragraph 2 the second reason why misleading claims are less effective in promoting commercial products than in promoting political products is because the choices that consumers of commercial products make have more decisive outcomes than do the choices of consumers of political products when people purchase a product in the marketplace they get the product they choose and they get it because they chose it the probability that our voters choice will be decisive is increasingly small in state and federal elections and seldom greater than a fraction of one percent in most local elections given such a low probability of any one person's vote determining the outcome of the election voters have little motivation to be concerned about the accuracy the political claim is being made so if a politician is able to get reelected even though they lied about their voting record then the passage is suggesting that the voters were generally not as motivated to evaluate the politicians claims over business people's claims this is most consistent with option C where comparison of behavior against statements can be seen as a way of assessing the honesty of the politician voters do not compare the politicians behavior while in office the statements made during his or her campaign the paragraphs we just read don't talk about the presence of contradictory statements as reasons why people are less likely to be affected by the dishonesty of political ads so there's no evidence consistent with option a these paragraphs also do not discuss changes in the cohorts of voters it is possible that a new cohort of voters elected the politician in the second term but the important thing to remember when answering these questions is that this alternative was not discussed by the passage so we don't have any evidence in favor of option B the notion of costs and benefits that is mentioned in the third paragraph it's part of the careful evaluation process that people usually only engage in for business ads because the consumer bears all of the costs of a mistake the author does not assume that voters are likely to perform a similar cost-benefit analysis so whether or not there's a consensus in a cost-benefit analysis would be irrelevant also the paragraph does not discuss a lack of consensus among people and cost-benefit analyses as a reason why people might be less likely to be affected by dishonesty in any context so we don't see any evidence to support option D let's look at one final question for this passage the often most likely mentions probability in his discussion of voting behavior as reasoning for which of the following in paragraph four statement one to explain low voter turnout in state and federal elections statement two to explain the prevalence of politicians dishonesty statement three to explain why voters do not carefully consider political claims this question is a bit tricky because it gives us three statements that we need to choose between and then it gives us a bunch of response options let's return to the response options after we've thought about the statements so the main question is why does the author discuss probability as part of his argument you're being asked explanation in the text is supported by the discussion of probability this means you're being asked to think more deeply about the author's reasoning and these types of questions fall under the reasoning within the text category since the question tells you that the reasoning you're being asked about is in paragraph four that's a good place to start skimming through the paragraph you can see the first mention of probability is in the third sentence let's read that sentence the probability that a voters choice will be decisive is increasingly small in state and federal elections and seldom greater than a fraction of 1% in most local elections then the fourth sentence helps to tell you why the author thinks this point is important let's reread that sentence given such a low probability of any one person's vote determining the outcome of the election voters will have little motivation to be concerned about the accuracy of the political claims being made so the second part of this sentence tells you the point that the author is trying to make by mentioning probability the author is saying that the individual voter has a very small impact on the outcome of the election and therefore each voter has only a small stake in the overall decision the lack of a sense of ownership is used to explain why voters do not carefully consider political claims and this is consistent with statement three the author explicitly tells you in the first sentence that the thing that is going to be explained in the fourth paragraph is why misleading claims can be effective in political contexts let's reread that sentence the second reason why misleading claims are less effective in promoting commercial products than in promoting political products is so the author is not trying to explain low voter turnout and you can rule out statement one the explanation being developed by the author is why people react to dishonesty differently in political and business contexts although the dishonesty of politicians is implied by the passage the discussion of probability is not included as part of an explanation about why politicians are dishonest so statement 2 is not a good response it may be tempting to infer that the author is trying to argue that the effectiveness of dishonesty and political advertising makes it more prevalent in politics but the author never makes that connection in fact the author explicitly rejects the value of making comparison about the prevalence of dishonesty in paragraph 2 if we could reread that sentence it says the question is not whether businesspeople are politicians have the strongest moral commitment to truthfulness both groups will deviate so now that we have reviewed the statements remember there's a final step in answering these kinds of questions that have those statements indicated by Roman numerals and response options indicated by letters now that you have determined that statement 3 is the only one that accurately describes the relation between the discussion of probability and the explanation being given by the author you need to pick the correct response option in this case the answer is B