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Inductive Reasoning I

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Inductive reasoning is used in virtually every job, and most people use it in their everyday life. Are you trying to figure out why your cell phone isn’t working? That’s inductive reasoning. You start by forming an idea, then you test that idea, then you use that information to determine your next steps. Nearly every job that uses deductive reasoning also uses inductive reasoning, and vice versa. While the two hand-in-hand with one another, it’s important to remember that they are two different processes used for different intended outcomes.

Inductive Reasoning Aptitude Guide



Introduction



Inductive reasoning is used in virtually every job, and most people use it in their everyday life. Are you trying to figure out why your cell phone isn’t working? That’s inductive reasoning. You start by forming an idea, then you test that idea, then you use that information to determine your next steps. Nearly every job that uses deductive reasoning also uses inductive reasoning, and vice versa. While the two hand-in-hand with one another, it’s important to remember that they are two different processes used for different intended outcomes.





Inductive versus Deductive Reasoning



Inductive reasoning is the cousin of deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is the process of making specific conclusions or inferences based on observations/data. Inductive reasoning is the process of drawing possible explanations from observations.



Isn’t a definite, specific conclusion better than a possible explanation?--It almost certainly is. When there are enough observations to make a conclusion, deductive reasoning can be used. However, and often is the case, there may not be sufficient evidence or observations to make a deductive conclusion. This is when inductive reasoning is used. When there are not enough observations to draw a definite conclusion, one must make assumptions to form a possible explanation.

This guide will orient you with inductive reasoning knowledge and strategies that will help you to understand and perform well with inductive reasoning style questions.



Number Induction



Similar to deductive reasoning, you will be shown groups of numbers and asked to match a number with one of them. You must identify potential patterns or identities within each group to help you make the most logical placement.

To which group does the number 15 most logically belong?





Let’s break down each group:

Group A: Multiples of 5

Group B: Even numbers

Group C: No strong identity

Group D: Odd numbers



There are a couple of things we have to remember. Just because there are 3 even or odd numbers within a group, it doesn’t mean that the group will have every odd number. The second thing to remember is that there may be more than one correct placement for a question.

Solution (spoiler): Group A

Both Groups A and D could fit the number 15. So now the question is which identifies 15 more specifically: an odd number, or a multiple of 5? Since there are more odd numbers than there are multiples of 5, Group A is a more specific fit for the number 15.



Word Induction



Like the Number Category questions, word categories will present a word and ask you to place it in one of the presented groups. Compared to numbers, words have more than on way they can be grouped: they can be grouped by their meaning, what type of word they are (noun, adjective etc.), or by how they are spelled.

To which group does the word Relevance most logically belong?



Make sure you check all groups for possible connections before picking the answer.

Solution (spoiler): Group C

There is a pretty strong connection between the word relevance and Group C: all the words begin with the letters Re.

It’s important to make sure there isn’t a more obvious, stronger connection between the word and the other groups. As we saw in the number category question, there are often more than one possible matches.



Diagrammatic Induction



These follow a similar format to Number and Word Induction, except these use diagrams.





Solution (spoiler): Group B



It might be tempting to pick group D because there is an identical arrow in the group. Let’s take a closer look at the groups.

Group A: 2 upward facing arrows, 1 rightward and 1 leftward arrow

Group B: 2 leftward facing arrows, 2 downward facing arrows and 1 upward facing arrow

Group C: 2 upward facing arrows and 2 rightward facing arrows

Group D: 2 rightward facing arrows, 1 upward facing arrow and 1 leftward facing arrow



Group D has more rightward-facing arrows than it does leftward-facing arrows. Group B has the most leftward facing arrows and so it is the best match for the left arrow shown in the question



Explaining Observations



This question type presents you with several pieces of information that you must form the most logical explanation to. None of the explanations will be conclusive in nature and generally, there will be more than one fitting explanation. However, good explanations explain the information fully and rely on the fewest assumptions (a rule known as Occam’s razor).

Which of the following best explains the set of information:



a) December is colder than January and February

b) Snow is random and it may or may not happen in any month

c) It snows in the winter, but it never snows in January or February

d) It only snows in January if it doesn’t snow in December



Solution (spoiler): Choice B

Choice A is using deductive logic in an inductive question type: just because there is snow in a month does not make it colder than months that don’t snow.

Choices C and D are good examples of Occam’s razor. They both explain the information, but they are more complicated than choice B. Choice C assumes that there is never snow in January or February. Choice D could also be true since it fits the data, but it’s a complicated condition that doesn’t make sense from the information given. Choice B is the most logical explanation.



Conclusion



There are many forms of inductive reasoning. It is a skill that’s used in jobs and solving problems on an everyday basis. Many people consider it more difficult than deductive reasoning. It is practiced less than deductive reasoning is in schools and universities and many individuals don’t get the practice they need before finding a job.

But, just like deductive reasoning and any other skill, this can be improved with practice! Practice questions such as our practice assessment are great tools you can use daily or weekly depending on your goals. In addition to this, the best thing to do to build your inductive reasoning skills is to practice explaining things in your everyday walk of life. If you see someone running and holding something important--come up with an explanation of where they’re going! This is an absolutely fantastic skill to have and you will become more and more successful the more you practice it.