What Is Logical Reasoning?
Logical reasoning is a type of problem-solving that involves working through a set of rules that govern a scenario. This set of rules or steps is referred to as an algorithm. Logical reasoning involves testing different sets of steps - or algorithms - to determine which sequence of rules leads to the correct solution.
In practice, it involves using given data to determine or to deduce other facts. To reason logically, you’ll need to draw accurate conclusions based on identified premises.
Common forms of logical reasoning include transitive inference (exploring the relationship between two given premises to draw a conclusion) and conditional reasoning (involving an ‘if….then…’ proposition). These structures are encountered across the different types of logical reasoning.
The three types of logical reasoning
Logical reasoning is an umbrella term that encompasses several different types of reasoning: deductive, inductive, and abductive.
Deductive reasoning starts by presenting premises and relations, which can be followed to reach a solid conclusion. There is a guaranteed certainty involved in deductive reasoning. It takes a general rule (or rules) and uses them to arrive at a specific conclusion that is always true.
Example: All dogs are four-legged. Poppy is a dog. Poppy has four legs.
Inductive reasoning has a different starting point. Observations are used to reach conclusions about the premises and relations at play, which can then be used to draw conclusions. It involves beginning with a specific observation and arriving at a general conclusion. This conclusion has less certainty than in deductive reasoning.
Example: Poppy is a dog. Poppy is four-legged. All dogs have four legs.
Abductive reasoning involves an incomplete observation (or set of observations) that are used to determine the best prediction. This may be true, but ultimately it is a best guess and is open to inaccuracy.
Example: All dogs have four legs. Poppy is four-legged. Poppy is a dog.
When might you use logical reasoning?
Our brains employ logical reasoning skills throughout daily life, making deductions and visualising outcomes so the best course of action can be selected or the appropriate decision made. This rapid reasoning process is unconscious but governs much of our sense-making and behaviour.
The chances are you probably consciously use logical reasoning skills a little less often. If you enjoy completing puzzles or playing games you will be relying upon logical reasoning skills. These may be word problems, spatial problems, or involve numbers (such as Sudoku puzzles).
More formal logical reasoning is used as a form of assessment within the educational system and in recruitment.
Logical reasoning tests are a common form of aptitude test encountered during the recruitment process. These tests are often set alongside verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, situational judgement, and personality tests, to get a fuller picture of candidate ability and suitability for a job role.
If you’re applying for a position, it is likely you’ll encounter a logical reasoning test during the early screening stage of the hiring process. Thankfully, logical reasoning, like other reasoning skills, can be improved and honed with practice.
What are common types of logical reasoning tests?
There are several different styles of logical reasoning assessment used within the recruitment process. Logical reasoning can be both verbal and non-verbal. This means that some tests feature paragraphs of text, whilst others involve diagrams.
Deductive reasoning tests
Deductive reasoning tests present candidates with a series of word problems. A set of premises will be outlined, and you’ll need to use the information contained in these to come to the correct conclusion.
These premises may be contained within a paragraph of text, or laid out as a series of statements. You’ll use the evidence provided to select the answer that is true from the list of multiple-choice options.
A simpler level of deductive reasoning is also included within the more general verbal reasoning tests, in questions where the candidate is given a statement and must indicate whether it is ‘true’, ‘false’, or if they ‘cannot say’ based upon the written information given.
Inductive reasoning tests
Inductive reasoning tests - commonly known as diagrammatic reasoning tests, abstract reasoning tests or simply as logical reasoning tests - involve making general inferences from non-verbal information presented in diagrams involving shapes and symbols.
You’ll need to analyse the sequence of shapes given, identify patterns and the rules governing them, and then use these to determine the next figure in the sequence or the missing part of the diagram.
Inductive reasoning tests are multiple choice, so you’ll have a list of answer options to select from.
How to improve your logical reasoning
Incorporate more conscious logical reasoning into your life
Completing puzzles and games that involve the direct application of logical thinking will get you used to actively working through and deducing the logical steps needed to reach a conclusion.
Incorporating learning with fun means you can hone your logical reasoning skills in an enjoyable way, and it has also been shown to aid the acquisition and retention of skills.
Take stock of all available information
Effective logical reasoning involves rapidly understanding and analysing data - whether in the form of words or diagrams. You’ll need to be able to quickly identify which information is salient and which is superfluous to the problem at hand.
Improving your ability to determine the factors that are influencing situations will assist in identifying the information relevant to logical reasoning questions.
Make sure you understand the different types of logical reasoning
Ensure you know the difference between deductive, inductive, and abductive logic in practice, as this will help you to understand the processes involved in reaching a conclusion in each reasoning type. Working through a scenario from each point of view - similar to in the examples given, will ensure you have a firm grasp on the differences in the ordering of the logic.
Take practice logical reasoning tests
Practicing online logical reasoning tests is the best way to improve your logical reasoning skills. The more practice tests you sit, the more familiar you’ll get with the format and structure of the test.