A Huge Chunk of Most IQ Tests --- and You Can Ace It
Most standardized tests on mental ability contain questions that call for inductive reasoning. If you’re an incoming college freshman or a job applicant about to take an assessment exam, or simply an individual who’d like to achieve further intellectual growth, it wouldn’t hurt to take time improving these skills.
First off, what is it?
Induction refers to the mental process of arriving at a general statement from the study of specifics.
You can think of it as creating a law which is most likely true for all, based on careful analysis of individual events. For example, if you’ve noticed that parrots lay eggs, quails lay eggs and ostriches lay eggs, this analysis will help you come up with the conclusion that “birds lay eggs.”
If, after dipping your hand into a bag of candies you came up with three chocolate bars, you might generalize that the bag only contains chocolates.
In a way, induction involves making conclusions about the forest by analyzing the trees.
Inductive reasoning is the opposite of deductive reasoning or deduction. Deductive reasoning is analysis that proceeds from the general rule towards the specifics. For instance, if it has been announced that the current month is part of the rainy season, you might conclude that there’s a very good chance that it will rain today too.
It is in fact making inferences by making observations...
There are many. Most questions require test-takers to identify patterns and use the pattern to make conclusions.
Consider the following math question: Which number comes next in this sequence: 4, 9, 12, 25?
In order to answer the question correctly, the test-taker must figure out why each of the four numbers belong in the group.
What do they have in common with one another? Studying each number closely, it would appear that all are perfect squares: 4 is 2 x 2; 9 is 3 x 3, and so forth. They also appear to be in sequence. The next answer therefore is 36 or 6 x 6.
There are also occasions when such questions are verbal in nature. For instance, there are questions which would call for the test-taker to appreciate the quality of conclusions. Below is an example:
Beth wore purple hat and a short dress Monday, and
Beth wore a green hat and a pant suit Tuesday,
Which of the following is most likely true on Wednesday?
a. Beth wore an orange hat and a casual T-shirt and jeans Wednesday.
b. Beth wore a business suit and no hat Wednesday.
Analytically, the best answer would be a. While Beth’s wardrobe differed Monday and Tuesday, the hat is consistent ---- regardless of its color. There is a good chance, therefore, that Beth will wear a hat on Wednesday.
Lastly, inductive reasoning tests can come in the form of analyzing pictures and diagrams. On many occasions, especially on IQ tests, test-takers are required to analyze what individual pictures have in common, in order to guess which picture should come next in a sequence. In some cases, there’s a first set to induce from a law or general pattern. Four pictures where the same image seems to be going clockwise, for example, can be a way to measure inductive reasoning by asking the test-taker to identify which picture belongs to the set.
There is a reason why college administrators and even employers, submit their applicants to inductive reasoning tests. A high score on such questions show that a person can work well in ambiguous situations --- that is, he or she can make logical and reasonable assumptions about what must be done just by observing one or two situations. A newly hired customer representative for example, need not be taught about the proper tone of voice to be used when speaking to a client. Just by merely observing how the veterans do the job, a person with high inductive reasoning skills can come to the conclusion that a gentle and assuring voice intonation is the way to go.
It is also critical in coming up with solutions to problems. If a company has a high employee turnover rate, for example, an interview of two or three resigning employees can surface the reason why many people are leaving the company. If 2 out of the 3 interviews mentions stressful work environment as their reason for seeking a new job, then perhaps programs on helping staff manage stress is an excellent way to keep valued employees in the organization. In this sense, inductive reasoning skills ensures that schools and employees get people who will not feel helpless in adjusting to new and unfamiliar situations.
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