Verbal Reasoning - An Analysis of Complexity

To help you pass understand Verbal Reasoning tests, use this analysis to gather how questions work and the difference between the easy to the complex.

What is Verbal Reasoning?

Verbal reasoning tests are designed to measure your powers of verbal comphrension, reasoning, and logic - all done through the understanding of language. You will be tested on whether you jump to conclusions or whether you appreciate the limitations of a statement. By far the most common form of verbal reasoning test is one with a given passage of text, and you are asked to verify the validity of questions or statements about said passage. Questions regarding the passage of text reflect our ability to comprehension the logical contingents of language. For example, there is a difference between: A. the fox has appeared in the street, and B. it appeared that the fox was in the street. In example A, the language means that the fox is in the street. It is demonstrable and true by definition as it is intrinsic in the language. In example B, the fox could have been in the street by the logic of the language. It is not demonstrable that it was there. This crucial difference, one where it is a demonstrable truth, by definition, and one where it could have been, likely perhaps but not a truth, is important to remember. It is reasoning skills such as this that is the entire exercise of the verbal reasoning test.

You will be tested on whether you jump to conclusions or whether you appreciate the limitations of a statement.

Example Verbal Question

Here is an example verbal reasoning question, specifically designed to be a standardised question for such a test. It is less than 800 characters long (a common feature) with some assertive clauses, as well ambiguous clauses:

verbal reasoning text question example

We are going to look at one easy question and one difficult question to compare and contrast the spectrum of complexity for a verbal reasoning question set.

Easy Q: Chemical improvements have led to the construction of longer-lasting structures.

Line 4 states that chemical improvements in concrete have increased their lifespans. Therefore, it is definitely true.

As you can see, this question is relatively straight forward as the answer is clearly located within the text passage. Thus, we would say this is an easy question in terms of complexity.

Hard Q: Developing countries have produced constructions following the major improvements in the chemistry of concrete mixtures.

Line 4 states that chemical improvements in concrete have enabled the ease of manufacturing. Fine. Line 6 then states that concrete construction has thus become more affordable for many improving economies. The word many here gives ambiguity because it suggests that concrete construction has not become more affordable to some improving economies. Line 7 states that this means developing countries are able to produce more sophisticated construction. It does not say whether this means more or less buildings. Though it is suggested by the ease of manufacturing, and the more affordable cost, that it would be more be more rather than less. Nevertheless, we are still confronted with the ambiguity of not this does not apply to all developing countries. Therefore, definitely true or false are out of the question. While this could be insufficient information, we have enough information to know that it is more likely to false than true given the parameters we have looked at. Thus, the answer is probably false.

As you can see, this question is challenging given the ambiguity of the clauses as well as the divergence of logic. It is no way near as straight forward as our easy question.

Now Try Our Free Verbal Reasoning Test

We have taken a look at the difference in complexity between verbal reasoning questions, and analysed the way that the verbal reasoning logic works. Now let's put into practice by taking our free verbal reasoing test, designed to emulate the real thing.

Free Practice Verbal Reasoning Test

This free CCAT test has 30 questions and will take 20 minutes to complete. We rate this as 'challenging' difficulty of a typical Verbal Reasoning test.

Further Practice

Clearly, taking a single test isn't going to make great strides in growing your verbal reasoning ability. Therefore, further practice is necessary. If you want further practice, follow the button below and check out our verbal reasoning pack containing 27 tests.

Next: Verbal Practice Pack

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