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Look for conditional statements in any of these questions …


Last week, we talked about different types of deductions that can be made using conditional statements. This week, we’ll talk about the question types in which you’re most likely to need ’em.

Logical Reasoning

You might see conditional statements in any Logical Reasoning question type, but they are particularly prevalent in a few specific types:

Must Be True: Often the stimulus will contain one or several conditional statements, and you’ll need to use transitive reasoning to combine those statements and determine what else you can conclude.

Flaw: Some flawed arguments treat a necessary condition as one that is sufficient, or vice versa. If you can diagram a Flaw question, you’re probably looking at the fallacy of the converse or of the inverse, and you just need to find an answer choice that accurately describes the fallacy.

Parallel Reasoning: If a parallel reasoning question contains conditional statements, your task is straightforward (though not always simple) — diagram the argument in the stimulus, and then find an answer choice that combines conditional statements in exactly the same way.

Sufficient Assumption: All sufficient assumption questions are missing something. If you can diagram the argument, often it’s easier to see exactly what is missing. Also, even if the argument itself doesn’t lend itself to diagramming, the correct answer is usually given in the form of a conditional statement.

Logic Games

Many people don’t associate logic games with conditional statements, but it’s not uncommon to see rules in the form of a conditional statement, such as “Balthazar attends the party only if Luigi attends.” It’s important to understand exactly what that rule means — for instance, if you know that Luigi is attending the party, does that guarantee that Balthazar also attends? (Hint: no.)

Rules can occasionally get even more complex, such as this oft-misinterpreted structure: “Cruise attendees buy overpriced souvenirs before any time they swim with dolphins.” This rule tells us that if the attendees swim with dolphins, they will definitely buy overpriced souvenirs beforehand — but they might buy souvenirs at other times without swimming with dolphins.

You also might need to combine conditional statements in order to make deductions. For instance, if you know that “the pizza contains pepperoni if it contains pineapple” (side note: this combination is much more delicious than the more common Hawaiian pizza), and “the pizza contains sausage if it contains pepperoni,” then you know that any pizza with pineapple must also contain sausage.

You should always be keeping your eyes peeled for conditional statements (like that one!), but knowing where you’re most likely to spot them — as well as how to use them — will get you far.