A “method of reasoning” question is one that asks you to identify how an argument reasons. (These questions are also called “method of argument questions.”) The The question stem for method of reasoning question might read:
- The argument proceeds by
- _____ responds to ____ by
- Which of the following accurately describes how the argument reaches its conclusion?
We solve these questions by following three steps:
- Identify the argument’s conclusion.
- Identify how the conclusion is supported.
- Choose the answer that most accurately describes how the argument reasons to its conclusion.
Let’s take a look at each step.
Identify the Conclusion
The main conclusion of the argument is supported by everything else in the argument; it’s what the rest of the argument is attempting to convince you is true. If you struggle with identifying conclusions, take a look at the Identify the Conclusion Questions lesson.
Identify How the Conclusion is Supported
Make a note of the premises. What supports the conclusion? Why does the author think we should believe the conclusion? Silently paraphrase the support to yourself, trying to understand why the author finds the premises to be so convincing.
Choose the Answer
Carefully read each answer choice. Often the hardest part of these questions is understanding what each answer choice is saying. It’s okay to slow down and think about each part of the answer choice before deciding whether or not to eliminate it. Most people find it helpful to put each answer choice in their own words, so paraphrase whenever you feel confused.