An inference is a tool in the inductive reasoning "bottom-up" method where potential correct conclusions can be drawn from observations. For example, if someone turns the key in the ignition of a car and it won’t start, a person might infer that the tank is empty. But this inference may or may not be correct. Possibly the inability to start the engine of the car is due to the battery being dead or the spark plug is broken. The main issue with inferences is that people base and formulate their conclusion on incomplete and insufficient data and therefore the conclusion may be invalid.
In the BCAT, the inference exercises begin with a statement of facts that you are to regard as the only truth, regardless of your personal subjective beliefs. After each statement, you have to concoct different potentially valid inferences and select the one observation which you believe to be generalizable to a broader set of circumstances. With this exercise you can expect to choose between the following answers:
- True: if you believe the inference is absolutely and unequivocally true and follows beyond a reasonable doubt from the statement of facts given.
- Probably True: The inference is probably true, indicating that probabilistically speaking, the statement is more likely to be true than false. Although you can't state it with plain certainty.
- Insufficient data to say whether or not it is true: if you infer that there is hardly enough data to make a correct inference. A clear case of 50/50.
- Probably False: The inference is probably false however there is not enough evidence to make that claim with certainty.
- False: if you believe that the inference must be undoubtedly false, meaning it must be incorrect as it misinterprets the provided facts.
BCAT Recognition of assumptions
An assumption is something presupposed and accepted as certain without any proven evidence towards that claim. In this part of the BCAT test, you are presented with a number of statements. Each statement is followed by a series of proposed assumptions. It is up to you to decide whether each assumption is logically justified based on the evidence in the statement. If you think that the assumption is taken for granted in the statement, select ‘assumption made‘. On the other hand, if you believe that the assumption is not necessarily taken for granted in the statement, select 'assumption not made'. Remember to judge each assumption independently.
Each of the exercises in the deduction test consists of several statements (premises) followed by several suggested and potentially correct conclusions. In this test, you must take the statement to be true, regardless of your preconceived notions on the subject matter. After reading each conclusion underneath the given statement, you are to decide whether you think it follows from the statement provided or not. If you think it necessarily follows from the provided statement, choose 'conclusion follows'. If you think it is not a necessary conclusion from the statements given, choose 'conclusion does not follow'.
This section of the BCAT consists of a short paragraph followed by several proposed conclusions. The provided information needs to be seen as an indisputable truism. The aim of this test is to have the candidate judge whether or not each of the proposed conclusions logically follows beyond a reasonable doubt from the given information. If you think that a particular conclusion follows, beyond a reasonable doubt, you select ‘Conclusion Follows’. If you believe that the conclusion does not follow beyond a reasonable doubt, you select ‘Conclusion Does Not Follow’.
BCAT Evaluation of arguments
Arguments are assertions that are intended to persuade someone to believe or act in a certain manner. When engaging in decision-making, it is helpful to be able to distinguish between stronger and weaker arguments. The evaluation of argumentation is the ability to analyze such assertions objectively without taking the subjective nature of certain claims into account. A strong argument is rational and has relevance to the scenario provided, whereas the weak argument fails to comply with either or both of the elements. This section of the test contains series of argument-based questions. The provided information needs to be assumed as true, regardless of it being weak or strong. If you think an argument is strong, select ‘Strong Argument’ and if you consider an argument to be weak select ‘Weak Argument’.