Updated: Aug 27, 2022
Parallel Reasoning is a Section 1 Critical Thinking question. On the face of it, these are quite easy questions, but if you are not familiar with them, a long passage of text can make it difficult to choose the correct answer when you are time pressured.
We have a simple formula to get every Parallel Reasoning question right, making this an easy mark to get quickly and save those precious seconds for more challenging questions.
Put the exam question in terms of X and Y
This simplifies things a lot, especially if the passage is long or you are not used to these kinds of questions. lets look at an example question taken from the sample paper.
If you want to earn a good salary these days, you have to gain considerable experience of working abroad. Since I've always wanted to earn a huge salary, it's obvious that I'm going to have to leave this country for some period of time. Which of the following most closely parallels the reasoning used in the argument above?
We can write this as "If you want X, you need Y. I want X, so I need to do Y". Now if we look down the list of answers, we can do the same until we find one which mimics the above reasoning.
A. If I had more time to spend on this project, I know that it would be very successful. I've been told that I'm not going to be given enough time, so the project isn't going to succeed.
We could say about A that "If I had X, it will be Y. I won't have X, so it won't be Y."
B. Sam knew that if he wanted to write a film script, he'd have to learn the special techniques needed for such scripts. He has enrolled on a course to learn how to write them, so he'll soon be writing his first script.
"If I want X, I need Y. I am getting Y, so I will have X"
C. If the Foreign Secretary can bring the two sides together for talks, there's a good chance for peace. Peace is something that both sides want, so he'll be talking to both sides soon.
"If X happens, Y will happen. Everyone wants Y, so X will happen."
D If the doctor thinks that you should be allowed out of bed for a short while, then you must be recovering well from your operation. You have recovered much quicker than she thought you would have, so you'll be out of bed a lot from now on.
"If X happens it means Y. Y is happening so that means X"
E Annie says that if she really wants to win the London Marathon race, she'll have to train very hard every day. She told me that she is determined to win the London Marathon, so that means she'll be working hard on her training programme every day from now on.
"If I want X, I need to do Y. I want to do X, so I need to do Y."
This makes it easier to see that the answer must be E, because it most closely parallels the question.
The reason this technique works so well, it that when faced to a long passage, feeling nervous and under time pressure, it is easy to get lost in the text. But the strategy for every question should leave you doing something that makes the answer clear, instead of reading and thinking about the text. The BMAT is especially good at having lots of distracting text.
Practice makes perfect, so get out those question papers and give it a go, then when it comes to the exam, you won't even be thinking about how to do it. Good luck!