Border Patrol Agent

Preparing for Logical Reasoning Questions

Logical Reasoning
Reasoning is the single most important competency for successful performance in Border Patrol
jobs (and in other jobs in the economy). Correct reasoning is useful for decision making and
problem solving, activities that prevail on the job. In this part, you will read some useful
information about reasoning correctly.

The questions in this examination are designed to test your ability to understand complicated
written material and to derive correct conclusions from it. The kind of reading that these
questions ask you to do is different from ordinary reading in which you just follow the general
meaning of a series of sentences to see what the writer thinks about a topic. It is the kind of
reading you have to do with complex material when you intend to take some action or draw
some conclusion based on that material.

The test asks you to make logical conclusions based on facts you are given in various
paragraphs. These conclusions need to be based only on the facts in the paragraph. Therefore,
answering requires careful reading and focused thought about what information is given and
what information is not given.

The following information will give you some suggestions about how to approach the questions
and some information about how you can develop your reasoning skills.

Reading the Paragraph
Every reading paragraph in the test is drawn from some kind of written material relating to
Border Patrol or government work. There may be facts in a paragraph that do not actually apply
to every part of the Federal Government or that may not always be true everywhere. In
answering the questions, it is important that you accept every fact in the paragraph as true.
Remember that you are not being judged on your knowledge of facts, but rather on your ability
to read and reason on the basis of given facts.

Not all information is the same kind of information. There can be information about events or
situations, and there can be information about individuals and groups (or categories). It is
important to examine information in the paragraph closely to determine what kind of information
it is. Is the information about two or more categories of things? Is the information about how
two events or situations are linked together? It is also important to recognize whether the
information is positive or negative. Usually, information is positive (for example, “these tire
tracks are several days old”), but knowledge that something is not the case is also useful
information (for example, “these tire tracks are not from a truck”).

Reading the Lead-In or Basic Question
In this test, you will find a paragraph, followed by a lead-in phrase that asks you to complete a
sentence by choosing one of several response options labeled from (A) to (E). The lead-in
phrase may be either positive or negative: “From the information given above, it can be validly
concluded that” or “From the information given above, it CANNOT be validly concluded that.”
It is important to focus on the lead-in phrase at the beginning of a question to determine whether
it is positive or negative. Do not skim over the lead-in phrase.

Positive lead-in phrases are followed by four invalid conclusions and one valid conclusion. Your
task is to find the valid one. Negative lead-in phrases, by contrast, are followed by four valid
conclusions and only one invalid conclusion. The task in these questions is to determine what
cannot be validly concluded based on the facts in the paragraph.

The lead-in phrase may also limit the possible answers in some way. For example, a lead-in
phrase such as “From the information given above, it can be validly concluded that, during the
1990’s in California” means that there might be different answers based on other times and
places, but for the purpose of the test question, only conditions in California during the 1990’s
(as described in the paragraph) should be considered.

Reasoning About Groups or Categories
As was stated before, not all information is the same kind of information. There can be
information about events or situations, and there can be information about individuals and groups
(or categories). This part of Section II discusses how to deal with information about groups or
categories.

“All” Statements
A statement about two groups that begins with the words “all” or “every” gives you some
important information about how the two groups are related. The words “all” and “every” tell
you that everything in the first group is also in the second group. For example, in the statement,
“All the law enforcement officers on the case are Federal law enforcement officers,” the first
group, consisting of law enforcement officers on the case, is totally included in the second group,
consisting of Federal law enforcement officers.

The “all” statement does not provide sufficient information to determine whether or not all
members of the second group are included in the first group. Suppose that a librarian told you
“All the books on this set of shelves are about law enforcement.” From this information, you
might be tempted to conclude that all of the library’s books on law enforcement (the second
group) are on that set of shelves (the first group), but this conclusion is invalid. The books on
those shelves might only be part of the entire group of books on law enforcement. The sentence
does NOT provide information on whether or not other law enforcement books are placed
elsewhere in the library. The following examples provide an “all” statement (all of Group A are
Group B) followed by an invalid “all” statement (all of Group B are Group A). To develop a
good grasp of this concept, try to create some examples of your own.

True: All the people at my party speak Spanish.
Therefore, Invalid: All the people who speak Spanish are at my party.
True: All Supreme Court justices are lawyers.
Therefore, Invalid: All lawyers are Supreme Court justices.
True: All U.S. Presidents were elected.
Therefore, Invalid: All officials who were elected are U.S. Presidents.
True: Every U.S. Border Patrol Agent works for the U.S. Government.
Therefore, Invalid: Everyone working for the U.S. Government is a U.S. Border Patrol Agent.
True: Every U.S. Senator is a member of the U.S. Congress.
Therefore, Invalid: Every member of the U.S. Congress is a U.S. Senator.
Every “all” statement provides sufficient information to determine that at least some members of
the second group are included in the first group. Returning to our previous examples, we can
validly conclude that “some Federal law enforcement officers are on the case” and that “some of
the books about law enforcement are on this set of shelves.” Developing numerous examples on
your own of a true “all” statement (all of Group A are Group B) and a “some” statement (some
of Group B are Group A) will help you to develop a mastery of this concept.

More examples:
True: All the people at my party speak Spanish.
Therefore, Valid: Some people who speak Spanish are at my party.
True: All Supreme Court justices are lawyers.
Therefore, Valid: Some lawyers are Supreme Court justices.
True: All U.S. Presidents were elected.
Therefore, Valid: Some officials who were elected are U.S. Presidents.
True: Every U.S. Border Patrol Agent works for the U.S. Government.
Therefore, Valid: Some employees of the U.S. Government are U.S. Border Patrol Agents.
True: Every U.S. Senator is a member of the U.S. Congress.
Therefore, Valid: Some members of the U.S. Congress are U.S. Senators.

Reasoning From “None” and “Not” Statements
Information that something is NOT true is useful information. For example, you may learn that
one group of things is NOT part of another group of things. This is the same as saying that there
is no overlap at all between the two groups of things. Here, you can draw conclusions about
either group as it relates to the other since you can count on the fact that the two groups have no
members in common. If you can say that no reptiles are warm-blooded, you can also say that no
warm-blooded creatures are reptiles because you know that the first statement means that there is
no overlap between the two groups. In the test, you will see phrases or terms such as “It is not
the case that” or “Not all of” or words that begin with the prefix “non-.” All of these are ways to
say that a negative fact has been established.

Sometimes, our ordinary speech habits can cause us to jump to conclusions. Most people would
not make a statement such as “Some of the pizza has no pepperoni” unless they are trying to
suggest at the same time that some of the pizza does have pepperoni. By contrast, a detective
might make a statement such as “some of the bloodstains were not human blood” simply because
only part of the samples had come back from the laboratory. The detective is trying to suggest
that at least some of the bloodstains were not human blood. The rest of the bloodstains might or
might not be human blood.

As you work through the practice test, think about each negative phrase or term you find. Take
care to assume only as much as is definitely indicated by the facts as given, and no more.

Reasoning About Parts of a Group
The term “some” refers to a part of a larger group. For example, in the statement “Some agents
are taking specialized training,” the term “some agents” refers to a portion of the group of all
agents. You should note, however, that the fact that we know that “some agents are taking
specialized training” implies nothing about the remaining portion of the set of agents: other
agents may or may not be taking specialized training. Unless information is provided in the
paragraph to the contrary, treat “some” as meaning “at least some.”

Statements that refer to a portion of a set may contain other terms such as “most,” “a few,” or
“almost all.” Also, as discussed in the previous section, they can be negative, as in “Many
agents are not fluent in French.” From this statement you may be tempted to infer that there are
at least a few agents who are fluent in French, but that would be jumping to a conclusion. From
this statement alone, you do not know about the entire group of agents and whether or not they
are fluent in French. In these cases, you should remember that the term refers only to a part of
the group and that from this information on part of the group you cannot infer anything about the
rest of the group. Unfortunately, neglecting this principle of sound reasoning can cause costly
errors.

When you see a paragraph describing parts of a group, read the paragraph carefully to see if that
description is based on knowledge of the entire group or only on knowledge of part of the group.

Reasoning About “If-Then” Statements
As was said before, there can be information about events or situations, and there can be
information about individuals and groups. Previously, Section II discussed how to deal with
information about groups. Next, Section II will discuss how to deal with information about the
relationship between events or situations.

We are all familiar with the idea of a chain of events in which one thing leads to another thing,
which in turn leads to a third thing, and so on. For example, “if a person is convicted of
possession of a gram of marijuana in Aker County, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor, and
persons found guilty of a misdemeanor in Aker County are fined by the court.” It is easy to see
that one can think backward and forward along this chain.

Thinking forward means that, when the first thing happens, the later events will follow. For
example, if you learn that Bill is convicted of possession of a gram of marijuana in Aker County,
you know that Bill is guilty of a misdemeanor. Furthermore, if you know that Bill is guilty of a
misdemeanor in Aker County, you know that Bill will be fined by the court.

Thinking backward means that if later events do not occur, the earlier events did not occur. For
example, if you know that Bill has never been fined by the court in Aker County, you know that
he has not been found guilty of a misdemeanor there. Furthermore, by reasoning backward from
the fact that Bill has not been found guilty of a misdemeanor in Aker County, you know that he
has never been convicted of possession of a gram of marijuana there.

The wording we typically use to indicate this kind of linkage between events includes the simple
“if-then” sentence in which the first event is in a statement tagged by “if” and the second event is
in a statement tagged by “then.” An example would be the sentence “if Chris gets assigned to
the Bike Patrol, then the Bike Patrol will need additional equipment.” We also use the same
language to describe signs that such a linkage has already happened. An example of that
structure would be the sentence “If there are tracks on the ground, then people passed through
this area on foot.”

There are other ways of wording this relationship, however. When a sentence starts with the
word “whenever,” it means that a linkage between two events is being described: “Whenever I
hear that song, I think about the beach.” The phrases “each time” or “every time” suggest the
same thing: “Every time there is a power surge, my computer switches off.”

It is important to realize that you cannot validly switch the order of the two statements in this
type of sentence. If you do, your conclusion may be wrong and may lead to costly errors in reallife situations. For example, you learn that “If the jet engines are reversed (the first statement),
the speed of the plane will decrease very rapidly (the second statement).” From this information,
you cannot validly infer that “If the speed of the plane decreases very rapidly (the second
statement), then the jet engines have been reversed (the first statement)”. The following
examples start with a true “if-then” sentence, followed by an invalid “if-then” sentence with the
first and second statements reversed.

True: If a person is a Border Patrol Agent, the person is an employee of the U.S.
Government.
Therefore, Invalid: If a person is an employee of the U.S. Government, the person is a Border
Patrol Agent.
True: If a criminal receives a pardon, the criminal will be released.
Therefore, Invalid: If a criminal is released, the criminal has received a pardon.
True: If a person is convicted of murder, that person is guilty of a felony.
Therefore, Invalid: If a person is guilty of a felony, that person has been convicted of murder.
True: If a person lives in Germany, the person lives in Europe.
Therefore, Invalid: If a person lives in Europe, the person lives in Germany.
True: If a car has no gas, the car will not run.
Therefore, Invalid: If a car does not run, the car has no gas.

You can, however, validly reverse the order of these two statements when the statements are
made opposite (that is, negated). For example, you learn that “If the jet engines are reversed (the
first statement), the speed of the plane will decrease very rapidly (the second statement).” From
this information, you can validly infer that “If the speed of the plane does not decrease very
rapidly (the negation or opposite of the second statement), then the jet engines have not been
reversed (the negation or opposite of the first statement)”. The following examples start with a
true “if-then” sentence, followed by a true (or valid) “if-then” sentence with the first and second
statements made opposite (negated) and reversed in order.

True: If a person is a Border Patrol Agent, the person is an employee of the U.S.
Government.
Therefore, True: If a person is not an employee of the U.S. Government, the person is not a
Border Patrol Agent.
True: If a criminal receives a pardon, the criminal will be released.
Therefore, True: If a criminal is not released, the criminal has not received a pardon.
True: If a person is convicted of murder, that person is guilty of a felony.
Therefore, True: If a person is not guilty of a felony, that person has not been convicted of
murder.
True: If a person lives in Germany, the person lives in Europe.
Therefore, True: If a person does not live in Europe, the person does not live in Germany.
True: If a car has no gas, the car will not run.
Therefore, True: If a car runs, the car has gas.
You cannot infer the opposite of the second statement from the opposite of the first statement.
For example, you cannot validly infer that “If the jet engines are not reversed (the opposite of the
first statement), then the speed of the plane does not decrease very rapidly (the opposite of the
second statement)”. The following examples start with a true “if-then” sentence followed by an
invalid “if-then” sentence made of the opposite of the first and second statements.
True: If a person is a Border Patrol Agent, the person is an employee of the U.S.
Government.
Therefore, Invalid: If a person is not a Border Patrol Agent, the person is not an employee of
the U.S. Government.
True: If a criminal receives a pardon, the criminal will be released.
Therefore, Invalid: If a criminal does not receive a pardon, the criminal will not be released.
True: If a person is convicted of murder, that person is guilty of a felony.
Therefore, Invalid: If a person is not convicted of murder, that person is not guilty of a felony.
True: If a person lives in Germany, the person lives in Europe.
Therefore, Invalid: If a person does not live in Germany, the person does not live in Europe.
True: If a car has no gas, the car will not run.
Therefore, Invalid: If a car has gas, the car will run.

A Few Final Cautions About Wording
There are test preparation classes that train people to take tests. In some of these courses,
students are advised against choosing any answer in a reasoning test if it starts with the word
“all” or the word “none.” This is supposed to be useful advice because it is believed that most
correct answers strike a balance between extremes and usually do not cover subjects that can be
summarized in sentences beginning with “all” or “none.” If you have heard this advice before,
you should ignore it for this test. “All” statements and “none” statements occur in real-life
situations and, consequently, you will be asked to work with them in this test in the reading
paragraphs as well as in both correct and incorrect responses.

In general, you should pay attention to any words that provide information on groups or on
linked events. This includes a wide range of negative words (such as “seldom” or “never” or
“illegal” or “prohibited”) and negative prefixes (such as “non-” “un-” or “dis-”). It also includes
positive words (such as “all” or “some” or “most” or “always”). You should also watch for
connectors such as “whenever” or “unless” or “except,” since these words sometimes contain
key information about relations among the facts given in the paragraph.

English is a language that ordinarily uses single negatives. The word “not,” by itself, does the
job of making a formal English sentence into its opposite: “That bird is NOT an eagle.” On this
test, if you read a sentence such as “The cord is not wound,” it means the cord is still unwound.
When an English sentence has two negatives, the sentence has a positive meaning. For example,
a sentence that reads “This application is NOT unworthy” means that the application IS worthy.
The sentence “The bell did ring” could be stated “It is NOT the case that the bell did NOT ring.”

Finally, it is extremely important to pay close attention to the use of the word “ONLY.” A
sentence such as “The door will open IF AND ONLY IF both keys are used” is a very strong
statement that means that there is just one way to open the door—with both keys. If the sentence
just said, “The door will open if the key is used,” there may be several other ways to open the
door. But that is not the case when the expression “if and only if” is used.
Remember These Tips When Taking the Logical Reasoning Test

1. In questions with positive lead statements, always choose the only conclusion that can
definitely be drawn from the information given in the paragraph.

2. Remember NOT to use any outside factual information to reach your conclusion.

3. Read the lead-in sentence and the paragraph very carefully. Also, read all the answer
choices before you mark the one you think is correct.

4. Pay special attention whenever the question uses words such as “all,” “some,” or “none.”
Other terms such as “unless” or “except” or “only” are also important. These words help
to define the facts from which you must draw conclusions.

5. Also pay special attention whenever you see a negative prefix such as “non-” or a
negative verb such as “disconnect” or “unfasten.” These may be crucial to understanding
the basic facts in the paragraph.

6. Ignore any advice you may have received in the past about avoiding an answer that
contains the word “all” or the word “none.” These may be signs of an incorrect response
in some tests, but not in this test. You will find these words in both right and wrong
response options.

7. Take the sample test and study the explanation for each of the questions very carefully.
This will help you fine-tune your reasoning on the actual test.


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