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Easy? Medium? or Hard? Thoughts on Problem Solving and Thinking Styles

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Well-known member
Any task that we embark upon has different difficulty levels. So is the case with the questions in the reasoning exams and in the thinking that is required to solve the questions on them.

Generally we find questions of easy, medium and hard difficulty levels. Let me give my views on these difficulty levels and how I interpret them. I also outline the different thinking styles based on that logic.

To me the different difficulty levels correspond to the “physical”, the “mental” and the “spiritual” nature of the questions.
When something is interconnected well, it is spiritual in nature. The entity functions as one whole because of the interconnections. But when something is not fully interconnected but is still locally well connected its nature is mental. When the interconnections are missing and the entity is in isolation then its nature can be said to be physical.

Since we do not have to make the connections can the “physical” tasks be difficult? Let us take the example of text completion task on the GRE. The easiest questions to answer are those that do not require us to see the text as a whole. When one does not have to relate things, thinking becomes straightforward and easy.

So are “physical” questions the easiest to answer? Not really. They can be made very hard by requiring us to know the meaning of a very abstruse word. Even though connections are still not required to be made, answering them becomes difficult. In the context of a math question a difficult “physical” question would be a one that requires us to deal with a number of variables and follow a number of steps. We can interpret “physical” questions as something whose difficulty increases because of the complexity in them.

Take the other extreme of questions, ones that are “spiritual” in nature. These require us to see the whole text, relate one part to every other and arrive at the answer. This makes answering them difficult. In the context of text completion questions, we can say even if the vocabulary is not difficult, answering them is difficult. The difficulty here is because of the connections that are required to be made.

In between these two levels are the “mental” questions with a fair degree of interconnection and with medium level difficulty.
Just as questions are of different nature, people’s thinking styles are also different. Some may be physical in nature, some mental and some spiritual in nature. Those who are physical in nature are able to do well with complexities and grasp complex things easily but are not adept at subtlety and subtle thinking which requires making connections. Proficient physical people do accomplish tasks but by developing complexity in the solution which in fact many people may not be able to do.

On the other hand the thinking marked by subtlety sees the connections inherent in the problem and solve the problems using those connections. The solutions are simple, elegant and natural. The people using subtle thinking are able to see connections even in complex problems.

I believe one type of thinking is not superior to the other but only reflects the difference in the process of thinking. People should follow their own ability after identifying it and work on it to improve that ability.

For more information on various reasoning exams kindly visit: www.sravnatestprep.com


Active member
I use the 7 Thinking Tips by Ed Debono for making big decisions.

I mean, the tips like CAF, AGO, PMI etc.
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