GMAT Verbal: Critical Reading Example Problem #1

Example ProblemsProblem:

Question Type! Inference

Which of the following assumptions most probably underlies the author’s tentative recommendation in lines 51-54?

(A) Human activities that result in environmental disruption should be abandoned
(B) The use of pesticides is likely to continue into the future
(C) It is economically beneficial to preserve endangered plant species
(D) Preventing the endangerment of a species is less costly than trying to save an already endangered one.
(E) Conservation efforts aimed at preserving a few well-chosen species are more cost-effective than are broader-based efforts to improve the environment.

Tip! Always read the question first.  Then find the part of the passage the question is testing and read that area before answering the question.

Solution:

Tip! First, identify the question type.

Your first step in tackling these problems is to read the question and identify the question type.  This question asks which assumptions most probably underlie the author’s statements.  This means it is an inference question, in other words, you must make an inference based on the information in the passage.

Tip! Second, find your area using key words or line numbers.

While you’re reading the question, look for key words or line numbers that indicate where you will find the answer to your question.  Remember, you can always find a specific area of the passage with the answer to a specific or inference question.  This question is asking about lines 51-54, so this is the area where we will find the answer to the question.

PASSAGE EXCERPT:

(36)      The question of whether the decrease in plant fecun-
dity caused by the spraying of pesticides actually causes
a decline in the overall population of flowering plant
species still remains unanswered. Plant species dependent
(40)      solely on seeds for survival or dispersal are obviously
more vulnerable to any decrease in plant fecundity that
occurs, whatever its cause.  If, on the other hand, vegeta-
tive growth and dispersal (by means of shoots or runners)
are available as alternative reproductive strategies for a
(45)      species, then decreases in plant fecundity may be of little
consequence.  The fecundity effects described here are
likely to have the most profound impact on plant species
with all four of the following characteristics: a short life
span, a narrow geographic range, an incapacity for vege-
(50)      tative propagation, and a dependence on a small number
of insect-pollinator species. Perhaps we should give special
attention to the conservation of such plant species since
they lack key factors in their defenses against the envi-
ronmental disruption caused by pesticide use.

Tip! Stick to your area! Only answer the question based on the information presented in the area.

AREA (Lines 51-54):
of insect-pollinator species. Perhaps we should give special
attention to the conservation of such plant species since
they lack key factors in their defenses against the envi-
ronmental disruption caused by pesticide use.

SOLUTION (continued):

Now that we’ve identified our area, we can evaluate our answer  choices.  The first thing we want to do is identify the author’s tentative recommendation: “Perhaps we should give special attention to the conservation of such plant species since they lack key factors in their defenses against the environmental disruption caused by pesticide use.”

Although we are being asked to make a guess about an underlying assumption, remember that we still need to base this inference on the information presented in our area.  If we see a word or idea that cannot be supported by the above sentence, we can eliminate that answer choice.

Tip! One wrong key word makes an entire answer choice wrong.

Is there any mention of cost or economic benefits in our area? No, there is not.  Therefore, eliminate choices (C) , (D) , and (E) since they all mention money.

Choice (A) may look tempting because it uses the phrase “environmental disruption,” which we also see in our area.  Before you select choice (A), though, read it again carefully.  Does our area suggest anything about abandoning human activities that result in environmental disruption? No, it does not.  It only states that special attention should be given to the conservation of certain plant species.  The passage never says anything about abandoning human activities that result in environmental disruption.

Now take a look at choice (B).  Can we find evidence in our area to support the assumption that the use of pesticides is likely to continue into the future? Yes, we most certainly can.  It is the only answer choice that correctly mentions an idea presented in our passage, specifically “pesticide use.” How do we know the author is assuming pesticide use will continue into the future? Take a look at the verb “we should give.”  It is in the future tense.  This implies that this problem (pesticide use and environmental disruption) will continue into the future. Therefore, choice (B) is the correct answer.

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