GMAT Verbal: Critical Reading Example Problem #2

Question Type!

Which of the following best describes the organization of the second paragraph?

(A) An argument is delineated, followed by a counterargument.
(B) An assertion is made and several examples are provided to illustrate it.
(C) A situation is described and its historical background is then outlined.
(D) An example of a phenomenon is given and is then used as a basis for general conclusions.
(E) A group of parallel incidents is described and the distinctions among the incidents are then clarified.

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.

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 about the organization of a specific part of the passage, paragraph 2.  Therefore, it is a specific question..

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 the second paragraph, so this is the area where we will find the answer to the question.  Now that you have identified the area, read it carefully, looking for clues about the organization of the paragraph.


A major function of self-help networks is financial
support. Most scholars agree that minority business
owners have depended primarily on family funds and
(25)      ethnic community resources for investment capital.
Personal savings have been accumulated, often through
frugal living habits that require sacrifices by the entire
family and are thus a product of long-term family finan-
cial behavior. Additional loans and gifts from relatives,
(30)      forthcoming because of group obligation rather than
narrow investment calculation, have supplemented
personal savings. Individual entrepreneurs do not neces-
sarily rely on their kin because they cannot obtain finan-
cial backing from commercial resources. They may actu-
(35)      ally avoid banks because they assume that commercial
institutions either cannot comprehend the special needs
of minority enterprise or charge unreasonably high
interest rates.

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

SOLUTION (continued):

Now that we’ve identified our area, we can evaluate our answer  choices.  The first thing you should do is describe the structure in your own words.  What idea does the first sentence introduce? How do the remaining sentences in the paragraph relate to this idea? Do they agree or disagree?

From the topic sentence of the second paragraph, we know that the main idea of the paragraph is that a major function of self-help networks is financial support.  Now let’s look at the remaining sentences.  The second, third, and fourth sentences discuss how minority business owners (small entrepreneurs) depend primarily on their ethnic communities, savings and family members for investment capital.  In other words, these sentences provide an example of one method of financial support for entrepreneurs.  The fifth and sixth sentences provide an explanation of why entrepreneurs avoid banks for financial backing.

How do these sentences fit into the paragraph as a whole? They work together to support and explain the main idea (financial support) presented in the first sentence.

Now that we have dissected the structure of the second paragraph, we can compare our analysis to the answer choices given.

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

Based on our tip above, we can go through our answer choices and eliminate answers with key words and ideas that were not presented in the second paragraph.

Let’s look at choice (A).  Did the second paragraph present an argument? Yes, it did.  So far, so good.  Keep reading choice (A), though, and you will see it also mentions a counterargument.  Were there any counterarguments presented in the second paragraph? No, all of the information in the paragraph supported the main idea.  Eliminate choice (A).

Now look at choice (B).  Did the second paragraph make an assertion? Yes, it did. It stated that a major function of self-help networks is financial support.  This looks promising, so keep reading.  Does it provide several examples to illustrate the main idea? Yes, the second paragraph mentions various sources of financial support for entrepreneurs.  Choice (B) looks pretty good, but let’s still evaluate all the choices to make sure it’s the best answer choice.

Tip! Evaluate all the answer choices before selecting your final answer.

Take a look at choice (C).  Did the second paragraph give any historical background? No, it did not. Eliminate choice (C).

Examine choice (D).  Did the second paragraph present an example of a phenomenon? No, not really. It just presented the idea that a major function of self-help networks is financial support. Did it use this as the basis for general conclusions? Absolutely not. Knock out chioce (D).

Last but not least, take a look at choice (E).  Does the second paragraph describe a series of parallel incidents?  No, it simply mentions two examples that support the main idea.  Furthermore, does it clarify the distinctions among these incidents? Not even a little bit.

Now we’re left with choice (B), which we already thought looked pretty promising.  Now that we’ve determined that all the other answers are incorrect, we can confidently select choice (B).


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