GMAT Verbal : Analyzing Sequence, Organization, and Structure in Mixed Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #22 : Analyzing Sequence In Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776)

The greatest improvements in the productive powers of labor, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labor. The effects of the division of labor, in the general business of society, will be more easily understood by considering in what manner it operates in some particular manufactures. It is commonly supposed to be carried furthest in some very trifling ones; not perhaps that it really is carried further in them than in others of more importance, but in those trifling manufactures that are destined to supply the small wants of but a small number of people, the whole number of workmen must necessarily be small; and those employed in every different branch of the work can often be collected into the same workhouse, and placed at once under the view of the spectator.

In those great manufactures, on the contrary, which are destined to supply the great wants of the great body of the people, every different branch of the work employs so great a number of workmen that it is impossible to collect them all into the same workhouse. We can seldom see more, at one time, than those employed in one single branch. Though in such manufactures, therefore, the work may really be divided into a much greater number of parts, than in those of a more trifling nature, the division is not near so obvious, and has accordingly been much less observed.

To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture, but one in which the division of labor has been very often taken notice of: the trade of a pin-maker. A workman not educated to this business (which the division of labor has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labor has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire; another straights it; a third cuts it; a fourth points it; a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business; to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them.

Which of the following best describes the structure of the passage?

Possible Answers:

The first paragraph introduces the topic, the second paragraph describes and contrasts large and small industries, and the final paragraph provides an example of this contrast.

The first paragraph provides an example, the second paragraph describes how this example applies to large industries, and the third paragraph describes how this example applies to small industries.

The first paragraph introduces the topic and describes small industries, the second paragraph contrasts large industries with small industries, and the final paragraph provides an example.

The first paragraph introduces the topic in theoretical terms, the second paragraph provides a concrete example, and the third paragraph compares and contrasts small and large industries.

The first paragraph contrasts large and small industries, the second paragraph continues that comparison, and the third paragraph provides an example.

Correct answer:

The first paragraph introduces the topic and describes small industries, the second paragraph contrasts large industries with small industries, and the final paragraph provides an example.

Explanation:

Questions that ask you to characterize the sequence of paragraphs in a passage like this may seem overwhelming, so it might be helpful to pause for a moment and consider what each paragraph accomplishes in the passage before considering the available answer choices. In this passage, the first paragraph introduces the topic of the division of labor and talks about how it is visible in small-scale industry. Then, the second paragraph contrasts how the division of labor is visible in large-scale industry with how it is visible in small-scale industry; we can tell that the author is contrasting these points because he begins the second paragraph by saying, “In those great manufactures, on the contrary . . . “ In the third paragraph, the author provides a concrete example; we can tell that he does this by the way he begins the paragraph: “To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture . . .” Based on this analysis, we can now narrow down the available answer choices and identify the correct one, “The first paragraph introduces the topic and describes small industries; the second paragraph contrasts large industries with small industries; and the final paragraph provides an example.” Some of the other answer choices attempt to confuse you by stating that the consideration of and contrast between small-scale and large-scale industries only occurs in the first or second paragraph, but considering the passage carefully will allow you to see that such consideration and comparison takes place in both paragraphs.

Example Question #22 : Analyzing Sequence In Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776)

The greatest improvements in the productive powers of labor, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labor. The effects of the division of labor, in the general business of society, will be more easily understood by considering in what manner it operates in some particular manufactures. It is commonly supposed to be carried furthest in some very trifling ones; not perhaps that it really is carried further in them than in others of more importance, but in those trifling manufactures that are destined to supply the small wants of but a small number of people, the whole number of workmen must necessarily be small; and those employed in every different branch of the work can often be collected into the same workhouse, and placed at once under the view of the spectator.

In those great manufactures, on the contrary, which are destined to supply the great wants of the great body of the people, every different branch of the work employs so great a number of workmen that it is impossible to collect them all into the same workhouse. We can seldom see more, at one time, than those employed in one single branch. Though in such manufactures, therefore, the work may really be divided into a much greater number of parts, than in those of a more trifling nature, the division is not near so obvious, and has accordingly been much less observed.

To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture, but one in which the division of labor has been very often taken notice of: the trade of a pin-maker. A workman not educated to this business (which the division of labor has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labor has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire; another straights it; a third cuts it; a fourth points it; a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business; to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them.

In every other art and manufacture, the effects of the division of labour are similar to what they are in this very trifling one; though, in many of them, the labour can neither be so much subdivided, nor reduced to so great a simplicity of operation. The division of labour, however, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labour. The separation of different trades and employments from one another, seems to have taken place, in consequence of this advantage.

Which of the following is the first step in making a pin, according to the author?

Possible Answers:

cutting the wire.

pointing the wire.

drawing out the wire.

grinding the top of the wire so that the pin-head will fit on it.

Correct answer:

drawing out the wire.

Explanation:

To correctly answer this question, you need to consider the third paragraph, specifically the part in which the author outlines the process of making a pin. The author begins discussing the specific tasks involved in pin-making by stating, “One man draws out the wire; another straights it; a third cuts it; a fourth points it; a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head.” While he continues after this, you can at this point tell that because the author begins by stating “One man draws out the wire” and because the sequence is related in a logical, step-by-step order, the correct answer is “drawing out the wire.”

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