GMAT Verbal : Considering Analogous Concepts in Humanities Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Considering Analogous Concepts In Humanities Passages

Adapted from An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke (1689)

But yet, if any one will be so sceptical as to distrust his senses, and to affirm that all we see and hear, feel and taste, think and do, during our whole being, is but the series and deluding appearances of a long dream, whereof there is no reality; and therefore will question the existence of all things, or our knowledge of anything: I must desire him to consider, that, if all be a dream, then he doth but dream that he makes the question, and so it is not much matter that a waking man should answer him.

But yet, if he pleases, he may dream that I make him this answer, That the certainty of things existing in rerum natura when we have the testimony of our senses for it is not only as great as our frame can attain to, but as our condition needs. For, our faculties being suited not to the full extent of being, nor to a perfect, clear, comprehensive knowledge of things free from all doubt and scruple; but to the preservation of us, in whom they are; and accommodated to the use of life: they serve to our purpose wen enough, if they will but give us certain notice of those things, which are convenient or inconvenient to us.

For he that sees a candle burning, and hath experimented the force of its flame by putting his finger in it, will little doubt that this is something existing without him, which does him harm, and puts him to great pain; which is assurance enough, when no man requires greater certainty to govern his actions by than what is as certain as his actions themselves. And if our dreamer pleases to try whether the glowing heat of a glass furnace be barely a wandering imagination in a drowsy man's fancy, by putting his hand into it, he may perhaps be wakened into a certainty greater than he could wish, that it is something more than bare imagination.

So that this evidence is as great as we can desire, being as certain to us as our pleasure or pain, i.e. happiness or misery; beyond which we have no concernment, either of knowing or being. Such an assurance of the existence of things without us is sufficient to direct us in the attaining the good and avoiding the evil which is caused by them, which is the important concernment we have of being made acquainted with them.

The relationship between the candle and the glass furnace mentioned in paragraph three is analagous to ___________.

Possible Answers:

the force needed to convince a rational person that skepticism is false verses that needed to convince a foolish skeptic

the smallest things the senses can perceive verses the greatest things

None of the other answers

the intellectual power needed to preserve and improve one's life verses the power needed to comprehend all things beyond any doubt

the difference in power between mere human senses and intellect and that needed to perceive and understand the natures of things as they really are

Correct answer:

the force needed to convince a rational person that skepticism is false verses that needed to convince a foolish skeptic


While the candle is associated with being "assurance enough," and "no man requires greater certainty" than the demonstration it provides, the foolish skeptic—i.e., the "dreamer," with his "wandering imagination" and "drowsy man's fancy"—requires a stronger and more forceful proof to break him of his pretence of doubting. 

Example Question #2 : Considering Analogous Concepts In Humanities Passages

Adapted from Jack London’s The Road (1907)

Barring accidents, a good hobo, with youth and agility, can hold a train down despite all the efforts of the train-crew to "ditch" him—given, of course, night-time as an essential condition. When such a hobo, under such conditions, makes up his mind that he is going to hold her down, either he does hold her down, or chance trips him up. There is no legitimate way, short of murder, whereby the train-crew can ditch him. That train-crews have not stopped short of murder is a current belief in the tramp world. Not having had that particular experience in my tramp days I cannot vouch for it personally.

But this I have heard of the "bad" roads. When a tramp has "gone underneath," on the rods, and the train is in motion, there is apparently no way of dislodging him until the train stops. The tramp, snugly ensconced inside the truck, with the four wheels and all the framework around him, has the "cinch" on the crew—or so he thinks, until some day he rides the rods on a bad road. A bad road is usually one on which a short time previously one or several trainmen have been killed by tramps. Heaven pity the tramp who is caught "underneath" on such a road—for caught he is, though the train be going sixty miles an hour.

The "shack" (brakeman) takes a coupling-pin and a length of bell-cord to the platform in front of the truck in which the tramp is riding. The shack fastens the coupling-pin to the bell- cord, drops the former down between the platforms, and pays out the latter. The coupling-pin strikes the ties between the rails, rebounds against the bottom of the car, and again strikes the ties. The shack plays it back and forth, now to this side, now to the other, lets it out a bit and hauls it in a bit, giving his weapon opportunity for every variety of impact and rebound. Every blow of that flying coupling-pin is freighted with death, and at sixty miles an hour it beats a veritable tattoo of death. The next day the remains of that tramp are gathered up along the right of way, and a line in the local paper mentions the unknown man, undoubtedly a tramp, assumably drunk, who had probably fallen asleep on the track.

Given the author's description of the train crew's behavior, which of the following is an analogous behavior?

Possible Answers:

A football coach who advises his own players to seriously injure the opposing players.

A senator who ignores his constituents' needs for his own profit.

A school principal who makes many students drop out of school due to excessively harsh rules.

A ship captain who allows a stowaway to fall of the deck through the normal actions of the working of the ship.

An airline pilot who forces a rowdy passenger off of the plane before take-off.

Correct answer:

A ship captain who allows a stowaway to fall of the deck through the normal actions of the working of the ship.


The train crew takes the hobo laying underneath the train and disposes of him in a gruesome and violent manner; however, it is done in a way which can be claimed as part of the natural working of the train crew, rather than doing something which would call attention to their actions. This is most similar to the ship captain who lets a stowaway fall off the ship's deck through a "normal" course of action.

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