GRE Verbal : Drawing Conclusions and Making Inferences in Multiple-Answer Questions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Analysis And Synthesis In Multiple Answer Questions

Passage adapted from H.G Wells' Anticipations (1901)

Democracy of the modern type—manhood suffrage and so forth—became a conspicuous phenomenon in the world only in the closing decades of the eighteenth century. Its genesis is so intimately connected with the first expansion of the productive element in the State, through mechanism and a co-operative organization, as to point at once to a causative connection. The more closely one looks into the social and political life of the eighteenth century the more plausible becomes this view. New and potentially influential social factors had begun to appear—the organizing manufacturer, the intelligent worker, the skilled tenant, and the urban abyss, and the traditions of the old land-owning non-progressive aristocratic monarchy that prevailed in Christendom, rendered it incapable—without some destructive shock or convulsion—of any re-organization to incorporate or control these new factors. In the case of the British Empire an additional stress was created by the incapacity of the formal government to assimilate the developing civilization of the American colonies. Everywhere there were new elements, not as yet clearly analyzed or defined, arising as mechanism arose; everywhere the old traditional government and social system, defined and analyzed all too well, appeared increasingly obstructive, irrational, and feeble in its attempts to include and direct these new powers.

But now comes a point to which I am inclined to attach very great importance. The new powers were as yet shapeless. It was not the conflict of a new organization with the old. It was the preliminary dwarfing and deliquescence of the mature old beside the embryonic mass of the new. It was impossible then—it is, I believe, only beginning to be possible now—to estimate the proportions, possibilities, and inter-relations of the new social orders out of which a social organization has still to be built in the coming years. No formula of definite reconstruction had been evolved, or has even been evolved yet, after a hundred years. And these swelling inchoate new powers, whose very birth condition was the crippling, modification, or destruction of the old order, were almost forced to formulate their proceedings for a time, therefore, in general affirmative propositions that were really in effect not affirmative propositions at all, but propositions of repudiation and denial. "These kings and nobles and people privileged in relation to obsolescent functions cannot manage our affairs"—that was evident enough, that was the really essential question at that time, and since no other effectual substitute appeared ready made, the working doctrine of the infallible judgment of humanity in the gross, as distinguished from the quite indisputable incapacity of sample individuals, became, in spite of its inherent absurdity, a convenient and acceptable working hypothesis.

Which of the following is a likely conclusion that could be drawn from Wells' remarks?

A. The newly emerging society eventually would look quite like mob rule.

B. The new forms of government would collapse under their absurd forms.

C. There would likely be widespread repudiation of the new forms of government.

Possible Answers:

A and B

B

A, B, and C

A and C

A

Correct answer:

A

Explanation:

The point of Wells' last sentence is that most of the new forms of government did not have a centrally intelligible organizational structure or ideal. Their governing democratic ideal presupposed that mankind, taken as a whole, was able to judge correctly, even if some individuals did not. This type of governmental organization could well lead to mob rule by the largest group of people agreeing. Thus, option A is acceptable. We can really infer nothing of its potential collapse (B) or its potential wholesale repudiation (C). B is likely most tempting, given Wells' negative assessment of this presupposition—its "inherent absurdity". As a general rule, do not go beyond what you can most directly say about a passage.

Example Question #2 : Multiple Answer Questions

Passage adapted from John Dewey's "The Need for a Recovery of Philosophy" (1915)

Intellectual advance occurs in two ways. At times increase of knowledge is organized about old conceptions, while these are expanded, elaborated and refined, but not seriously revised, much less abandoned. At other times, the increase of knowledge demands qualitative rather than quantitative change; alteration, not addition. Men's minds grow cold to their former intellectual concerns; ideas that were burning fade; interests that were urgent seem remote. Men face in another direction; their older perplexities are unreal; considerations passed over as negligible loom up. Former problems may not have been solved, but they no longer press for solutions.

Philosophy is no exception to the rule. But it is unusually conservative--not, necessarily, in proffering solutions, but in clinging to problems. It has been so allied with theology and theological morals as representatives of men's chief interests, that radical alteration has been shocking. Men's activities took a decidedly new turn, for example, in the seventeenth century, and it seems as if philosophy, under the lead of thinkers like Bacon and Descartes, was to execute an about-face. But, in spite of the ferment, it turned out that many of the older problems were but translated from Latin into the vernacular or into the new terminology furnished by science.

The association of philosophy with academic teaching has reinforced this intrinsic conservatism. Scholastic philosophy persisted in universities after men's thoughts outside of the walls of colleges had moved in other directions. In the last hundred years intellectual advances of science and politics have in like fashion been crystallized into material of instruction and now resist further change. I would not say that the spirit of teaching is hostile to that of liberal inquiry, but a philosophy which exists largely as something to be taught rather than wholly as something to be reflected upon is conducive to discussion of views held by others rather than to immediate response. Philosophy when taught inevitably magnifies the history of past thought, and leads professional philosophers to approach their subject-matter through its formulation in received systems. It tends, also, to emphasize points upon which men have divided into schools, for these lend themselves to retrospective definition and elaboration. Consequently, philosophical discussion is likely to be a dressing out of antithetical traditions, where criticism of one view is thought to afford proof of the truth of its opposite (as if formulation of views guaranteed logical exclusives). Direct preoccupation with contemporary difficulties is left to literature and politics.

Which of the following might Dewey recommend, based on the remarks in the selection above:

A. A repudiation of concern with philosophical questions.

B. The reorientation of philosophical questions asked by thinkers.

C. The end of the professional teaching of philosophy.

Possible Answers:

A, B, and C

A and C

B

B and C

C

Correct answer:

B and C

Explanation:

In the essay, Dewey does not seem to indicate that philosophy as such is a problem. Therefore, he is unlikely to call for a complete repudiation of philosophical questioning (A). He does, however think that the teaching of philosophy has distorted philosophical thinking. Therefore, it is not unlikely that he could call for the reorientation of philosophical questions, turning from the older and more "conservative" sorts of questions that are asked in scholastic / academic environments. Hence, B is one correct answer. It is possible, at least based upon this selection, to think that Dewey could call for the end of the professional teaching of philosophy. As he says, "The association of philosophy with academic teaching has reinforced this intrinsic conservatism." Thus, it is possible that he would wish—for the very sake of saving philosophy—to call for an end to all professional teaching of philosophy.

Example Question #3 : Multiple Answer Questions

Passage adapted from John Dewey's "The Need for a Recovery of Philosophy" (1915)

Intellectual advance occurs in two ways. At times increase of knowledge is organized about old conceptions, while these are expanded, elaborated and refined, but not seriously revised, much less abandoned. At other times, the increase of knowledge demands qualitative rather than quantitative change; alteration, not addition. Men's minds grow cold to their former intellectual concerns; ideas that were burning fade; interests that were urgent seem remote. Men face in another direction; their older perplexities are unreal; considerations passed over as negligible loom up. Former problems may not have been solved, but they no longer press for solutions.

Philosophy is no exception to the rule. But it is unusually conservative--not, necessarily, in proffering solutions, but in clinging to problems. It has been so allied with theology and theological morals as representatives of men's chief interests, that radical alteration has been shocking. Men's activities took a decidedly new turn, for example, in the seventeenth century, and it seems as if philosophy, under the lead of thinkers like Bacon and Descartes, was to execute an about-face. But, in spite of the ferment, it turned out that many of the older problems were but translated from Latin into the vernacular or into the new terminology furnished by science.

The association of philosophy with academic teaching has reinforced this intrinsic conservatism. Scholastic philosophy persisted in universities after men's thoughts outside of the walls of colleges had moved in other directions. In the last hundred years intellectual advances of science and politics have in like fashion been crystallized into material of instruction and now resist further change. I would not say that the spirit of teaching is hostile to that of liberal inquiry, but a philosophy which exists largely as something to be taught rather than wholly as something to be reflected upon is conducive to discussion of views held by others rather than to immediate response. Philosophy when taught inevitably magnifies the history of past thought, and leads professional philosophers to approach their subject-matter through its formulation in received systems. It tends, also, to emphasize points upon which men have divided into schools, for these lend themselves to retrospective definition and elaboration. Consequently, philosophical discussion is likely to be a dressing out of antithetical traditions, where criticism of one view is thought to afford proof of the truth of its opposite (as if formulation of views guaranteed logical exclusives). Direct preoccupation with contemporary difficulties is left to literature and politics.

If Dewey's remarks are correct, which of the following likely describes the situation at a University at his time?

A. Philosophy departments are stifling all questioning about new problems expressed on campus.

B. The most radical members of a campus are members of other departments, like sociology, anthropology, and literature.

C. There is little that is culturally beneficial coming out of the work of the philosophy departments.

Possible Answers:

A and C

A

A, B, and C

C

B and C

Correct answer:

B and C

Explanation:

The first answer can be immediately eliminated, as we do not know anything about how the philosophy faculties are treating other faculties on campuses. Therefore, we should not choose this (even if it does seem that they would be rather likely to do this, given Dewey's description of the current situation).

Answer choice C is most obviously correct. At the very end of the selection, Dewey says, "Direct preoccupation with contemporary difficulties is left to literature and politics." If "contemporary difficulties" are being dealt with outside of philosophy departments, it would seem that very little that is culturally beneficial is being done in those departments. By the same token, it is at least arguable that more radical members of a campus would be in departments like sociology, anthropology, and literature. Dewey implies this regarding literature in the same sentence. For our purposes, it is safe enough to think that departments like sociology and anthropology are also like this.

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