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

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

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Example Question #6 : Single Answer Questions

Adapted from The Frontier in American History, by Frederick Jackson Turner

But the larger part of what has been distinctive and valuable in America's contribution to the history of the human spirit has been due to this nation's peculiar experience in extending its type of frontier into new regions—and in creating peaceful societies with new ideals in the successive vast and differing geographic provinces which together make up the United States. Directly or indirectly these experiences shaped the life of both the Eastern and Western States, and even reacted upon the Old World, influencing the direction of its thought and progress. This experience has been fundamental in the economic, political, and social characteristics of the American people and in their conceptions of their destiny.

Writing at the close of 1796, the French minister to the United States, M. Adet, reported to his government that Jefferson could not be relied on to be devoted to French interests, and he added that "Jefferson, I say, is American, and by that name, he cannot be sincerely our friend. An American is the born enemy of all European peoples." Obviously erroneous as are these words, there was an element of truth in them. If we would understand this element of truth, we must study the transforming influence of the American wilderness, remote from Europe, and by its resources and its free opportunities affording the conditions under which a new people, with new social and political types and ideals, could arise to play its own part in the world, and to influence Europe.

It can be inferred from the passage that the author believes the French __________.

Possible Answers:

are isolated from the influence of the frontier

have no diplomatic relations with America

are distinguished from the Americans because of America's interaction with the frontier

have no conception of the frontier or the wilderness

automatically hate every American because of the frontier

Correct answer:

are distinguished from the Americans because of America's interaction with the frontier

Explanation:

The French are only mentioned by quoting the French ambassador from 1796, regarding his dislike of Jefferson. The author only agrees with the Ambassador to say the French and Americans are different, although the author believes it is due to the frontier.

Example Question #1 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

A Short History of the Electric Guitar, by Will Floyd

Any modern musical performance is almost impossible to countenance without the presence of an electric guitar. Most of the time it is a solid-body electric guitar, and while they seem ubiquitous and obvious now, that was not always the case. First invented in the early 1930s, the first electric guitar simply amplified existing guitars. No one thought of it as a new instrument, but merely a way to put a microphone inside of the guitar. Through the use of electronic pickups that went straight to an amplifier, the sound of the guitar could be broadcast over loud jazz bands with drums and horns. At the time, most everyone believed an electric guitar still had to look like an acoustic guitar, and all models featured a hollow body acoustic shape that would resonate with the sound of the guitar strings. In all actuality, the only necessity for an electric guitar is an electric pickup to capture their small vibrations. An electric guitar does not, and never did, need a space to resonate the sound of the strings. Instead, it could be a simple block, with the fret-board, strings, and a pick up attached to a piece of lumber. This method is exactly what the famous guitar player and maker Les Paul did with his “Log,” but Les Paul's “Log” revealed some of the biases against a solid-body guitar. While the guitar was just one solid piece of wood, Paul would attach two wings to it that made the guitar look like a hollow body.

Despite Les Paul’s innovations, few manufacturers made a marketable solid-body guitar. Rickenbacker and Bigsby were both companies that made limited productions of solid-body electric guitars. Leo Fender was the first luthier to make a popular, mass-market electric solid-body guitar. Leo Fender started his career by working on radios and other small electronic devices, but developed an interest in building guitars. Immediately after World War II, big bands were considered antiquated, and small honky-tonk and boogie-woogie combos wanted cheaper, sturdier, and better intonated guitars, that they could play faster and louder. Leo Fender obliged with his Esquire guitar. Looking completely unlike any guitar made before, and being extremely thin, with no resonating panels, Fender’s guitar was revolutionary. While Fender continued to tweak it through the years, one thing remains the same: the general shape of the guitar. Renamed first the Broadcaster, then the more famous Telecaster, the silhouette of Fender’s Esquire is still a popular choice among musicians today.

It can be inferred from the passage that "honky-tonk and boogie-woogie combos" __________.

Possible Answers:

were only started after Leo Fender had successfully made and marketed his Esquire guitar

were basically the same as earlier jazz and big band combos

played at a much faster tempo than big band combos

sounded very different from big band combos

were never very popular with many people

Correct answer:

sounded very different from big band combos

Explanation:

The passage actually gives very little information on what "honky-tonk and boogie-woogie combos" actually sounded like. It does mention they wanted to play "faster and louder" on their guitars, which they also wanted to be "cheaper, sturdier, and better intonated," but larger perspectives on the music are difficult to infer. What is clear is that "big bands were antiquated" after World War II, and that "honky-tonk and boogie-woogie combos" filled their space, indicating the music was quite different.

Example Question #2 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

A Short History of the Electric Guitar, by Will Floyd

Any modern musical performance is almost impossible to countenance without the presence of an electric guitar. Most of the time it is a solid-body electric guitar, and while they seem ubiquitous and obvious now, that was not always the case. First invented in the early 1930s, the first electric guitar simply amplified existing guitars. No one thought of it as a new instrument, but merely a way to put a microphone inside of the guitar. Through the use of electronic pickups that went straight to an amplifier, the sound of the guitar could be broadcast over loud jazz bands with drums and horns. At the time, most everyone believed an electric guitar still had to look like an acoustic guitar, and all models featured a hollow body acoustic shape that would resonate with the sound of the guitar strings. In all actuality, the only necessity for an electric guitar is an electric pickup to capture their small vibrations. An electric guitar does not, and never did, need a space to resonate the sound of the strings. Instead, it could be a simple block, with the fret-board, strings, and a pick up attached to a piece of lumber. This method is exactly what the famous guitar player and maker Les Paul did with his “Log,” but Les Paul's “Log” revealed some of the biases against a solid-body guitar. While the guitar was just one solid piece of wood, Paul would attach two wings to it that made the guitar look like a hollow body.

Despite Les Paul’s innovations, few manufacturers made a marketable solid-body guitar. Rickenbacker and Bigsby were both companies that made limited productions of solid-body electric guitars. Leo Fender was the first luthier to make a popular, mass-market electric solid-body guitar. Leo Fender started his career by working on radios and other small electronic devices, but developed an interest in building guitars. Immediately after World War II, big bands were considered antiquated, and small honky-tonk and boogie-woogie combos wanted cheaper, sturdier, and better intonated guitars, that they could play faster and louder. Leo Fender obliged with his Esquire guitar. Looking completely unlike any guitar made before, and being extremely thin, with no resonating panels, Fender’s guitar was revolutionary. While Fender continued to tweak it through the years, one thing remains the same: the general shape of the guitar. Renamed first the Broadcaster, then the more famous Telecaster, the silhouette of Fender’s Esquire is still a popular choice among musicians today.

It can be inferred from the passage that the Bigsby and Rickenbacker companies __________.

Possible Answers:

took many of their ideas from Leo Fender's innovations

helped inspire the creation of Les Paul's "Log" guitar

were not highly innovative guitar manufacturers

never had any success in manufacturing guitars

were never as successful as Fender in marketing their guitars

Correct answer:

were never as successful as Fender in marketing their guitars

Explanation:

The Bigsby and Rickenbacker companies are only mentioned in one sentence in the entire passage, where it is noted they too made a small run of electric solid-body guitars. From this, it can be inferred that they had some success, but never achieved anywhere near the level of Leo Fender's company.

Example Question #3 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

Baseball, Then and Now, by Will Floyd

The twenty-first-century baseball fan would hardly recognize the nineteenth-century version of the national pastime. The massive stadiums, pristine uniforms, and even most articles of equipment integral to the modern game were all unfamiliar to players in the late-nineteenth-century.

The current number of balls and strikes that each batter is allowed was not settled until the 1890s. Fielding gloves were not utilized until the 1880s. Players could even call for a high or low pitch as recently as 1900. The biggest misconception about nineteenth-century baseball from a modern point-of-view is assuming all pitching was done the way it is now. In fact, until 1893 pitchers operated out of a box a mere 45 feet away. The short distance was no problem, as the original rules for pitching required an underhand motion. As athletes have done for centuries, pitchers of the nineteenth century figured out ways to throw harder and circumvent the rules. Eventually, pitchers were taking a running start from 45 feet away and throwing overhand. Baseball players and administrators quickly realized that such pitching was a safety hazard at 45 feet, and it creates a tedious game in which no one could score. Baseball pushed the pitcher back to sixty feet and six inches, introduced the pitcher’s mound, and the slab the pitcher must be rooted to, pushing baseball closer to its modern form. These changes in baseball’s early years made the game the treasured sport it is today.

It can be inferred from the passage that nineteenth-century sports __________.

Possible Answers:

largely looked like the modern versions of the games

were still developing their rules and traditions

were kept largely the same in terms of rules

were played in massive stadiums

had all the modern equipment available today to players

Correct answer:

were still developing their rules and traditions

Explanation:

The main point of the passage is that nineteenth century baseball is nothing like the modern game. In particular, the author stresses the many rules changes baseball underwent, which indicates that nineteenth-century sports "were still developing their rules and traditions."

Example Question #4 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

Unseen Characters by Will Floyd

Many plays, films, and television shows use the storytelling device of the unseen character. As the name implies, this trope involves a character the audience never directly encounters, but instead only hears about through the words of other characters. A common assumption is that a character that never speaks or is visible to the viewers of a play or film would only be a minor element, left to be the butt of jokes or as a simple way to add depth to a major character. In fact, unseen characters are frequently quite important, and further the plot because of their absence. The most notable instance of such a character is “Godot,” in Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot.” The two main characters in the play, Vladimir and Estragon, sit patiently by a tree, expecting Godot to come by at any moment. Three other characters, Lucky, Pozzo, and a boy, all speak to Vladimir and Estragon, with Godot never alighting on the stage. Nonetheless, Godot’s machinations in making the men wait—along with his supposed intentions—drive the play’s narrative. Godot, never seen or heard from directly, becomes the largest force in the created world of the play. This use of an unseen character creates an added mystery and increases the tension between the two main characters. Beckett uses the unseen character not as a gimmick or cheap ploy, but instead as the central focus of his play.

It can be inferred from the passage that Samuel Beckett __________.

Possible Answers:

was a literary nobody with no appreciable skill

did not use unseen characters well

made Godot famous

was an author who primarily wrote in French

was a playwright who used interesting literary devices

Correct answer:

was a playwright who used interesting literary devices

Explanation:

The only thing directly mentioned by the author about Samuel Beckett is that he was the author of "Waiting for Godot," which is held up as being a model for using an unseen character effectively. This indicates that all that can be truly inferred about Beckett is that as a playwright he "used interesting literary devices."

Example Question #5 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

"Developments in Understanding Ancient Greek Art" by Will Floyd

Most people imagine stark white temples and plain marble statues as the ideal of ancient Greek art. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the ancient Greeks lavished their statues, sculptures, and buildings with bright colors. The common misconception of plainly adorned Hellenic art can be blamed on the ancient Greeks’ biggest proponents in history. Enlightenment-era classicists eagerly visited ancient ruins in the eighteenth century and saw artifacts that had been weathered to plain white stone through decades of neglect. By the time nineteenth-century archaeologists found proof that the Parthenon and images of the Gods were meant to be in vivid hues, eminent scholars in Europe refused to countenance that pure white marble was not antiquity’s aesthetic paradigm. Widespread acknowledgement of the ancient Greeks’ adoration of bright colors only came in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as scientific tests proved ancient statuary and buildings had once been covered in polychrome paint.

It can be inferred from the passage that __________.

Possible Answers:

all ancient cultures painted their statues bright colors

the ancient Greeks have influenced many subsequent cultures with their art

all subsequent cultures rejected Greek styles

only ancient Greeks built marble statues

no cultures appreciated polychrome paint

Correct answer:

the ancient Greeks have influenced many subsequent cultures with their art

Explanation:

The passage details an argument about Greek art that has lasted centuries. This strongly indicates that the Greeks were highly influential among subsequent cultures. Another helpful strategy for this question is to be extremely wary of words like "always," "only," "never," or "all."

Example Question #6 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

"The Chemistry of Cooking" by Will Floyd

Molecular gastronomy is a new take on cooking that has spread like wildfire through the culinary world in the last few decades. At its core, molecular gastronomy seeks to redefine and reimagine how food is cooked in restaurant kitchens, using technology, chemistry, and physics to transform pedestrian dishes into surprising forms and textures. These techniques create mystifying dining experiences, while using intimately familiar flavors. Chefs who use molecular gastronomy do not wish merely to be chemists or engineers, but are chefs above all else. To create a special dining experience, the chef begins first and foremost with the dish they wish to serve. Tools like an anti-griddle, a flat top that instantly freezes anything that touches it, or maltodextrin, an additive that can turn liquids into powder, are not there simply to play with the food. A molecular gastronomist will first think of the dish they want to serve, like fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Next, they will find a way to get the same flavors and textures in a unique way. The chicken might not be fried, but go through a process that will give it a crispy skin and juicy meat while never broaching hot oil. The mashed potatoes could become a light sauce, and then be put on an anti-griddle to give a new look, texture, and temperature. While the diner will have something that might look like a dessert or a soup, in actuality what they are having is a homestyle dish that they remember from childhood. This sense of familiarity is the ultimate goal of any chef utilizing molecular gastronomy.

It can be inferred from the passage that fried chicken and mashed potatoes __________.

Possible Answers:

are unfamiliar to many diners

are not able to be transformed in any way

are never cooked by chefs

are a popular homestyle dish

are not well-loved by diners

Correct answer:

are a popular homestyle dish

Explanation:

The point of bringing up fried chicken and mashed potatoes is so that the author can demonstrate how molecular gastronomy plays with a diner's expectations. A key component of these expectations is that the dish may look unfamiliar, but have the taste of "a homestyle dish that they remember from childhood."

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences In Humanities Passages

"Poetry and Philosophy" by Justin Bailey

As the logical positivism rose to ascendancy, poetic language was increasingly seen as merely emotive. Wittgenstein’s influential Tractatus argued that only language corresponding to observable states of affairs in the world was meaningful, thus ruling out the value of imaginative language in saying anything about the world. Poetry’s contribution was rather that it showed what could not be said, a layer of reality which Wittgenstein called the “mystical.” Despite Wittgenstein’s interest in the mystical value of poetry, his successors abandoned the mystical as a meaningful category, exiling poetry in a sort of no man’s land where its only power to move came through the empathy of shared feeling.

Yet some thinkers, like Martin Heidegger, reacted strongly to the pretensions of an instrumental theory of knowledge to make sense of the world. Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur all gave central value to poetry in their philosophical method; signifying a growing sense among continental thinkers that poetic knowing was an important key to recovering some vital way of talking about and experiencing the world that had been lost.

It can be inferred from the passage that __________.

Possible Answers:

poetry's power to move through empathetic feeling signifies that its claims about the world are true

some of Wittgenstein's successors used his work to exclude something that was important to Wittgenstein

philosophers agree that instrumental theories of knowledge are sufficient in understanding the world

Heidegger's complaint was that philosophers were taking poetic language too seriously in their philosophical method

most positivists followed Wittgenstein in arguing for poetic knowledge as a meaningful category in philosophy

Correct answer:

some of Wittgenstein's successors used his work to exclude something that was important to Wittgenstein

Explanation:

This answer is taken from the final sentence of the first paragraph. Wittgenstein wanted to make room for poetry in his category of the mystical, but his successors simply abandoned it, citing his work.

Example Question #7 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

Adapted from "Ramblings in Cheapside" by Samuel Butler (1890)

Walking the other day in Cheapside I saw some turtles in Mr. Sweeting’s window, and was tempted to stay and look at them. As I did so I was struck not more by the defenses with which they were hedged about, than by the fatuousness of trying to hedge that in at all which, if hedged thoroughly, must die of its own defensefulness. The holes for the head and feet through which the turtle leaks out, as it were, on to the exterior world, and through which it again absorbs the exterior world into itself—"catching on” through them to things that are thus both turtle and not turtle at one and the same time—these holes stultify the armor, and show it to have been designed by a creature with more of faithfulness to a fixed idea, and hence one-sidedness, than of that quick sense of relative importance and their changes, which is the main factor of good living.

The turtle obviously had no sense of proportion; it differed so widely from myself that I could not comprehend it; and as this word occurred to me, it occurred also that until my body comprehended its body in a physical material sense, neither would my mind be able to comprehend its mind with any thoroughness. For unity of mind can only be consummated by unity of body; everything, therefore, must be in some respects both knave and fool to all that which has not eaten it, or by which it has not been eaten. As long as the turtle was in the window and I in the street outside, there was no chance of our comprehending one another.

What can be known from the passage about Cheapside?

Possible Answers:

It has a commercial section with various stores.

The stores are markedly inexpensive.

It is a disreputable place, where no one ever goes.

Many turtles live there.

Only pet stores exist there.

Correct answer:

It has a commercial section with various stores.

Explanation:

The only reference to Cheapside in the entire passage is in the first sentence, "Walking the other day in Cheapside I saw some turtles in Mr. Sweeting’s window." This indicates that Cheapside is a few things: a place in which one can walk around; an area with at least one shop; and a place that is somewhat familiar to the author's intended audience. The only answer choice that can be deduced from this information is that "it has a commercial section with many stores."

Example Question #8 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

"Technology of the Future" by Will Floyd

Technological revolutions rarely come in expected forms. Predictions of the future are usually found to be humorous in retrospect, as the theories put forward usually involve too much of the present. Typically, an author who imagines the future sees some small developments in the technology already in use, without countenancing a possible sudden change in how gadgets are made. Science fiction from before the personal computer’s rise tended to show computers as large machines only run by specialists. Before the development of tablets, small reading devices belonging to each person were hardly imagined. None of these now-strange conjectures on the future should be ridiculed. Even those researchers and scientists who are trying to create new breakthroughs in technology often have no idea of what their work will produce. The personal computer was initially divided into office models and home models, which were supposed to have different graphics, power, and performance specifics. In reality, people desired the office model in their home. Such adoptions happen all the time in the world of technology, with such disparate examples as the personal computer and the Model T automobile both changing future technology by becoming the most popular forms in the marketplace. Looking to product trends in the marketplace may allow us to predict future technological developments with more accuracy.

It can be inferred from the passage that "the Model T automobile" was __________.

Possible Answers:

an extremely popular model of automobile

a type of car that had very little impact on automobile manufacturing

built using an assembly line system of production

highly derivative of previous models of automobiles

a technological marvel with little practical usage

Correct answer:

an extremely popular model of automobile

Explanation:

The passage gives almost no details as to the specifics of "the Model T automobile." Instead, it only notes that the Model T became one of "the most popular forms in the marketplace." Thus, the only thing that can be concluded from the information given in the passage is that it was "an extremely popular form of automobile."

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