GMAT Verbal : Identifying Wording Gaps

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Identifying Wording Gaps

If a package isn’t scanned by the parcel company by 4:30pm, it will not be included for overnight delivery. James is responsible for shipping prototypes to a client, who has expressed that if they do not receive the prototypes - which were delayed by over a week because of production issues - by Thursday morning, the client will cancel its account with the company. Fortunately, James dropped off the prototypes at the parcel company at 4:00pm on Wednesday, so the company will not lose the client’s account.

Which of the following, it true, most justifies the reasoning above?

Possible Answers:

The client was satisfied by the company’s explanations of the production issues that delayed the prototypes.

Any parcel dropped off before the overnight shipping deadline will be scanned prior to the deadline.

James has proven to be trustworthy with expedited shipments to clients in the past.

The client does not currently have other vendors who can perform the same service as James’s company.

The prototypes being sent to the client are of reasonably high quality.

Correct answer:

Any parcel dropped off before the overnight shipping deadline will be scanned prior to the deadline.

Explanation:

An important gap in logic on this question exists between premises: we’re told that if a parcel isn’t SCANNED by 4:30, it will not be included for overnight delivery. And we’re told that if the prototypes in the package are not received by the next day, the client will cancel its account.  The concluding sentence says that because James DROPPED OFF the package by 4:00, ahead of the 4:30 SCANNING deadline, the company will not lose the account.

Now, notice the big gap here between “DROPPED OFF” and “SCANNED” - is it sufficient to say that because James dropped off the package it will definitely be scanned in time?  Dropped off and scanned are two different things. So the answer “Any parcel dropped off before the overnight shipping deadline will be scanned prior to the deadline” is important to connect those dots.

Recognize that the argument contains other gaps, too: the client wants the prototypes by the next morning, but does “scanned for overnight delivery” guarantee “received by morning?”  It does not, but no answer choices deal with that gap in logic.

 

 

Example Question #2 : Identifying Wording Gaps

Computer manufacturers, in an effort to increase sales, often include at no additional charge a number of utility software programs. Since these programs take care of tasks such as virus protection, disk defragmentation, and application updating, they are of considerable savings to the computer manufacturers as well.

The argument above would be most strengthened by which of the following, assuming that it is true?

Possible Answers:

Surveys indicate that free software packages are very important to consumers.

Even though computer manufacturers buy these utility programs in bulk, they are still a significant cost to the manufacturer.

Many anti-virus programs offer little, if any, real protection.

Disk defragmentation is an important routine task that should be performed at least once per month.

Computer viruses, disk fragmentation, and out-of-date applications are three major sources of warranty claims against computer manufacturers.

Correct answer:

Computer viruses, disk fragmentation, and out-of-date applications are three major sources of warranty claims against computer manufacturers.

Explanation:

The argument jumps from the idea that these utilities are included for sales reasons to suggesting that they save the computer manufacturer money. Something to link the function of these programs to savings is necessary -- and that is exactly what answer choice "Computer viruses, disk fragmentation, and out-of-date applications are three major sources of warranty claims against computer manufacturers." offers. It is the correct answer. Answer choice "Surveys indicate that free software packages are very important to consumers." may initially appear attractive because of the original statement that free software is included to drive sales, but the argument focuses on cost savings to the manufacturer. Answer choices "Many anti-virus programs offer little, if any, real protection." and "Disk defragmentation is an important routine task that should be performed at least once per month." offer interesting but irrelevant information. Answer choice "Even though computer manufacturers buy these utility programs in bulk, they are still a significant cost to the manufacturer." would, if anything, weaken the argument.

Example Question #3 : Identifying Wording Gaps

Type 1a supernovae, caused by the detonation of matter accreted onto white dwarf stars, explode with a highly predictable brightness. Since the brightness of these explosions fades over distance in a highly predictable way, scientists have long used images measuring the brightness of type 1a supernovae to determine the distance to distant galaxies.

Which of the following discoveries, if true, would most jeopardize scientists' reliance on images of type 1a supernovae as tools for measuring distances to distant galaxies?

Possible Answers:

Models explaining the causes of type 1a supernovae are altered to include an updated understanding of the role played by carbon fusion.

Some supernovae exhibit very unusual spectral classifications and changes in brightness, and do not fit into the existing categories.

A new telescope is able to measure the brightness of several thousand type 1a supernovae with an unprecedented level of precision.

Large clouds of interstellar dust and ionized hydrogen can absorb the light emitted by type 1a supernovae.

Type 2 supernovae are discovered to be even more dramatically variable in their brightness than previously thought.

Correct answer:

Large clouds of interstellar dust and ionized hydrogen can absorb the light emitted by type 1a supernovae.

Explanation:

In this Weaken question, the conclusion is that type 1a supernovae are an effective way of measuring distances. The reason is that they have a predictable brightness that fades over distance in a predictable way. Observing and measuring this brightness then allows the distance to be reconstructed. If answer choice "Large clouds of interstellar dust and ionized hydrogen can absorb the light emitted by type 1a supernovae.", the correct answer, were true, however, external factors could create significant variations in the way that the light is observed from Earth, and the use of the brightness observations to gauge distance would seem to be unreliable. Answer choices "Type 2 supernovae are discovered to be even more dramatically variable in their brightness than previously thought." and "Some supernovae exhibit very unusual spectral classifications and changes in brightness, and do not fit into the existing categories." talk about other sorts of supernovae which are not the type we are considering and are, therefore, out of scope. Answer choice "Models explaining the causes of type 1a supernovae are altered to include an updated understanding of the role played by carbon fusion." discusses the model explaining how the supernova works but says nothing about modifying the predictions of how bright the explosion is. Answer choice "A new telescope is able to measure the brightness of several thousand type 1a supernovae with an unprecedented level of precision." does not say anything about the results of the telescope and therefore has no effect on the assumption.

Example Question #4 : Identifying Wording Gaps

Oil executive: While it is true that the number of reported oil spills per year has increased steadily over the last three decades, this is much more a function of how easy it is to detect small oil spills than of an increase in frequency of oil spills overall. In the past the only spills reported were those large enough to be detected by environmentalists and journalists. Nowadays analytics will report to the authorities even the smallest fissures in pipelines and tankers.

Which of the following, if true, best supports the executive’s argument?

Possible Answers:

The number of large and medium oil spills has remained roughly constant over the last three decades.

The cost required to clean up the average oil spill has decreased by over 20% over the last three decades.

Because of improved logistics, the average distance a barrel of oil travels to its destination has decreased by 40% over the last three decades.

The size of the average oil spill has decreased over the last three decades.

The average oil company spends nearly twice as much today on anti-spill equipment as it spent three decades ago.

 

 

 


Correct answer:

The number of large and medium oil spills has remained roughly constant over the last three decades.

Explanation:

In this strengthen question, take careful note of the oil executive's conclusion, which is that the increase in reported oil spills (he concedes this is a fact) has occurred because it is easier to detect small oil spills, not because there are more oil spills. In other words, the total number of oil spills is the same, and the increased number of reports of them is due to the more-frequent reporting of small spills.

Note how correct answer "The number of large and medium oil spills has remained roughly constant over the last three decades." directly strengthens that: if you know (from the argument) that there are more reported spills overall, and you know (from choice "The number of large and medium oil spills has remained roughly constant over the last three decades.") that the number of large and medium spills is unchanged, then the increase has to have come from the reporting of those small spills. "The number of large and medium oil spills has remained roughly constant over the last three decades." limits the increase to the smaller spills, and therefore furthers the executive's argument.

Note that with choice "The size of the average oil spill has decreased over the last three decades.", the conclusion isn't that there are more small oil spills total but that there have been more reported. So the fact that the average spill is smaller doesn't directly relate to the executive's argument. Furthermore, even if the average reported spill were smaller, that doesn't necessarily mean that there are more small spills being reported - it could just be that each of the larger and medium spills reported have been smaller (maybe they were better-controlled than in the past, for example).

Choice "Because of improved logistics, the average distance a barrel of oil travels to its destination has decreased by 40% over the last three decades." might seem to suggest a reason that there are fewer spills (there is less time/space that each barrel spends in transit) but this misses the general purpose of the argument, which relates to the detection of small spills. The argument isn't that there are fewer transportation-related spills, but that the increase in reported spills comes primarily from the detection of smaller spills.

Choices "The cost required to clean up the average oil spill has decreased by over 20% over the last three decades." and "The average oil company spends nearly twice as much today on anti-spill equipment as it spent three decades ago." each attempt to use cost as proxy for safety - "The cost required to clean up the average oil spill has decreased by over 20% over the last three decades." wants you to think that because the cost of cleanup is down, the spills must be less frequent or smaller, but that's not necessarily the reason. Perhaps cleanup technology has just gotten less expensive. Similarly "The average oil company spends nearly twice as much today on anti-spill equipment as it spent three decades ago." wants you to think that because companies are spending more to prevent spills, spills have decreased or stayed the same. But that's not necessarily the case: what if inflation is higher and the companies are spending less in "real" terms and more nominally because of the currency, for example?

Only choice "The number of large and medium oil spills has remained roughly constant over the last three decades.", which is correct, directly relates to the detection of small spills.

Example Question #5 : Identifying Wording Gaps

Senator: Between 1950 and present, the number of women diagnosed with postpartum depression each year in the country of Heranita has increased by a factor of ten. We must improve our systems for supporting women after childbirth to stem this increase in the number of new mothers experiencing postpartum depression.

Which of the following, if true, would most call the argument above into question?

Possible Answers:

Until 1970, most doctors were not specific in their diagnoses but instead grouped all types of depression together.

Rates of postpartum depression are not included in official government statistics.

The amount of spending on women’s health has increased since 1950.

It is likely that cases of postpartum depression are underreported in Heranita.

The minimum threshold of symptoms women experience before they can be diagnosed has increased since 1950.

Correct answer:

Until 1970, most doctors were not specific in their diagnoses but instead grouped all types of depression together.

Explanation:

Whenever you are asked for an answer choice that will weaken a given argument or conclusion, remember that you should first seek to understand the argument and then you should look to find the gap between the premises of the argument and its conclusion.

You are told here that since 1950 the number of women diagnosed with postpartum depression in Heranita has increased. Because of this, the advocate suggests that the country improve the women's health care system so that women do not have to experience the symptoms of postpartum depression. Already you should see that there are a few gaps here - what if women have symptoms but aren't diagnosed? What differentiates postpartum depression from regular depression?

Only "Until 1970, most doctors were not specific in their diagnoses but instead grouped all types of depression together." addresses one of those gaps. If cases of postpartum depression were once described under the general umbrella of "depression", then it is impossible to know if postpartum depression is in fact on the rise.

Among the other answers, "The amount of spending on women’s health has increased since 1950." can be eliminated since just because women's health has increased, there is no telling whether spending to prevent postpartum depression has increased. "Rates of postpartum depression are not included in official government statistics." can be eliminated since another agency outside the government might keep track of rates of postpartum depression so this doesn't affect the argument. "The minimum threshold of symptoms women experience before they can be diagnosed has increased since 1950." can be eliminated since just because the minimum severity of symptoms required for diagnosis has increased doesn't mean that the rate has not increased. "It is likely that cases of postpartum depression are underreported in Heranita." can be eliminated because it would in fact strengthen the argument posed.

Example Question #6 : Identifying Wording Gaps

Ecological studies have shown that the current landfill that serves Sturgeon County is responsible for the vast majority of the county's groundwater pollution problem.  Surprisingly, however, Sturgeon County's leading environmentalists support a ballot initiative that will invest in the expansion of the current landfill, as opposed to another initiative that will invest the same amount of money in creating a new landfill that would have zero impact on the county's groundwater.

Which of the following, if true, serves as the best justification for the environmentalists' position?

Possible Answers:

Polling data indicates that the new landfill proposal is unlikely to pass without support from prominent environmental activists.  

Groundwater pollution is less of a concern in Sturgeon County than is air pollution from the county's coal-fired power plants.

Several recent ecological studies suggest that the rate of pollution from the current landfill is lower than had initially been reported.

The site of the proposed new landfill is privately-owned land that the county would have to purchase during a period of high real estate values.

Without continued operation and maintenance, the current landfill's groundwater pollution rate would more than double. 

 

 

 


Correct answer:

Without continued operation and maintenance, the current landfill's groundwater pollution rate would more than double. 

Explanation:

Your goal in this "Explain the Paradox" question is to find a reason why environmentalists would support the expansion of a landfill that comes with groundwater pollution problems over the construction of a new landfill that would come with no groundwater pollution problems. As you anticipate what you would want to see from a correct answer, you might think about:

-What if the new landfill doesn't have groundwater pollution problems, but instead creates other pollution problems?

-What is leaving the old landfill would create even bigger problems than staying there?

Choice "Without continued operation and maintenance, the current landfill's groundwater pollution rate would more than double. " works well with the second option: if leaving the current landfill would create a much bigger environmental problem than staying there would, that is a reason that those who care about the environment would vote to stay. Choice "Without continued operation and maintenance, the current landfill's groundwater pollution rate would more than double. " is correct.

Choices "Several recent ecological studies suggest that the rate of pollution from the current landfill is lower than had initially been reported." and "Groundwater pollution is less of a concern in Sturgeon County than is air pollution from the county's coal-fired power plants." may be tempting, but each comes with a significant flaw. Note that "Several recent ecological studies suggest that the rate of pollution from the current landfill is lower than had initially been reported.", while reducing the impact of the pollution problem with the current landfill, still leaves the ballot proposals as a comparison between "some pollution" and "no pollution," so you still don't have a reason that the environmentalists would pick "some" when "none" is an option. And while choice "Groundwater pollution is less of a concern in Sturgeon County than is air pollution from the county's coal-fired power plants." may seem to hit the standard of "what about other types of pollution other than just groundwater?" note that the argument doesn't provide any reason to suspect that the new landfill would create more air pollution. With all known information, it's still a comparison between "some pollution" and "no pollution."

Choice "Polling data indicates that the new landfill proposal is unlikely to pass without support from prominent environmental activists.  " is irrelevant - what the polls suggest is no reason for the environmentalists to choose pollution over no pollution. And choice "The site of the proposed new landfill is privately-owned land that the county would have to purchase during a period of high real estate values." is carefully invalidated by the phrase "same amount" in the argument - if each plan costs the same amount, then the expense of the land for the new landfill isn't a reason to not choose it.

Example Question #7 : Identifying Wording Gaps

Research studies on albatrosses and other soaring birds have found that the least intrusive geolocation tag placement, defined as the placement that minimizes interference with movement, is close to the center of the bird's back. While the placement increases drag when the birds dive into the water, it does not affect the birds’ ability to stay aloft for days at a time because the feathers of the back aren’t used for lift during soaring. However, the majority of studies on birds in general indicate that the least intrusive geolocation tag placement is under the tailfeathers, a placement that would cause great instability during flight but that doesn’t interfere with underwater movement

Which of the following, if true, most helps to explain the exception noted above?

Possible Answers:

Albatrosses tend to expend less energy than other birds while soaring because of their large wingspan.

Geolocation tagging practices have changed over time to include smaller devices.

Albatrosses are much larger than other soaring birds, so geolocation tags make up less of their total body weight.

Soaring doesn’t involve the tailfeathers, so geotag placement there will not affect movement.

The majority of studies were done on penguins, which don’t fly but do spend much of their time hunting underwater.

Correct answer:

The majority of studies were done on penguins, which don’t fly but do spend much of their time hunting underwater.

Explanation:

In this “explain the paradox” question, you are told that for albatrosses, placing geolocation tags in the middle of the back of the bird interferes less with bird movement than does placing geolocation tags under the tail feathers. However most studies on birds in general show the opposite to be true. In looking to resolve this paradox, you should ask yourself - what makes albatrosses and soaring birds special compared to other birds studied?

Choice "Albatrosses are much larger than other soaring birds, so geolocation tags make up less of their total body weight." makes a distinction between albatrosses and other soaring birds. Since both albatrosses and soaring birds are addressed together, this doesn’t given information as to why these birds are more affected by one geolocation tag placement and other birds are more affected by another. Eliminate "Albatrosses are much larger than other soaring birds, so geolocation tags make up less of their total body weight.".

Choice "Geolocation tagging practices have changed over time to include smaller devices." can be eliminated because it deals with change over time - something that isn’t addressed within the question. All the studies referenced could have been in the last year or they could have been over the course of 20 years. There’s no way of knowing, so there’s no way of knowing whether this would have an affect on placement.

If choice "Soaring doesn’t involve the tailfeathers, so geotag placement there will not affect movement." was true, then soaring birds would be less affected by placing the geolocation tags than would other flying birds, not more.

Choice "Albatrosses tend to expend less energy than other birds while soaring because of their large wingspan." can also be eliminated. The question deals with relative interference with movement, not the absolute amount of energy expended.

Choice "The majority of studies were done on penguins, which don’t fly but do spend much of their time hunting underwater." is correct. You are told that geolocation tags can affect drag (which occurs in the water) and lift (which occurs in the air). Since you are told that penguins can’t fly but that they do swim, you can conclude that only drag matters, so if the majority of studies were done on penguins, then the majority of studies would say that the ideal placement is under the tailfeathers.

Example Question #8 : Identifying Wording Gaps

In the United States, more Gala apples are produced than are any other type of apple. However, of apple trees sold at commercial nurseries in the US, more Granny Smith trees are sold than are any other type of apple tree, despite the fact that Granny Smith trees produce no more or fewer apples per year than do any other type of tree.

Which of the following, if true, would best resolve the apparent paradox presented above?

Possible Answers:

Because the varieties are so similar, many nurseries list sales of both Gala and Pink Lady apple trees as Gala apple tree sales.

Gala apple stems are often “grafted” onto Granny Smith tree trunks after purchase so that the trees produce Gala apples rather than Granny Smith ones.

Many Granny Smith apples are produced for decorative rather than culinary purposes, especially in the northeastern United States.

Many Gala apple trees die before they reach apple producing maturity because their stems are not as hardy as those of Granny Smith apple trees.

There is no difference between the average spoilage time of an apple coming from a Gala tree and one coming from a Granny Smith tree.

Correct answer:

Gala apple stems are often “grafted” onto Granny Smith tree trunks after purchase so that the trees produce Gala apples rather than Granny Smith ones.

Explanation:

For Explain the Paradox questions, remember that you need to find an answer that bridges the gap between two seemingly contradictory facts by explaining why both can be true. Don't worry about anticipating the correct answer if you don't automatically see it - just look for the gap that needs to be bridged and find an answer choice that does so.

The argument states that even though more Gala apples are produced than any other apple, more Granny Smith apple trees are sold each year. You are looking for an answer that would result in more Granny Smith trees being sold but still ensure that production of Gala apples was greater than that of any other tree. The only answer that allows for this is "Gala apple stems are often “grafted” onto Granny Smith tree trunks after purchase so that the trees produce Gala apples rather than Granny Smith ones.". If Gala tree stems are grafted onto Granny Smith trunks, so that the trees produce Gala apples rather than Granny Smith ones, that means that at least some of the Granny Smith trees being sold are actually used to produce Gala apples. Choice "Gala apple stems are often “grafted” onto Granny Smith tree trunks after purchase so that the trees produce Gala apples rather than Granny Smith ones." is correct.

Among the other answers, choice "Many Granny Smith apples are produced for decorative rather than culinary purposes, especially in the northeastern United States." can be eliminated because the use of the apple isn't important, just whether or not it's produced. Choices "Many Gala apple trees die before they reach apple producing maturity because their stems are not as hardy as those of Granny Smith apple trees." and "Because the varieties are so similar, many nurseries list sales of both Gala and Pink Lady apple trees as Gala apple tree sales." would actually go counter to what you are trying to accomplish. If "Many Gala apple trees die before they reach apple producing maturity because their stems are not as hardy as those of Granny Smith apple trees." is true, then in order to produce enough apples farmers would have to purchase more Gala trees rather than fewer. Similarly, if "Because the varieties are so similar, many nurseries list sales of both Gala and Pink Lady apple trees as Gala apple tree sales." is true then that means that the number of Gala trees sold is actually underreported, creating a larger contradiction than was previously indicated. Choice "There is no difference between the average spoilage time of an apple coming from a Gala tree and one coming from a Granny Smith tree." can also be eliminated. Spoilage time can only affect the number of apples sold (since some will not make it to market) NOT the number of apples produced, which is what the question is looking for.

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