GMAT Verbal : Specific Questions Featuring the Except Structure

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

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Example Question #931 : Lsat Reading Comprehension

In 2004, Jared Diamond published Collapse, a rigorous analysis of why certain ancient societies have perished. His groundbreaking study explored the environmental and historical factors that contributed to the demise of the “Viking colonies” of Greenland, the Polynesians of Easter Island, and the Anasazi of the American southwest. Diamond’s core thesis was that human recklessness and lack of foresight were the major factors in precipitating the ends of these societies. 

Diamond’s work was among the first to seek out the commonalities between deforestation in Easter Island and resource depletion in ancient Greenland. Because he posited that human agency played a key role in determining whether cultures disintegrate or thrive, his message was viewed by many prominent environmental activists as a call to action – societies can remain vibrant providing they make prudent decisions regarding resource management.

However, many critics have claimed that Diamond’s explanations for the extinctions of ancient societies were simplistic, and placed undue blame on the regions’ inhabitants. For example, Terry Hunt, an archaeologist at the University of Hawaii, has claimed that the Polynesian deforestation, which Diamond attributed to the recklessness of the native peoples, was actually caused by predatory rats. Moreover, Hunt has noted that Diamond overlooked the role that European disease played in decimating native populations. If these other factors are taken into account, the issue of blame becomes a far more complex one and some of Diamond’s positions may need to be reconsidered.

According to the passage, which of the following is used by Diamond as a piece of evidence for his core thesis?

Possible Answers:

The fact that deforestation resulted from animal behavior

The fact that cultures were unable to accurately predict the future

The fact that there was proper resource management

The fact that diseases were introduced by Europeans

The fact that there was a natural depletion of food sources

Correct answer:

The fact that cultures were unable to accurately predict the future

Explanation:

In this specific style question, you need to go back to the passage and confirm which one of these five facts was used to support Diamond’s position. Answer choices "The fact that diseases were introduced by Europeans" and "The fact that deforestation resulted from animal behavior" are two things that are used by Hunt to support his position – they were used to undermine Diamond’s core thesis so these are both incorrect. "The fact that there was proper resource management" and "The fact that there was a natural depletion of food sources" also have it backwards. Diamond believed that it was human behavior – “human recklessness” and “lack of foresight” – that led to the extinction of these societies. Proper resource management and a natural depletion of food sources would not support this thesis. "The fact that cultures were unable to accurately predict the future" matches exactly the reason given by Diamond in the last sentence of the first paragraph: “a lack of foresight”. “Foresight” is defined as: “the ability to predict or the action of predicting what will happen or be needed in the future.” So a “lack of foresight” is synonymous with an “inability to accurately predict the future.” Remember that the primary difficulty in specific style questions is wordplay. The correct answer will often use a synonymous, but difficult to recognize, form of what is stated in the passage and the incorrect answer choices will use similar but inaccurate descriptions of what you read. The correct answer is "The fact that cultures were unable to accurately predict the future".

 

 

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