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

Example Question #11 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

"History and Myth" by Will Floyd

Popular ideas about historical characters are often quite fallacious. In reality, Napoleon Bonaparte was not short, but a perfectly average size for his time. Paul Revere did not make a solo midnight ride to warn the colonial militia that the British were coming. Such a dearth of information exists about the lives of figures like Robin Hood, Johnny Appleseed, and John Henry that scholars wonder if they even existed. Despite scholarly concern and arguments, these popular characters and myths continue to form a large part of the common historical imagination.

Recently, some historians have begun to study these myths and legends. No matter how whimsical or ungrounded such stories are, these legends hold a key to how people interpret history. Colleagues seeking to rebut such studies have derided those scholars who are analyzing myths. The more skeptical historians accuse the historians who analyze myths and legends as promoting conspiracy theories and providing cover to people with fringe beliefs. In response, the scholars studying the apocryphal stories claim that they are actually helping to dispel such marginal ideas. By understanding why odd stories and fables get constructed, these new historians think that they can better pursue their goal of understanding the past in order to better navigate the future. They also think that by understanding how fallacious myths and legends develop may help fewer to arise in the first place.

It can be inferred from the passage that Napoleon Bonaparte __________.

Possible Answers:

was the most important leader in Europe's history

was a wholly apocryphal figure

actually rode to warn the colonial militia

is a less authentic figure than Robin Hood, Johnny Appleseed, and John Henry

was a major historical figure

Correct answer:

was a major historical figure

Explanation:

The question only asks what can be inferred from the passage. Only one sentence mentions Napoleon Bonaparte, noting he "was not short, but a perfectly average size for his time." The other sentences mentioning erroneous historical assumptions give some other clues, particularly that Napoleon Bonaparte was a historical figure of more certain authenticity than Robin Hood, Johnny Appleseed, and John Henry. The reference in the passage does make it possible to infer that Napoleon Bonaparte was an important figure in history.

Example Question #41 : Reading Comprehension

"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.

"The created world of the play" mentioned in the passage refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

the offstage place where an unseen character resides

the physical script of Waiting for Godot

the place where Vladimir and Estragon believe Godot is

the environment provided by the play's author

the set used in a staging of Waiting for Godot

Correct answer:

the environment provided by the play's author

Explanation:

The "created world of the play" is used to describe a place where Godot is "the largest force." As it is Godot's "machinations" driving this, and Godot is a fictional character, then the correct answer must refer to the fictional universe in which the play takes place, provided by the play's author.

Example Question #13 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

"Fact and Representation" by Will Floyd

Professional wrestling is frequently criticized because of its unreality. For the wrestlers, promoters, and fans who love professional wrestling, the very fact that professional wrestling is “fake” is central to their love of wrestling. This love finds its home in the concept of “kayfabe.” Kayfabe is the fabricated world of wrestling, covering every element of its storytelling, from its outlandish characters to its bitter feuds, even to the specific politics about which wrestler will become champion.

Throughout the twentieth century, kayfabe was a closely guarded secret held only by those who were in the know about a wrestling company. Wrestlers could not appear out of character at any moment they were in public, for fear this revelation would give away the secrets of the wrestling promotion. A "good guy" wrestler could never even socialize with a "bad guy" wrestler, for fear that fans would see enemies together. While still quite fake, this strict adherence to the created world issued an air of believability for wrestling’s biggest fans. In recent years, wrestling’s curtain of believability has been torn apart, as the internet has allowed many personal details about wrestlers to come to light. Nonetheless, many wrestling fans still only refer to their heroes by their created names, understanding them through their invented personalities.

The "bitter feuds" underlined in the passage refer to __________.

Possible Answers:

the rivalry between wrestling fans

the rivalry between wrestling promotions

an aspect of "kayfabe"

the perspective of wrestling fans to wrestling's critics

the stance wrestling takes towards mainstream culture

Correct answer:

an aspect of "kayfabe"

Explanation:

The phrase "bitter feuds" is used in a list with "outlandish characters" and "specific politics" around championships. These are all mentioned as a component of wrestling's "storytelling," which the author describes as the basis of "kayfabe."

Example Question #11 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

"Fact and Representation" by Will Floyd

Professional wrestling is frequently criticized because of its unreality. For the wrestlers, promoters, and fans who love professional wrestling, the very fact that professional wrestling is “fake” is central to their love of wrestling. This love finds its home in the concept of “kayfabe.” Kayfabe is the fabricated world of wrestling, covering every element of its storytelling, from its outlandish characters to its bitter feuds, even to the specific politics about which wrestler will become champion.

Throughout the twentieth century, kayfabe was a closely guarded secret held only by those who were in the know about a wrestling company. Wrestlers could not appear out of character at any moment they were in public, for fear this revelation would give away the secrets of the wrestling promotion. A "good guy" wrestler could never even socialize with a "bad guy" wrestler, for fear that fans would see enemies together. While still quite fake, this strict adherence to the created world issued an air of believability for wrestling’s biggest fans. In recent years, wrestling’s curtain of believability has been torn apart, as the internet has allowed many personal details about wrestlers to come to light. Nonetheless, many wrestling fans still only refer to their heroes by their created names, understanding them through their invented personalities.

It can be inferred from the passage that wrestling fans __________.

Possible Answers:

like all professional wrestlers equally

strongly dislike people who are not wrestling fans

prefer to discuss wrestling under the terms of its created world

do not fully appreciate the role of "kayfabe"

do not use the internet to learn about wrestling

Correct answer:

prefer to discuss wrestling under the terms of its created world

Explanation:

The author only refers to wrestling fans in the context of their approach to kayfabe. The author never mentions what wrestling fans think of wrestlers or the promotions outside of this context. The only thing that can be deduced about wrestling fans from the passage is that fans still discuss wrestling under the terms of the created world.

Example Question #304 : Comprehension

"A Short History of Recent Zoos" by Will Floyd

Throughout the twentieth century, zoos underwent large-scale transformations. Before World War I, zoos were small parts of larger municipal parks, and featured sparse cages with little room for their inhabitants. This model held sway until mid-century, with many zoos struggling to remain open during the Great Depression and World War II. The successful zoos survived through making themselves cheap family entertainment. In the 1960s, zoos began to change in drastic ways. With the growing strength of environmental and animal rights movements, the public clamored for more naturalistic and spacious environments in which the animals could live.

The most emblematic of these transformations was the development of the Los Angeles Zoo. In 1966, the cramped and antiquated zoo used grants from the city government to move to a brand-new facility. Although the zoo moved just two miles away, the new location was exponentially bigger, and it featured fresh landscapes that resembled the animals’ natural habitats, instead of dilapidated cages. As the Los Angeles Zoo developed, it was able to work on preservation and conservation efforts for endangered species. New educational programs also became key elements of the Zoo’s mission. Now the old Zoo’s cages stand as ruins and reminders of what past generations saw when they visited years ago.

It can be inferred from the passage that the Great Depression __________.

Possible Answers:

precipitated zoos' moves to larger spaces

made it difficult for zoos to stay open

only affected the Los Angeles Zoo

caused no changes to American society

made cities want to eliminate zoos

Correct answer:

made it difficult for zoos to stay open

Explanation:

The Great Depression is only mentioned once, and in connection with World War II. This means the passage says almost nothing about what the Great Depression truly was. What the passage does note is that "zoos were struggling to remain open," during the Great Depression.

Example Question #12 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

"Science Fiction and Society" by Will Floyd

Science fiction and fantasy novels are often seen as pure escapism; however, many authors use the fantastic or futuristic aspects of their work to comment on contemporary problems. Normally this is done by including things that seem quite familiar to a reader, but giving them small twists rooted in the author’s fabricated world. Subjects like racism are often hard for certain writers to analyze without causing an uproar among certain readers. By subverting the prejudice to being directed against a space alien, a completely unfamiliar being, a science fiction author can reinterpret why humans possess hatred for other groups. This can take the form of prejudice against things that people in reality are not normally prejudiced against. These analyses show the erratic and arbitrary nature of racism.

Fantasy books can offer a similar level of surprise for readers who think they know what the usual course of events would be in the regular world. By making the fantasy the focus of what's occurring in the narrative, love stories, war stories, and simple tales of overcoming obstacles can become pleasantly mystifying. Fantasy authors can create interesting takes on basic morality by simply injecting a small amount of magic into an old tale. Black-and-white approaches to good and evil seem much less trite and hackneyed when set in a fantastical, magical world. The ability for an audience to get lost in a magical world changes the expectations of the reader. Often, the threat of destruction in a beloved fantasy world will seem a darker occurrence than the threat to the world in which they live. This attachment to a created world allows science fiction and fantasy authors to discuss serious issues in a different manner to authors in other genres.

It can be inferred from the passage that science fiction is __________.

Possible Answers:

a disjointed and non-unified genre of fiction

a genre that focuses on speculation about technology, aliens, and futurism

a genre with no place for speculative elements

a highly unpopular genre of fiction

highly different from the genre of fantasy

Correct answer:

a genre that focuses on speculation about technology, aliens, and futurism

Explanation:

The author actually mentions very few specifics about the full definition of "science fiction." Among the specifics that are mentioned, however, are the use of "futuristic aspects." "aliens," and "technology."

Example Question #41 : Reading Comprehension

"Political Representation" by Will Floyd

Pundits often decry the gridlock in Washington, D.C. Partisanship frequently makes legislators oppose bills they have supported in the past. Political grandstanding regularly takes the place of reasoned compromise or deal-making. Many political scientists are trying to find ways to resolve these issues within constitutional boundaries. One of the more popular suggestions is a different voting system called proportional representation. Proportional representation operates under the theory that each vote will help place a candidate in the legislature, rather than the current winner take all method of elections in the United States. Under proportional representation, candidates do not run for a specific seat in a particular district, but instead are part of a ranked list of candidates for each political party; therefore, if a political party receives thirty percent of the votes, thirty percent of the seats will be held by this party. Critics of proportional representation claim the system gives too much power to fringe candidates and political parties, whose only goal would be to destroy the political system. This cynical view of proportional representation stems from the example of countries currently using proportional representation. As it is, political scientists who do argue for proportional representation are trying to find a way around the current problems that exist in the United States’ political system, and feel a third party might create new pressures on the two party system currently causing such problems. The advocates of proportional representation do not argue that proportional representation is a perfect system, but also argue that we are not currently using a perfect system and that we need something to change.

It can be inferred from the passage that political scientists who advocate proportional representation __________.

Possible Answers:

are trying to correct problems in the current American political system

generally hold a position agreed with all other political scientists

are naïve academics who do not understand the harsh realities of politics

are disliked by the vast majority of politicians in the United States

are an insignificant minority in the world of political science with no influence

Correct answer:

are trying to correct problems in the current American political system

Explanation:

The political scientists who support proportional representation are only elaborated on through their positions. Few specific details are really given about the political scientists themselves, but it is mentioned in the opening sentences that there are many problems in the political system.

Example Question #11 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

"Political Representation" by Will Floyd

Pundits often decry the gridlock in Washington, D.C. Partisanship frequently makes legislators oppose bills they have supported in the past. Political grandstanding regularly takes the place of reasoned compromise or deal-making. Many political scientists are trying to find ways to resolve these issues within constitutional boundaries. One of the more popular suggestions is a different voting system called proportional representation. Proportional representation operates under the theory that each vote will help place a candidate in the legislature, rather than the current winner take all method of elections in the United States. Under proportional representation, candidates do not run for a specific seat in a particular district, but instead are part of a ranked list of candidates for each political party; therefore, if a political party receives thirty percent of the votes, thirty percent of the seats will be held by this party. Critics of proportional representation claim the system gives too much power to fringe candidates and political parties, whose only goal would be to destroy the political system. This cynical view of proportional representation stems from the example of countries currently using proportional representation. As it is, political scientists who do argue for proportional representation are trying to find a way around the current problems that exist in the United States’ political system, and feel a third party might create new pressures on the two party system currently causing such problems. The advocates of proportional representation do not argue that proportional representation is a perfect system, but also argue that we are not currently using a perfect system and that we need something to change.

It can be inferred from the passage that the "gridlock in Washington, D.C." stems from __________.

Possible Answers:

the perfect system of government

political science

winner-take-all elections

proportional representation

the two-party system

Correct answer:

the two-party system

Explanation:

The passage mentions "gridlock in Washington, D.C." in the very first sentence, then disusses "partisanship" and "political grandstanding." Later in the passage, the key argument for proportional representation is given as allowing third parties to put pressure on the current two parties that share power.

Example Question #41 : Reading Comprehension

"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 Enlightenment-era classicists __________.

Possible Answers:

knew nothing of any art styles

provided no value to the understanding of Greek art

were jealous of the ancient Greeks' artistic abilities

held a great deal of affection for ancient Greek art

ignored the value of the ancient Greeks and their art

Correct answer:

held a great deal of affection for ancient Greek art

Explanation:

The author does blame "Enlightenment era classicists" for misrepresenting Greek art as always utilizing plain white marble; however, the author is also careful to note that they did this because they were "the ancient Greeks' biggest proponents in history," and greatly appreciated the achievements of the ancient Greeks.

Example Question #13 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Single Answer Questions

"Idioms and Rhyming Slang" by Will Floyd

While dialects and slang exist in most corners of the world, a few peculiar language habits stand out as developing entirely new ways of speaking. Most famously, the rhyming Cockney slang of East London that developed in the late nineteenth century has created many different idioms. The process of creating rhyming slang appears quite simple. A common word gets replaced by a phrase whose terminal syllable rhymes with the word. Thus, “wife” would become “trouble and strife,” except rhyming slang quite frequently does not stop there. Remarkably, the rhyming component of the phrase is often dropped altogether, so that wife is actually just “trouble.” Other notable examples is “stairs” becoming “apples,” from “apples and pears,” and “bottle” becoming “aris,” shortened from “Aristotle.”

Obviously, this can lead to quite a bit of confusion to a person unfamiliar with rhyming slang, or someone who does not know the full rhymes. This problem is exacerbated by the fluidity of rhyming slang. Celebrities and politicians can often lend their names to new forms, and “Britney Spears” has become a term for “beers” in recent years. This confusion may actually have been an intentional aspect of rhyming slang. Theories abound about the origin of rhyming slang, with the one constant being a form of deception by the people using the slang, with the language of shady shopkeepers or the doubletalk of thieves as the most commonly cited examples. No matter the origin, rhyming Cockney slang is a true innovation on the English language.

It can be inferred to the passage that "Cockney" refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

people from East London and their customs

rhyming words

Britney Spears

linguistic innovations

odd ways of talking

Correct answer:

people from East London and their customs

Explanation:

The key clue to the passage is in the second sentence, which notes "rhyming Cockney slang" appeared first in "the East End of London." No other definition besides being used as a signifier for a particular brand of rhyming slang is given.

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