GRE Verbal : Argument in Single-Answer Questions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #41 : Argument 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.

The author's opinion of Leo Fender is best summarized as __________.

Possible Answers:

he never gained the recognition he deserved in his own lifetime

his real skill lay not in manufacturing guitars but in marketing them to musicians

he was a true innovator in the manufacturing of electric guitars

he stole every good idea he ever had about manufacturing guitars

he was a very good musician in his own right in addition to being a luthier

Correct answer:

he was a true innovator in the manufacturing of electric guitars

Explanation:

The author clearly admires and respects Leo Fender a great deal, and such a positive tone should be in the correct answer. The particular attributes that are highlighted in the passage, though, are almost entirely related to Fender's abilities as a guitar manufacturer.

Example Question #91 : Reading Comprehension

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.

The author's view of nineteenth-century baseball is best described as __________.

Possible Answers:

critical of the organizational abilities of the game's authorities

shocked by its inability to figure out the modern form of the game

admiring of the sport's rulesmakers for improving the game

dismissive of its primitive state

annoyed by the constant rule breaking

Correct answer:

admiring of the sport's rulesmakers for improving the game

Explanation:

The author actually has a great deal of interest and respect for the nineteenth-century version of baseball, and the tone of the passage reflects this appreciation for the game. A particular focus of the author is the changes in rules nineteenth-century basball undertook, which are developments the author is appreciative of.

Example Question #92 : Reading Comprehension

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 will not stop there. Remarkably, the rhyming component of the phrase will be 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 be an intentional development 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.

The author would NOT agree with the statement that __________

Possible Answers:

language must remain pure and unshifting in its usage.

language can continually change with new forms.

language is a fluid process among speakers.

language can have new forms strengthen its meaning.

language can be deepened by slang.

Correct answer:

language must remain pure and unshifting in its usage.

Explanation:

The author celebrates "rhyming Cockney slang" as innovative and interesting, despite its constant change and odd usage. This indicates the author believes language should NOT be "static and unchanging."

Example Question #23 : Analyzing Point Of View, Assumptions, And Bias In Single Answer Questions

Twenty years of conjecture about artificial intelligence surpassing human intelligence has provided little more than fodder for science fiction.  Yet, people should take the issue seriously.  Computer programming has advanced to the point that artificial intelligence is capable of things human minds cannot accomplish.  If taken seriously, artifcial intelligence can improve military operations, medical treatment and diagnosis, manufacturing, construction, and many other fields.

The author most likely believes that artificial intelligence capabilities . . .

Possible Answers:

pose a danger

are taken seriously

have improved various areas of life

can improve various areas of life

are an important basis for science fiction

Correct answer:

can improve various areas of life

Explanation:

The author does not address any possible negative implications from artificial intelligence, instead describing only benefits.  The author also makes clear that these benefits have not been obtained, instead stating that there will be benefits if artificial intelligence capabilities are taken seriously.  Finally, the first sentence only serves as an introduction to the topic.

Example Question #2 : Textual Relationships In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from Seven Discourses Delivered in the Royal Academy By the President by Joshua Reynolds (1778)

All the objects which are exhibited to our view by nature, upon close examination will be found to have their blemishes and defects. The most beautiful forms have something about them like weakness, minuteness, or imperfection. But it is not every eye that perceives these blemishes. It must be an eye long used to the contemplation and comparison of these forms—and which, by a long habit of observing what any set of objects of the same kind have in common, that alone can acquire the power of discerning what each wants in particular. This long laborious comparison should be the first study of the painter who aims at the greatest style. By this means, he acquires a just idea of beautiful forms; he corrects nature by herself, her imperfect state by her more perfect. His eye being enabled to distinguish the accidental deficiencies, excrescences, and deformities of things from their general figures, he makes out an abstract idea of their forms more perfect than any one original—and what may seem a paradox, he learns to design naturally by drawing his figures unlike to any one object. This idea of the perfect state of nature, which the artist calls the ideal beauty, is the great leading principle by which works of genius are conducted. By this, Phidias acquired his fame. He wrought upon a sober principle what has so much excited the enthusiasm of the world—and by this method you, who have courage to tread the same path, may acquire equal reputation.

The author would agree with the statement that __________.

Possible Answers:

artists can never understand the forms of nature

artists should only paint abstract forms

nature is always perfectly beautiful and harmonious

all artists can perfect the forms of nature

nature is horribly corrupted

Correct answer:

all artists can perfect the forms of nature

Explanation:

The entire passage is advice to artists on how to perfect the flaws in nature, and how the best way to understand the flaws is to study them. Most of all, the author claims that artists can perfect the flaws of nature through their own work.

Example Question #122 : Inferential Comprehension

Adapted from Seven Discourses Delivered in the Royal Academy By the President by Joshua Reynolds (1778)

All the objects which are exhibited to our view by nature, upon close examination will be found to have their blemishes and defects. The most beautiful forms have something about them like weakness, minuteness, or imperfection. But it is not every eye that perceives these blemishes. It must be an eye long used to the contemplation and comparison of these forms—and which, by a long habit of observing what any set of objects of the same kind have in common, that alone can acquire the power of discerning what each wants in particular. This long laborious comparison should be the first study of the painter who aims at the greatest style. By this means, he acquires a just idea of beautiful forms; he corrects nature by herself, her imperfect state by her more perfect. His eye being enabled to distinguish the accidental deficiencies, excrescences, and deformities of things from their general figures, he makes out an abstract idea of their forms more perfect than any one original—and what may seem a paradox, he learns to design naturally by drawing his figures unlike to any one object. This idea of the perfect state of nature, which the artist calls the ideal beauty, is the great leading principle by which works of genius are conducted. By this, Phidias acquired his fame. He wrought upon a sober principle what has so much excited the enthusiasm of the world—and by this method you, who have courage to tread the same path, may acquire equal reputation.

The author would NOT agree with the statement that __________.

Possible Answers:

natural objects have no imperfections

artists can always improve their abilities

artists can make natural imperfections disappear from their art

artists should study natural objects

nature is inherently flawed

Correct answer:

natural objects have no imperfections

Explanation:

The very first statement in the passage is that "all objects . . . upon close examination will be found to have their blemishes and defects." The idea that natural objects do have imperfections is the entire framework for the passage.

Example Question #43 : Argument 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.

The author views modern scientific tests as __________.

Possible Answers:

impediments to developing artistic standards

valuable tools to attain new knowledge

no better than those available to the ancient Greeks

unable to say anything about ancient Greek art

useful only in regards to modern issues

Correct answer:

valuable tools to attain new knowledge

Explanation:

The author discusses "scientific tests" only in the final sentence, as the ultimate proof that ancient Greeks used bright paints in their statuary. Its important role in the passage indicates that the author views scientific tests as quite valuable.

Example Question #1 : Identifying And Analyzing Supporting Ideas In Contemporary Life Passages

Adapted from Seven Discourses Delivered in the Royal Academy By the President by Joshua Reynolds (1778)

All the objects which are exhibited to our view by nature, upon close examination will be found to have their blemishes and defects. The most beautiful forms have something about them like weakness, minuteness, or imperfection. But it is not every eye that perceives these blemishes. It must be an eye long used to the contemplation and comparison of these forms—and which, by a long habit of observing what any set of objects of the same kind have in common, that alone can acquire the power of discerning what each wants in particular. This long laborious comparison should be the first study of the painter who aims at the greatest style. By this means, he acquires a just idea of beautiful forms; he corrects nature by herself, her imperfect state by her more perfect. His eye being enabled to distinguish the accidental deficiencies, excrescences, and deformities of things from their general figures, he makes out an abstract idea of their forms more perfect than any one original—and what may seem a paradox, he learns to design naturally by drawing his figures unlike to any one object. This idea of the perfect state of nature, which the artist calls the ideal beauty, is the great leading principle by which works of genius are conducted. By this, Phidias acquired his fame. He wrought upon a sober principle what has so much excited the enthusiasm of the world—and by this method you, who have courage to tread the same path, may acquire equal reputation.

The author believes that painters are __________.

Possible Answers:

hopelessly out of touch with natural beauty

able to improve their abilities with study

always produce images that are superior to images from nature

born with natural gifts that cannot be improved

unable to replicate what is found in nature

Correct answer:

able to improve their abilities with study

Explanation:

The author urges painters to have a "habit of observing" and to study natural images. The passage also demonstrates quite clearly that study will make painters better able to "perfect" natural forms and correct nature's "blemishes and defects."

Example Question #81 : Single Answer Questions

Adapted from Seven Discourses Delivered in the Royal Academy By the President by Joshua Reynolds (1778)

All the objects which are exhibited to our view by nature, upon close examination will be found to have their blemishes and defects. The most beautiful forms have something about them like weakness, minuteness, or imperfection. But it is not every eye that perceives these blemishes. It must be an eye long used to the contemplation and comparison of these forms—and which, by a long habit of observing what any set of objects of the same kind have in common, that alone can acquire the power of discerning what each wants in particular. This long laborious comparison should be the first study of the painter who aims at the greatest style. By this means, he acquires a just idea of beautiful forms; he corrects nature by herself, her imperfect state by her more perfect. His eye being enabled to distinguish the accidental deficiencies, excrescences, and deformities of things from their general figures, he makes out an abstract idea of their forms more perfect than any one original—and what may seem a paradox, he learns to design naturally by drawing his figures unlike to any one object. This idea of the perfect state of nature, which the artist calls the ideal beauty, is the great leading principle by which works of genius are conducted. By this, Phidias acquired his fame. He wrought upon a sober principle what has so much excited the enthusiasm of the world—and by this method you, who have courage to tread the same path, may acquire equal reputation.

The author's view of nature is best summarized as __________.

Possible Answers:

it cannot be improved by humanity

it is unable to be studied by humans

it has a beauty that cannot be represented by human art

it is a threat to humanity

it is inherently imperfect

Correct answer:

it is inherently imperfect

Explanation:

The passage begins by noting that nature, "upon close examination," contains "blemishes and defects." The passage further argues that a skilled painter can study nature to improve upon its imperfections.

Example Question #31 : Analyzing Point Of View, Assumptions, And Bias 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.

The author views technology and science as __________.

Possible Answers:

crucial to methods that all chefs are using to make food

useful tools to advance culinary approaches

distractions from making good food

allowing chefs to cover up a lack of skill

cheap shortcuts to make food more quickly and efficiently 

Correct answer:

useful tools to advance culinary approaches

Explanation:

The author celebrates molecular gastronomy as embracing technology and science to create exciting experiences. This means the author views technology and science as positive. The best answer choice is "a useful tool to advance culinary approaches."

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