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Shortcut to answer GMAT RC assumption and purpose questions

In early 1990, Isabel Beck and Margaret McKeown pioneered a new reading comprehension technique - questioning the author. The technique involved critical questioning of the author, and his intentions. By focusing on the thought process and motivation behind the articles, readers were better equipped to recognize biases, and how the author manipulates facts while forming an opinion.

Here are five Steps to question the Author

1) Find the Author’s Knowledge

GMAT reading comprehension questions require looking at the passage as a reference and finding the answers to the questions asked. There is no point in questioning the author’s knowledge except in cases where the question is about the assumptions of the author. Your knowledge about the subject matter would help you understand whether the author is misinterpreting facts to make a point. But in most cases, GMAT Reading Comprehension includes diverse topics ranging from ecological preservation, financial systems and rights of African-Americans. You are not expected to be scholars in these topic areas, and hence beating the author on knowledge is less likely. But it helps to know more than the author to recognize the thoughts he articulates while making a point.

2) Find the Information Link

Authors are masters at linking unrelated information to create the illusion of logical consistency in their arguments. With critical reading, GMAT test takers can easily spot how author link facts to state an opinion. A recommended approach for finding the fallacy in how information is linked is by separating facts from opinions. Facts mostly have to do with numbers, dates, and averages. Opinions are related to how the author interprets a fact.

For example, the Bengal famine of 1943 would be interpreted as a natural famine by the author with biases in favor of the British Empire. But an Indian nationalist would add another information – Bengal Exported the most quantity of grains in 1943, clearly indicating the British Empire’s priority of profit over the welfare of their colony. Spotting Biases involve finding how information is connected.

3) Find the Bias

All authors have biases. There are no unbiased articles. GMAC uses research articles for GMAT Reading comprehension. Biases are present in these articles too. Each event, policy decisions, and a major change in society can be interpreted positively or negatively depending on how the author interprets the events leading up to a major change. The interpretation depends on the ideology and belief of the author.

Clear biases are visible in the adjectives used by the author. If the adjectives used are strong like ‘enormous, awful, impossible, exhausted, terrified,’ the author is trying hard to associate an emotion with the change.

Biases become clear with adjectives.

For some authors, the biases are subtle. Strong adjectives are absent. They use facts in place of adjectives to make a point.


GMAT test takers are not expected to be subject matter experts but separating facts from opinions will help you understand the biases.

Most biased authors would have a higher number of opinions over facts.

4) Find Author’s Logical Fallacies

Spotting logical fallacy is easy. When authors use facts to conclude an opinion that is not supported by any of the facts, and that involve assumptions from the readers, then you know that you are witnessing a logical fallacy.

A common logical fallacy is the “Argument from Silence” where the author reaches a conclusion based on the absence of any facts to prove the contrary. With this logical thinking, authors can interpret any facts to create an opinion provided there are no facts to prove them wrong.

Example of “Black Swan” is a classic example.

White swans have become synonymous when we mention swans. When the phrase “Black Swan” was coined, the existence of actual Black Swans was assumed to be non-existent.  When Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh recorded the first sighting Black Swan in 1697, he undid a set of logical statements related to swans. New facts create logical fallacies, and GMAT test takers who are skilled at combining facts will find logical fallacies within a passage.


5) Did the Author answer the Question?


When the author starts with facts and slowly progresses towards opinions, he is trying to answer a prominent question about society, evolution, ecology, or interpretation of history. What most GMAT test takers miss with the heap of facts, and opinion is the central question – did the author answer the central question about the topic? If the subject is about the declining polar ice caps, the author can cite several facts without answering the central question. Were humans responsible for the declining ice caps, or was it the natural seasonal variations that led to the dramatic change in the size of ice caps during the past 12000 years?

Without addressing the central question, the passage becomes ambiguous and requires GMAT test takers to use their knowledge to find conclusions. This is a faulty approach. By critically reading the passage, and looking for the central theme of the passage, test takers can easily find whether the author has answered the central question.

Questioning the author technique cannot be taught without critically evaluating the intellect and biases of the author. Most GMAT test takers will fail to question the author since finding fault with the source requires double checking facts and opinions mentioned in the passage – an exercise that requires a heightened sense of critical thinking, comprehension and most importantly – time.

<Start of Passage>

When Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' earned awards and accolades and demonstrated Global Warming as a human-induced phenomenon, not many scientists looked beyond the research papers from 'US Global Change Research Program'. The 2006 documentary was fodder to Global Warming alarmists, who forgot the fundamental fact that the average temperature has climbed by only 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 Degree Celsius) since global temperatures began to be monitored systematically from 1880.


The research by Andrew Dessler and his team from Texas A&M University has confirmed the previous debated theory that water vapor is the most contributing greenhouse gas, doubling the climate warming caused by the increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite became the first device to measure water vapor at all altitudes within the troposphere. Using AIRS, the scientists measured the humidity along the lowest 10 miles of the atmosphere. The level of humidity along with observation about carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases allowed researchers to grasp the interplay of the three major contributors of Global Warming. More than the increase in temperature, the compounding nature of Water Vapor is what worrying scientists around the world. Increase in water vapor leads to a warmer temperature that results in more water vapor emitted into the air.

Although Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary contributor of greenhouse gas emitted through human activities, accounting for 82% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 - renewable energy propagandists conveniently forget that it is the naturally occurring heat emitted from our body that is causing the increase. Perhaps an initiative to control birth rate would halt the supposed increase in Global temperature.

<End of Passage>



1) What assumption does the author make when he states, “renewable energy propagandists conveniently forget that it is the naturally occurring heat emitted from our body that is causing the increase.”


a) CO2 is the primary contributor of greenhouse gas

b) The major contributor to Global Warming is water vapor
c) The global temperature recorded from 1880 is enough to understand global warming
d) Renewable energy propagandists are responsible for the theory of 'Global Warming'

e) U.S Greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for global warming

2) The primary purpose of the passage is to


a) Demonstrate that global warming is natural

b) Show that CO2 is not the primary contributor towards global warming
c) Highlight the development of AIRS and its contribution to studying global warming
d) Question human-induced global warming

e) Present the compounding effect of water vapor in Global Warming

Answers


If you have carefully read the passage, you know that the author connects facts in an interesting manner to make one point – “Global Warming is not human-induced” apart from the naturally dissipating heat from the human body as water vapor. As a solution, the author recommends that renewable energy propagandists and global warming alarmists focus on birth control. After all, a large population emitting heat from the body is responsible for the increase in temperature. 

Read Again.

Summary

Paragraph 1:  From 1880, the increase in temperature is only 1.4 degree – a negligible increase


Paragraph 2: Water vapor is the leading greenhouse gas according to studies. The compounding nature of Water Vapor is contributing towards Global Warming.

Paragraph 3: Increase in temperature contributed by Water Vapor. The solution is birth control.

Bias 1: Increase in temperature from 1880 is just 1.4 degree, a negligible increase

Bias 2: Increase in water vapor and not increase in CO2 is the primary cause of Global Warming

Contradicting Statement: “The research by Andrew Dessler and his team from Texas A&M University has confirmed the previous debated theory that Water Vapor is the most contributing greenhouse gas, doubling the climate warming caused by the increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere”

Questioning the author consistently through each line of the passage will allow you to spot that one contradicting the statement that will act as the basis for answering assumption, the primary purpose and other related GMAT RC questions about the passage.

Tip: Draw Sequential diagrams to represent the cause and effect statement. For the above statement, the diagram looks like:

Increased CO2 -> Increased Water Vapor (Higher Temperature)

By neglecting the cause and focusing on the effect, the author is evading the conclusion that human contributed CO2 is responsible for Global Warming. Instead, the author is offering a valid solution – decrease the birth rate. Even though the solution is spot on, the cause and effect theories explained in the passage is flawed. Don’t get carried away if the conclusion is true but the premises are false or not the primary reason for a phenomenon.

1) What assumption does the author make when he states, “renewable energy propagandists conveniently forget that it is the naturally occurring heat emitted from our body that is causing the increase.”


a) CO2 is the primary contributor of greenhouse gas

The author tries hard to evade from this fact. Eliminate.

b) The major contributor to global warming is water vapor

The author states a study to prove that “Water Vapor is the most contributing greenhouse gas,” and based on the statement is assuming that Water vapor is responsible for Global Warming. Keep it.


c) The global temperature recorded from 1880 is enough to understand global warming

Although this is an assumption used in the passage, the question is about the assumption used for one statement - renewable energy propagandists conveniently forget that it is the naturally occurring heat emitted from our body that is causing the increase. Eliminate.

d) Renewable energy propagandists are responsible for the theory of 'Global Warming'

Although the author hints that the propagandists are responsible for distorting the truth, he never concludes that they are responsible for the theory of Global Warming. According to the author, Global Warming is negligible for us to be concerned. Eliminate.

e) U.S Greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for global warming

The author quotes numbers on U.S Greenhouse gas emissions “Although Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary contributor of greenhouse gas emitted through human activities, accounting for 82% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012.”

But the quote is to make a point that it is not human activities that are responsible for Global Warming. Therefore, the assumption is not valid. Eliminate.

Correct Answer: B


2) The primary purpose of the passage is to


a) To demonstrate that global warming is natural

Although the author cites naturally emitted water vapor as the cause of the ‘so- called’ Global warming, he never concludes that Global Warming is natural. Eliminate.

b) To show that CO2 is not the primary contributor towards global warming


The author cites and connects multiple facts to hide the fact that CO2 is the primary contributor to Global Warming. Keep it.

c) To highlight the development of AIRS and its contribution to studying global warming

Although citing AIRS as a major technological development added authenticity to the fact that water vapor was the major greenhouse emitting gas, the primary purpose is not to connect AIRS with the study of Global Warming. Eliminate.


d) To question human-induced global warming

Although humans are responsible for emitting water vapor, it is natural not induced. Keep it.


e) To present the compounding effect of water vapor in global warming

Although paragraph 2 talks about the compounding effect of Water Vapor in Global warming, it is not the primary purpose of the passage.

Eliminate.

Between b) and d), the latter covers the purpose holistically although b) explains how the author is hiding the fact.

Correct Answer: D

Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide (2019 Edition)


Chapters

Collecting and Interpreting Facts: GMAT Reading Comprehension    
Effective Note-taking for GMAT Reading Comprehension    
5 Questions to Speed up Summary Creation    
Mastering GMAT Reading Comprehension: 3 Best Practices    
How to Remember Information    
How to improve comprehension by Questioning the Author    
How to Read Faster    
How to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Title question
How to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Main Idea Question    
How to Answer GMAT Reading comprehension inference question    
How to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Purpose Question    
How to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Detail Question    
How to Answer the GMAT organization of passage Question    

How to Improve GMAT Reading Comprehension Score?   

Passage #1: Protein-Rich Diet    
Passage #2: Pregnant Women and Stress Management    
Passage #3: F Losing Momentum    
Passage #4: Conservatives and Automation    
Passage #5: Collaboration, Team size and Performance    
Passage #6: Effective Altruism    
Passage #7: Loneliness Epidemic    
Passage #8: Space Exploration    
Passage #9: Lab-Grown Meat    
Passage #10: Minimum Wage in the US    
Passage #11: AI and Creativity    
Passage #12: Bias Against Healthcare in Developing Economies    
Passage #13: Legacy Admissions    
Passage #14: Plastic Ban and alternatives    
Passage #15: Underestimating Homo Sapiens    
Passage #16: Conspiracy Theories    
Passage #17: Relative Poverty    
Passage #18: Why Paintings are expensive    
Passage #19: US Obesity Epidemics    
Passage #20: The Future of Advertising    
Passage #21: Breaking Large Companies    
Passage #22: Helicopter Parenting    
Passage #23: Future of Democracy    
Passage #24: Technology and Global Citizenship    

Passage #25: Morality and Investment   

Answers: 157 to 294

Pages: 295

Questions: 100+


Download F1GMAT's Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide (2019 Edition)

Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide


After reading F1GMAT’s Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide, you will:

1. Complete GMAT RC Questions in less than 1 minute and 50 seconds
2. Read Faster
3. Take Notes Effectively
4. Collect and Interpret Facts
5. Speed up Summary Creation
6. Remember Information
7. Question the Author   
8. Learn to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Title question   
9. Learn to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Main Idea Question   

10.Learn to Answer GMAT Reading comprehension Inference question

11. Learn to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Detail Question   

12. Learn to Answer GMAT Reading Comprehension Purpose Question
12. Learn to Answer GMAT organization of passage Question
13. Learn to identify the style/tone or attitude of the author

Download Essential GMAT Reading Comprehension Guide (2019 Edition) (100+ New Questions)









Mastering GMAT Critical Reasoning



After you read F1GMAT’s Mastering GMAT Critical Reasoning Guide, you will learn:

How to overcome flawed thinking in GMAT Critical Reasoning?  


How to spot Inconsistencies in Arguments  

How to eliminate out of scope answer choices using Necessary and Sufficient Conditions  

How to Paraphrase GMAT Critical Reasoning Question  

How to Answer Assumption Question Type  

How to Answer Conclusion Question Type  

How to Answer Inference Question Type  

How to Answer Strengthen Question Type  

How to Answer Weaken Question Type  

How to Answer bold-faced and Summary Question Types  

How to Answer Parallel Reasoning Questions  

How to Answer the Fill in the Blanks Question


Download Mastering GMAT Critical Reasoning (2019 Edition) (25+ New Questions)




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