August 22, 2011
As you try the practice GMAT problem below, remember that on Critical Reasoning inference questions you should accept all of the information in the stimulus as true. When you read the answer choices look for an option that must be true based on the stimulus.
Randall: Many of the productions of my plays by amateur theater groups are poorly done, and such interpretations do not provide a true measure of my skills as a dramatist.
Which one of the following can be properly inferred from Randall’s statement?
(A) Some amateur theater groups’ productions of Randall’s plays provide a true measure of his skills as a dramatist.
(B) All amateur theater group productions of Randall’s plays that are not poorly done provide a true measure of his skills as a dramatist.
(C) All of the productions of Randall’s plays by amateur theater groups that do not provide a true measure of his skills as a dramatist are poorly done.
(D) If a production of a dramatist’s play is well done, then it provides a true measure of his or her skills as a dramatist.
(E) At least some amateur theatrical groups’ productions of Randall’s plays fail to provide a true measure of his skills as a dramatist.
Since this is an inference question, we do not need to breakdown the stimulus in any way. We need to accept everything that Randall tells as true, and we need to look for an answer choice that, therefore, also must be true.
Choice (A) certainly could be true, but it does not need to be, so we can eliminate it. Based on Randall’s statement it is entirely possible that no amateur theater productions reflect his skills as a dramatist.
Choice (B) is an extreme answer choice. We know this because of the presence of the word “all.” It is possible that some well-done productions do not reflect Randall’s skill for some other reason, for example low production values.
Choice (C) is also extreme. It is possible that a well-done production does not reflect Randall’s skill.
Choice (D) is too broad. We do not know anything about productions other than Randall’s.
Finally, choice (E) must be true. Many amateur productions are poorly done and poorly done productions do not reflect Randall’s skills as a dramatist. Therefore, some such productions must not reflect Randall’s skills. Thus, (E) is the correct answer.
August 15, 2011
Today’s GMAT practice problem is a Critical Reasoning weaken question. Weaken questions are more common than any other question type in the critical reasoning section, so it is essential to be prepared for them. On these problems, identify the conclusion, evidence and assumption and then look for the answer choice that refutes the central assumption.
Increasingly, American businesses requiring customer service phone lines have been utilizing overseas companies that can provide these services at extremely reduced rates. Toll-free calls are routed to countries like India, where low-paid workers have been trained to deal with most of the typical problems consumers have with their credit cards, online services, and computer equipment. Since the companies using these overseas call centers are saving so much money, they will undoubtedly show higher profits than companies that do not.
Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?
(A) There is strong competition among overseas call centers to provide the most comprehensive services at the lowest rates.
(B) Consumers opposed to exporting American jobs are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that don’t engage in this practice.
(C) Certain banking services cannot be outsourced, since this would require the release of customer financial data.
(D) Because offshore telephone customer service companies provide only these services, they can train their employees more thoroughly than American companies could.
(E) Some American companies send their own employees overseas to train the call center personnel in their particular business.
On weaken questions, such as the problem here, start by following the same steps as an assumption question. This means we must first identify the author’s conclusion. Here the author concludes that companies that move their call centers overseas will have higher profits than companies that do not.
Next, we must find the evidence that supports the conclusion. In this argument we see the evidence keyword “since.” Thus, our evidence is that companies save money by moving their call centers overseas.
Third, look for the assumption, or unstated link between the conclusion and evidence. The assumption of this argument is that moving a call center overseas has no negative impact on gross revenues.
Finally, because this is a weaken question, we must look for an answer choice that refutes the assumption. In this case, option (B) does so. If companies that use American labor can charge more for their products, saving money by moving call centers overseas may not be more profitable than keeping call centers in the United States and increasing the price of products.
The practice GMAT problem below is an example of a Critical Reasoning bolded statement question. On bolded statement questions with two separate bold statements, determine what role the first bolded statement is playing in the argument, then determine what role the second bolded statement is playing in terms of the first.
Auto Manufacturer: For the past three years, the Micro has been our best-selling car. This year, however, sales of the Micro have been down for two consecutive quarters. Therefore, we are going to make certain features, like leather seats and CD players, standard on the Micro, rather than require buyers to pay extra for them. This will make the Micro more attractive to buyers, thus stimulating sales.
Auto Dealer: Most people who buy the Micro do so because of its low cost. Adding new standard features will raise the base price of the Micro, costing us sales.
In the argument above, the two statements in bold play which of the following roles?
(A) The first is a conclusion; the second suggests that this conclusion is based on evidence that is irrelevant to the issue at hand.
(B) The presents a hypothesis; the second casts doubt on the evidence on which that hypothesis on which that hypothesis is based.
(C) The first provides a conclusion; the second weakens the assumption on which that conclusion relies.
(D) The first offers evidence that is disproved by the second.
(E) The first presents a conclusion; the second supports the conclusion but offers a different interpretation of how it will impact the speaker’s business.
Let’s start by determining the role played by the first statement in boldface. In this part of the auto manufacturer’s argument, the manufacturer makes a prediction about sales of the Micro. As this prediction is also the manufacturer’s main point, it must be the conclusion.
Once we have made this determination, we can look to the second boldface statement. In it, the auto dealer points out a flaw in the reasoning of the manufacturer.
However, when we assess the answer choices, all but option (E) provide a variation on the first is a conclusion and the second attacks it. We should eliminate (E), as it claims that the second supports the first, and consider choices (A) – (D) more carefully.
(A), (B) and (D) all discuss an attack on the manufacturer’s evidence. However, the evidence simply states that sales are down – a fact that the dealer does not question. Thus, we should eliminate all three of these answer choice.
Option (C) correctly states that the dealer weakens the manufacturer’s assumption, namely that more features will lead to more sales, regardless of other considerations. Therefore, we can select (C) as the answer of this question.
On the GMAT when you are faced with Critical Reasoning “explain” questions, your task is to identify the two pieces of information that appear to contradict and look for the answer choice that explains why they do not. For practice, try the problem below.
A series of experiments was conducted in which rats of various ages were placed in a series of mazes and timed to see how long it took them to find their way out. In the first set of runs, the younger rats made their way out of the mazes an average of 30 percent faster than the older rats. Three days later, however, when the same rats were placed in the same mazes, the older rats were faster by nearly 40 percent.
Which of the following hypothesis best accounts for the findings of the experiments?
(A) A rat’s sense of smell becomes less acute as it gets older.
(B) The older rats had been used in earlier experiments.
(C) Older rats have better-developed sensory memory, which allows them to “remember” the mazes three days later.
(D) Younger rats become frustrated when faced with repeated dead ends in a maze, while older rats do not.
(E) Older rats tire more easily than younger rats.
Remember, “explain” questions will not have a conclusion – instead start by identifying the two pieces evidence. In our problem, the first piece of evidence is that in the first experiment the younger rats found their way out of the maze more quickly than the older rats. The second piece of evidence that appears to contradict the first is that the older rats finished the maze more quickly in the second experiment.
Now we need to assess the answer choices one at a time, until we find a choice that explains how both pieces of evidence can be true. On many types of Critical Reasoning Questions, you will be trying to predict an answer quickly so that you know what you are looking for. However, on “explain” questions, you will not easily be able to predict an answer choice since there are numerous possible explanations, so you must go immediately to the choices and start assessing each option and eliminating as you go.
Option (A) is out of scope – we are not concerned with the rats’ sense of smell.
Option (B) is also out of scope – we have no interest in earlier experiments.
Option (C) tells us that the older rats have a better memory. If this is true, we would know why the older rats can complete the maze more quickly the second time through, even though they take longer to figure it out the first time. So, this IS one possible explanation to the unexplained scenario. As long as you are not short on time, you should still quickly read over the other choices, and here options (D) and (E) are also statements that are outside of the scope of this scenario, so (C) is correct.
The following GMAT sentence correction problem focuses on parallel structure. Remember, items in a list must be formatted in the exact same way in order to be correct on the GMAT.
The threatened railway strike would cause significant inconvenience to the city: not only do thousands of commuters rely on trains to get them to and from work, but also as a connection between other forms of public transportation, such as buses and subways.
(A) not only do thousands of commuters rely on trains to get them to and from work, but also as a connection between
(B) thousands of commuters rely on trains not only to get them to and from work, but also to connect with
(C) thousands of commuters rely not only on trains to get them to and from work, but also as a connection with
(D) not only thousands of commuters going to and from work rely on trains to get them there, but also to connect with
(E) thousands of commuters rely on trains, not only for getting them to and from work, but also as a connection between
The construction “not only…but also” is fairly common on sentence correction problems – usually the GMAT tests that you know the phrase “not only” must be followed by the phrase “but also.” However, in the problem above, all five answer choices include both the phrase “not only” and the phrase “but also.” In this case, it is also important to know that the words that come after “not only” must be parallel with the words that come after “but also.”
In the original sentence, “not only” is followed by “do thousands of commuters,” while “but also is followed by “as a connection.” Because “do thousands of commuters” and “as a connection” are not in parallel form, (A) is incorrect.
In option (C) “not only” is followed by “on trains,” whereas “but also” is followed by “as a connection.” Again, this is not parallel and (C) can be eliminated. Furthermore, (C) makes it seem as if commuters rely on something besides trains, which is not the intention of the sentence.
In choice (D) “not only” is followed by “thousands of commuters,” while “but also” is followed by “to connect with.” Additionally, (D) implies that someone besides commuters are taking the train, which is not what the author is trying to say. Thus, (D) should be eliminated.
(E) follows “not only” with “for getting them to” and “but also” with “a connection between.” Just as has been the case with the previous three answers, (E) is not parallel and, therefore, incorrect.
We are left with choice (B) as the correct answer. In (B) “not only” is followed by “to get” and “but also” is followed by “to connect.” Since these are in parallel form, (B) can be selected.
The majority of grammatical errors that appear in the sentence correction questions on the GMAT fall into six categories. Today’s question focuses on verb errors; when a verb appears in a sentence correction problem, make sure it is correct in both tense and number.
Wolfgang von Kempelen, an 18th-century Hungarian baron, claimed to have invented a chess-playing automation he called “The Turk”; this mechanical illusion, which was actually operated by a hidden chess master who defeated Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin as well as many other well-known challengers, were destroyed in an 1854 fire.
(A) which was actually operated by a hidden chess master who defeated Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin as well as many other well-known challengers, were
(B) which a hidden chess-master actually operated, defeating Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin as well as many other well-known challengers, were
(C) which was actually operated by a hidden chess master who defeated Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin as well as many other well-known challengers, was
(D) with a hidden chess master operating it who defeated Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin as well as many other well-know challengers, were
(E) which defeated Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin, as well as many other well-known challengers, by hiding a chess master inside who actually operated it, was
When faced with a lengthy underlined portion, do not try to assess every part of it at once. Instead, look for one specific error at a time. The problem above uses a common GMAT tactic to hide the verb error it contains. After the semicolon, the subject of the sentence is “this mechanical illusion,” which is singular. This is followed by a modifying phrase that describes the subject. It is only after this modifying phrase that the verb “were” appears. However, “were” is plural, which does not match our singular subject. Thus, any answer choice that maintains the verb “were” is incorrect. Therefore, we can eliminate choices (A), (B) and (D).
Now that we are down to just choices (C) and (E), we want to look for an error in one of these that allows us to eliminate it. When we examine choice (E), we find that it introduces an error into the modifying phrase. In both choices (C) and (E) the word “which” refers to the illusion, but (E) implies that the illusion defeated players. Because the chess master, and not the illusion, defeated Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin, (E) is incorrect and can be eliminated.
This leaves answer (C) as the only choice remaining, which is the correct answer.
Let’s consider the common category of GMAT Sentence Correction errors often called ‘usage and style.’ These errors are based on accepted usage and tend to deal with word choice and idioms. Because there are no universal rules, you need memorize any idioms you do not already know.
In symbiotic relationships, one organism may live on or inside another, or simply be related to the other by mutual behavior, but all types of symbiosis evolve because both organisms derive a benefit from the other.
(A) both organisms derive a benefit from the other
(B) both organisms derive a benefit from each other
(C) each organism derives a benefit from the other
(D) each organism derives a benefit from one another
(E) the organisms both derive a benefit from each other
The original sentence states, “both organisms derive a benefit from the other.” However, “both” and “from the other” is redundant – since the relationship is between two organisms and both benefit, the only source of that benefit can be the other organism. On this basis we can eliminate choices (A), (B) and (E), as all three contain the redundancy error.
Option (D), while not redundant, can also be eliminated. “Each…derives…from one another” is considered an unidiomatic and wordy construction. Choice (C) uses the idiomatically correct “each…derives…from the other.” Thus, choice (C) is correct and can be selected as the right answer.
June 13, 2011
Today we will be looking at a sentence correction problem that features a pronoun error. Pronoun errors are fairly common on the GMAT, so you want to be ready for them. Remember, when you see a pronoun, it must match its antecedent (the word it is replacing) in number and it must be unambiguous – that is, you must know without any doubt what the pronoun’s antecedent is.
During World War II, “code talkers” were Native American soldiers that were specifically recruited to develop codes based in the Navajo language; these codes made any intercepted communications virtually indecipherable.
(A) that were specifically recruited to develop codes based in the Navajo language
(B) who were specifically recruited to develop codes based in the Navajo language
(C) that used the Navajo language to develop the codes they were specifically recruited for
(D) that, when specifically recruited, developed codes based on the Navajo language
(E) who were specifically recruited to develop codes based on the Navajo language
When analyzing the sentence, notice the relative pronoun “that” at the beginning of the underlined portion. “That” is used to refer to the Native American soldiers. However, because Native American soldiers are people, rather than objects, the pronoun “that” is incorrect. Instead, the sentence should use the pronoun “who.”
If you scan the answer choices, you will see find that options (A), (C) and (D) all use maintain the use of “that,” which we know is incorrect. Therefore, we can eliminate choices (A), (C) and (D).
This leaves (B) and (E) as possible answers. The only difference between these two choices is the preposition used after “based.” Thus, in order to solve this problem, we need to know the correct idiom. As idioms are based on common usage rather than grammatical rules, you simply need to memorize any idioms you do not know. In this case, the preposition “on” should be used after the verb “to base.” Therefore, we can eliminate choice (B), as it incorrectly uses the preposition “in.” We are left with option (E) as the only remaining answer, which is correct.
By Guest Author Kurt Keefner
A lot of Kaplan’s GMAT students struggle with Sentence Correction. Probably most of the people reading this post have some trouble with it. But why should that be? Presumably everyone reading this speaks English.
That’s the key to the puzzle right there. We all speak English, but the GMAT doesn’t test spoken English, it tests written English, otherwise know as Standard English. Unless you are trained as a writer or normally read university-level texts, your exposure to Standard English may be fragmentary and/or faded.
One remedy for this situation is to read well-written books and periodicals such as The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. (The Economist is well written, but in British English, which is slightly different from the American Standard English tested on the GMAT.) Your Kaplan course materials will also provide a review of many of the commonly tested usages. Just to get you started, however, let’s look at six problem words and phrases that come up within GMAT Sentence Correction questions.
Different from. This is a prepositional idiom that many people get wrong. Correct usage is to say that “red is different from blue”. “Different than” is incorrect (although “other than” is correct). Those of you who speak some variety of British English may say “different to.” That is acceptable when addressing the Queen, but not on the GMAT.
However. Students regularly think that “however” is a conjunction, like “although.” Actually, “however” is an adverb, like “whenever” and “whoever” and means “to whatever degree” or “in whatever manner.” It does not always imply a contrast. For example, “However you got to work, I am glad to see you” does not mean “Despite the fact that you got to work, I am glad to see you.” The GMAT will try to trick you into substituting “although” or “even though” for it. Don’t fall for the trap!
Not only . . . but also. There are two traps associated with this correlative conjunction. The first is not realizing that whenever there is a “not only” there must be a “but also.” It is not enough to say just “but” or nothing at all. Only the full construction is good enough for the GMAT. The second trap lies in taking the two things being correlated as equal, as if they were joined by “and.” In reality the second item should always represent a farther step than the first, for example: “Your promotion is not only good for you but good also for your co-workers.” Notice that the words “but” and “also” can be correctly separated.
Between A and B. When speaking of options people frequently say “I can choose A or B.” That is correct. But if you say “between,” you must say “and,” not “or,” as in “I can choose between A and B.” The reason for this is simple: if you are standing on your driveway with your house on one side and your car on the other, you would say that you are between your house and your car. You would never say “or” when you use “between” literally. You should not say “or” when you use it metaphorically, either.
Two problems with Like. The word “like” is overused. It means “similar to.” It does not mean “for example.” For that you might wish to say “such as.” Example: “I listen to a lot of baroque music, such as concertos by Bach.” Also “like” and “just like” do not mean the same thing. “Like” refers to a similarity. “Just like” means “identical in the relevant respect.” For example, “Like my friend Harriet, I studied hard for the GMAT” doesn’t mean you studied the very same number of hours. But “Just like my friend Harriet, I got into Wharton and Kellogg,” means you got into exactly the same two schools.
GMAT sentence correction is all about details, but most mistakes come from just a few major categories of grammar so if you can master these, you should do well.
May 25, 2011
Today’s advanced GMAT sentence correction problem revolves around a modification error. Remember to watch out for modifying phrases at the beginning of a sentence – they must refer to whatever comes directly after them.
Running off-Broadway for 17,162 performances over 42 years, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones adapted The Fantasticks from Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play Les Romanesques.
(A) Running off-Broadway for 17,162 performances over 42 years, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones adapted The Fantasticks from Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play Les Romanesques.
(B) The Fantasticks, which ran off-Broadway for 17,162 performances over 42 years, was adapted by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones from Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play Les Romanesques.
(C) The Fantasticks, which ran off-Broadway for 17,162 performances over 42 years and was adapted by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones adapted from Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play Les Romanesques.
(D) Running through 17,162 performances over 42 years off-Broadway, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones had adapted The Fantasticks from Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play Les Romanesques.
(E) Adapted from Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play Les Romanesques, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones ran The Fantasticks off-Broadway for 17,162 performances over 42 years.
The original sentence opens with the modifying phrase “running off-Broadway for 17,162 performances over 42 years,” which is followed by a comma. In order for the sentence to be correct, whatever ran off-Broadway must come after this comma. However, the sentence puts Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones after the comma, making it seem as if they ran off-Broadway, rather than their play. All answer choices that maintain this error must be wrong. Therefore, we can eliminate options (A), (D) and (E), as they all make similar modification errors.
While option (C) fixes the initial modification error, it introduces a new one. “The Fantasticks” is followed by a comma and the word “which.” In this construction everything that follows the word “which,” until another comma appears, is part of a modifying phrase. However, in choice (C) a second comma is never used, making the entire sentence after “The Fantasticks” a modifier. This is problematic, as the sentence has no verb, making it a fragment. Option (C) is, therefore, incorrect and should be eliminated.
This leaves choice (B) as the only remaining answer. Thus, (B) must be correct.