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Advanced Question Types

This video will go over an advanced question type which I call the if, then. And what I have here of course is the passage in which we will use a specific if, then question, so you might wanna pause the video and re-familiarize yourself with this passage. Okay, let’s talk specifically about the if, then. The phrase, which of the following, if true, would.

That is the if, then question type. What follows is usually a theory, and a weakening of the theory or a supporting of the theory. It’s very simple, or similar to the paragraph argument question where you are weakening or, in some cases, strengthening the argument. In this case we have undermine which means to weaken.

So which of the following, if true, would weaken the theory the author of the passage provides for the sudden disappearance of the Olmec? The issue here is you wanna go back and rather go straight into the answer choices. Dive into them, and look for something that sounds familiar. What you don’t wanna do is to actually force yourself to go back to passage and look for that the question is talking about.

We have here a theory. There’s a theory the author provides about the sudden disappearance of the Olmec. That’s why it’s a good idea when you actively read to remember where that is mentioned. It is mentioned towards the end. Here is his theory.

So you go back and you read this. And after reading that, don’t rush back down to the answer choices, but take that quick, mental snapshot, by describing the theory, in your own words. And here’s, are my own words, and I’m guessing your shouldn’t be too different. In fact, you can even write yours down, before looking at mine. And here they are, Olmec couldn’t adapt to ecological changes because people didn’t trust leadership so feuding began.

Obviously, a terribly written sentence, that’s not the point, you’re just trying to get the just and I think this covers the main point in very few words. Now, the point of doing this is gonna be a lot easier to evaluate the answer choices when you have this in your head. You know what the theory is.

But, there’s an extra step that will make things even easier, and that is to actually anticipate what the right answer must look like. Based on this, that the Olmec couldn’t adapt to ecologically changes because people didn’t trust leadership. Well, one way to weaken that is people did trust leadership. Or that they did successfully adapt to ecological changes.

And so what we’re gonna do is anticipate the answer. It must look something like this. Olmec were able to adapt to changes but something else caused the downfall. Or Olmec leadership was successful, but something else caused the downfall, so now, let’s keep that there, our anticipated answer, and let’s go through each one of the answer choices.

(A) Some of the flooding that resulted came not from any diverted tributaries but from rainfall that intensified over the course of a decade. So now it’s saying that flooding wasn’t a result of geographical changes, but of meteorological changes. This talks back to the very beginning of this passage, and doesn’t really quite speak directly to the theory that the author has come up with.

And, so it’s tempting, cuz it speaks about some other part of the passage, but it’s not what we are dealing with. And also the fact that some of the flooding resulted not from diverting tributaries doesn’t mean that some of the flooding did come from diverted tributaries. So out with (A).

(B) Not all the major subsistence crops were planted along the C river. Okay, soven if that is the case, maybe a lot of the major subsistence crops were planted along the C river, and therefore the flooding that resulted, whether from diverted tributaries or otherwise caused some major issues in the subsistence crops. Had it said all the major subsistence crops were planted along, or none of the major subsistence crops were planted along the C river.

That would’ve been slightly different. Then perhaps that would be a valid answer, or at least somewhat close. Let’s take a look at (C), internal dissent was long offered as a theory for the disappearance of the Mayans, but in recent years, there has been near unanimous agreement that this disappearance can most likely be attributed to meteorological phenomenon.

Be really careful here. I know there are a lot of words in here, but you should probably notice where it mentions the Mayans, we’re dealing with the Olmec. And, so what happened to the Mayans isn’t really relevant. Sure, they also disappeared, but they were a different people, so out with C. (D) As a result of major ecological change, the Olmec split into several groups that were in persistent conflict over diminished resources.

So what is (D) saying? (D) is telling us exactly what the author’s theory is. As a result of this change, they split into groups and they were in conflict. We wanna weaken this theory. Remember, we wanna say that Olmec were able to adapt to the changes, they weren’t necessarily in persistent conflict, but something else caused their downfall.

Let’s take a look at (E), the Olmec leadership successfully relocated settlements near one of the new tributaries of the C river, yet years of constant flooding brought on by heavy rains precluded the growth of subsistence crops. So, by relocating settlements, and the crops they were able to adapt to the ecological changes.

So, it implies that leadership was effective. What got them was this constant flooding that kept on going on. And, they could never build or grow crops, the crops that they needed to exist on. They weren’t able to do so, and therefore that is the additional factor, that’s something else that caused their downfall. And therefore, that would most undermine the author’s theory.

So, again, to run through what we did, we read the question. We knew the question type, which of course is the if, then. And we went for the theory. What is this theory? Because again, a lot of these if, then’s, if not most of them will deal some theory weakening or strengthening it.

We read what that theory is, we simplified it in our own words and then we anticipated the answer going through each one of the answer choices to find the best one.

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