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Answer Traps

In this video, we will talk about common answer traps in reading comprehension questions. Basically, you’ll come out of this video understanding what makes a wrong answer choice wrong. So, some different kinds of wrong answer choice traps you can expect. First one is subtle.

But what the test writers will do, is they will take words that are from the relevant part of the passage in which you’re gonna answer the question from. They’re gonna take words from there, and they’re gonna kinda twist them around and come up with a meaning that isn’t in the passage. The reason why this is a trap answer is a lot of students gravitate towards the familiar words.

So it’s not just this word salad, but it’s the actual meaning the words impart that are gonna give us the right answer. Another answer trap is even more subtle. It’s not in every question, but when it does show up it can easily trick you. It is true, that is the answer choice is correct, for a different question. So you can easily go back to the passage and say yeah, here’s the evidence, this is exactly what it’s saying, there’s no twisting of meanings.

However, if you read the question, it doesn’t actually answer the question. So another way of thinking about it, is it’s true based on the passage, but it’s in a different part of the passage. That and as far as true goes, we even have the broader it’s true, but it’s not actually mentioned in the passage. It’s almost commonsensical.

It’s a thing that most people know about the real world. And so we gravitate towards these answer choices, forgetting that our answer always has to be backed up with specific information in the passage. Another wrong answer trap is what I like to call the rotten spot. You know when you by a fruit, you typically make sure to look at the entire thing.

So, if I’m holding up an apple, I’m not just gonna look at the shiny red part right in front of me. I’m gonna wanna make sure the entire apple is red and shiny, and so what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna hold it in my hand and I’m gonna turn it around. And that parallels what we should be doing with the answer choice, reading every single word, not just half of the answer choice and saying oh that sounds good I like that, or even every word except for one because all it takes is that one word to make the answer choice wrong.

So be prepared for that. I should also mention that sometimes the answer choices are just flat out wrong, and you’re not gonna be spending your time going through all five of them very carefully. Often times there’s just two or sometimes three that are tricky. So, the other two are usually just flat out wrong.

Okay. Let’s take a look at a question here and apply the strategy. First off, this question is based on this passage here. So, you might wanna pause the video and read that. Okay. Let’s look at the question.

The passage mentions how both hemispheres of the brain respond to injury in order to do what? So we look here, and we can go down to the answer choices. And as soon as I get to A, you should say hey Chris, you just did something wrong. You didn’t answer the question in your own words. And so you can see how important that is.

And whenever we’re dealing with these questions, even if you know the wrong answer choice traps, always make sure to read the question and answer it yourself based on the relevant text. So, let’s do that now. Again the question is, how both hemispheres respond in injury Y in order to do what?

Well read the sentence here. Moreover, scientists need to show that myelin regeneration is not the only significant factor to contribute to brain plasticity. It’s not all about myelin and regeneration, it’s also about hemispheres. So plasticity can be defined as how well the two hemispheres work together. And so therefore, he mentions how the hemispheres of brains respond to injury to show that they can also be a measure of plasticity in the brain.

Now let’s look at A, discuss how myelin regeneration may serve a greater function than previously thought. Well that doesn’t quite match up with the answer that we had. But it does look nice because it has myelin regeneration, which is right there in the sentence. But, is the point mentioning both hemispheres to show us that myelin regeneration may have a greater function?

No, it’s that these two hemispheres working in tandem have a greater function that may of course overlap with plasticity. And therefore A doesn’t impart the right meaning, but takes elements in the passage, familiar words, and twists the meaning. Let’s look at B. Show that brain plasticity is not limited to one factor.

It’s not limited just to myelin regeneration, but to how the hemispheres communicate. So therefore, we have our answer. But we’re going of course for wrong answer traps. So let’s look at the other answer choices. Suggest that ODs might have a role in how the two hemispheres work.

Now you can see that this is a little tricky, cuz they’re throwing in the word OD or oligodendrocytes. This is very common. But, what? Well, I don’t have the relevant text here, but you can go back to another part of the passage, and you will actually get information that backs up this answer choice.

However, it does not actually answer this specific question the way that answer choice B does. So yes, you could find the evidence for C, but it doesn’t answer this specific question. Therefore, it is wrong. D, highlight one way in which stroke patients recover.

Well, it’s mentioning both hemispheres in the context of brain plasticity and how the two hemispheres may contribute to that plasticity. It really has nothing to do with stroke patients recovery. Of course that comes later on here, but that’s giving us an example of the hemispheres and of that plasticity in the hemispheres. E, question the connection between ODs and the speed in which myelin is replaced.

So what’s going on here? Well, we have the idea that ODs, speed in which myelin is replaced, but we have this questioning here. Is he really questioning what’s going on here? And another way to look at it is to think huh, is that what the passage is talking about?

The oligodendrocytes and the myelin? It’s more about the hemispheres and so you can see that this would simply be the wrong part of the passage. It may answer a question, it may not, but it’s from a different part of the passage. That’s similar to one of the other answer choices C, and so it’s important to note that you’re not always gonna get exactly the same answer traps for each question.

Sometimes you’ll have a smattering of them. Sometimes two or three may be flat out wrong in the easier questions. On harder questions like this one, you may get two that have the wrong part of the passage. So you can actually find them in the passage, but they don’t answer the specific question.

Now we’re not quite done yet. What I decided was to try this out again, and this time, give us a more difficult question in terms of the stem itself. This will allow us to practice the technique of simplifying and I think what it’s important when you go through these videos that you build upon the concepts, and so if you learned a concept in a prior video, you should try to apply it as much as possible to subsequent videos.

And so, we’ve learned about simplifying the question and it’s pretty long question. What do we do in terms of simplifying it? This is what I’ve come up with. Knowing how much human brain relies on both hemispheres, is not a strong basis for knowing how OD is related to plasticity because.

So I’ve taken this word, explosion, up here, and I made it a little bit easier. So make sure you read my simplified question. Hopefully, it’s simplified enough. If not, you may wanna simplify this. Okay, now that we’ve done that, here is the relevant text. When we’re done with reading the relevant text, remember we don’t wanna just dive into the answer choices, but we want to actually answer this ourselves.

So again, knowing how much the human brain relies on both hemispheres is not a strong basis for knowing how OD is related to plasticity because, well it seems that OD itself can play a role in how the hemispheres talk to each other or communicate or operate. And so we can’t say oh, well, if we know the hemispheres are involved this much into let’s say 40% of plasticity, the rest must be oligodendrocytes or ODs.

If there is an overlap there, meaning that if both hemispheres are to perform this task, they actually rely on OD, then it’s difficult to use OD to determine plasticity. So therefore, our answer to the question is OD might play a part in how the brain uses both hemispheres. We go through the answer choices now starting with A.

Brain trauma is rarely related to one side of the brain. Now you might think, huh, it’s rarely limited to one side of the brain. Sure, that’s what they talk about right? They talk about it happening both places. Or maybe it was about the hemispheres working together in regards to one side of the brain.

And so you start thinking your way through this, forgetting that you need a work back to the passage and back it up, and you need of course to match it with the answer that we came up with here. So A is wrong because simply it’s not really mentioned in the passage and don’t put in any common sense assumptions that if someone has brain trauma, it must affect the whole brain.

Not mentioned in the passage. B, myelin regeneration might not be the only measure of brain plasticity. So we look up at our answer choice. B sounds great, but is it the same thing? ODs might play a part in how the brain uses both hemispheres. Myelin regeneration might not be the only measure of brain plasticity.

This is a really tricky answer choice because it was mentioned. I actually brought it from the question we had before. It was the first sentence from the previous exerpt. But it makes such a tempting answer choice because it answers a different question. A question we, more or less just had. And you can see that when you actually go through the GRE and you’re answering these questions.

You answer one question, you answer two questions. On that third question, you’re bringing information from the other questions that’s kind of lingering in your head. And so you have to be very careful. B sounds great, but it definitely doesn’t answer the question. And remember, we’ve already answered the question ourselves and it has to match up.

The human brain is too complex for scientists to understand. This falls in the realm of wow commonsensical. I think we can all agree just how complex the brain is. Again, not based on this passage and it’s not the answer to the question that we are answering. Let’s look at D.

The ODs might be involved in how the brain uses both hemispheres. Look at our answer. OD might play a part in how the brain uses both hemispheres, very similar. Therefore, D is the answer. Finally E. Only recently scientists have begun to use human brains to understand how new cells grow.

Is that backed up in the passage? Do you think it maybe kind of suggests it? Seems to somewhat? Well that doesn’t sound like a right GRE answer choice to me. And in terms of how new cells grow, it does mention new cells, but in terms of rat brains and mice brains.

So, definitely E is not the correct answer. Okay. So let’s look at it, a more general level, just to recap what’s going on here. When you’re dealing with these traps, know them. Watch this video again if necessary. Anticipate these common traps.

Go through the actual GRE material and the official guide and practice on there. Go through their answer choices. Pick the one that you think is right. Back it up. Now, look at the other answer choices. What kind of answer traps do you see?

Of course, knowing these traps. You’ve been going through this video a hundred times, which of course I don’t recommend. It’s not a substitute for actually understanding the passage. You still have to read, you still have to use your active reading techniques. Your understanding of meaning and how ideas connect, all that stuff.

That’s paramount. And what’s also paramount or very important is that you answer the question in your own words. At least as much possible. Don’t dive to the answer choices, and even if you start figuring out what kind of traps they are, you first have to figure out what the answer to the question is.

Of course. Finally, I’ll reiterate the fact that you don’t actually have to spend your time always going through each wrong answer choice. That is pretty time-consuming. It’s really when you come down to two or maybe three answer choices and you’re not quite sure.

Like a second ago, we had answer choice B that was really tempting, cuz it reminded us of a different question, and of course, we had D the answer. At that point you wanna say, well wait a second, can’t have two right answers. Let me think of my common answer traps. Which answer trap is going on in one of these questions. Then, you are definitely using this video and the information in here to your advantage.

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