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Primary Purpose

This video is about the primary purpose of the passage or, why did the author write the passage? That’s essentially the question and what primary purpose means. So let’s take a look here at this part that I’ve exerted from the entire passage. Now, the reason I was able to home in on this, is because the primary purpose is usually located in two places.

It’s a combination of what you see in the first paragraph, which is often to give you context. And then most importantly what you find in the last paragraph. And that can oftentimes come at the end of the very last paragraph. What is everything driving towards? So we read the first paragraph which I haven’t excerpted here but which essentially says that we’ve long known that the brain is plastic but it’s even more plastic than we maybe thought.

So, we get this part that comes now here at the very end of the last paragraph. To substantiate such a claim about plasticity, researchers must demonstrate more convincingly the relationship between the ability of existing human OD to replace old OD and the speed of myelin generation. Moreover, scientists need to show that myelin regeneration is not the only significant factor to contribute to brain plasticity.

In other words the primary purpose is to evaluate the study and then tell us that they’re on the right track but more needs to be done. So to discuss possible findings and ways in which those findings can be made more valid. Now it’s really important that I come up with the primary purpose in my own words. The reason it’s important is the answer choices are crafted in such a way that they easily distort our thinking.

I oftentimes say don’t let the answer choices do the thinking for you. Nowhere is this more true it seems than the primary purpose questions. In which the answer choices are usually pretty vague, where all of a sudden you begin to misinterpret the passage if you read the answer choices without first putting in your own words the point of the passage. But we’ve done that here.

So, hopefully we could be on guard. Now, before we go there, I want to review really quickly, four things to look for in the wrong answer types on the primary purpose. One is that the answer choice can be too general or vague and that is it it discusses the topic, but then has stuff that is so unrelated or vague. That it’s not specific enough to actually tell us why the author wrote the passage in the first place.

Just as something can be too general it can be too specific. Sometimes great trap answers on primary purpose questions are those that are a good primary purpose or summary of just one of the paragraphs. So be careful not to choose something that’s too specific or summarizes only one of the three paragraphs of a long passage. Next we have that mentions something that isn’t in the passage.

This is one that usually isn’t as tricky because it brings in information that wasn’t even mentioned. And finally the rotten spot which is a wrong answer choice that we’ve already gone over is common on the primary purpose. Where everything looks like it’s going fine and then they throw in a word or two towards the end that derails everything and makes the answer choice invalid.

So let’s take a look here at the primary purpose of the passage followed by five answer choices starting with A. Discuss a new line of research and ways that it can improve our understanding of the way in which the brain functions. I kind of like this, this new line of research, sure, about how the brain is more plastic than we thought.

But let’s be on guard. Let’s not try to say, oh, I like this about the answer choice, therefore it’s correct. Put on our analytical hats and see if we could find what’s weak or rotten in this answer choice. Ways that it can improve our understanding of the way in which the brain functions.

Well, that’s a little bit too high level. It’s probably better in terms of our understanding of the way that myelin regeneration works. And more than that, it’s about trying to understand if these researchers were on the right track. The purpose is to say they were, but they need to do more.

And so this, ways it can improve our understanding of the way in which the brain functions, totally misses the point that it evaluated research and figured out or discussed ways that research could be improved. So it is simply too general, too vague towards the end there. B, question the results of the findings of a study by pointing out several oversights on the parts of researchers.

Now, does he question the results of the finding? Sort of, he says they need to go a little bit further. But what are these so called oversights? Does it mention these oversights in the passage? Now you may think, well it doesn’t but there must have been some oversights because he doesn’t agree with them.

But his purpose is to show or to tell us what these researchers should do in the future to make their findings more valid. But he doesn’t actually point out specific oversights. C, evaluate research findings and discuss ways in which these findings are flawed. Does he evaluate research findings? Yes.

Do you stop reading when you get to there? No, you keep reading. Discuss ways in which these findings are flawed. Now to say something is flawed is to say it is wrong. He however or she, the author of the passage says that the findings are tentative, more work needs to be done.

That is not the same as flawed. Therefore we go on to a different answer choice. Because we found that rotten spot, that word flaw. That one word that undid everything. Next discuss a theory and offer up several reservations about the validity of that theory.

Well are they discussing a theory? More or less that the brain is more plastic than we thought. And, then does he offer up several reservation about that theory? Yes. About ways that it can be improved. Now, this doesn’t perfectly match up with our answer choice that we thought of originally, but it’s not perfect.

And you’re going to find this often times on primary purposes that it’s not going to be exactly what you were thinking or even that close. It’s going to be slightly different, but if it’s not wrong, it is often times the best answer. So let’s look at E. Is E better than D?

Propose a theory in regards to how the brain is able to grow and regenerate after trauma. Now, this able to grow and regenerate after trauma is very specific to the third paragraph. It’s more about the brain’s plasticity. And, of course, you could argue the brain’s plasticity has, overlaps a lot of that regeneration after trauma.

But wait a second. Propose a theory? He actually evaluates a theory, he doesn’t propose a theory. And therefore it confuses evaluating research with the people who actually did the research. So, guess what?

Therefore D is our answer. And you have to be agile like that and not get rid of something right of the bat because it doesn’t quite work. Again we’re looking for the best answer. And that’s what often times happen in primary purpose questions is you will have to find the answer that is best and the one of course the matches your answer of what the primary purpose was

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