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Over the next couple of videos, I’m going to be using this passage instead of the other one I was using on the Nigerian writer Tutola. So I encourage you to read this, and indeed, you may actually recognize this from the very beginning. One of the lesson videos we talked about what a GRE passage is and this happens to be this exact passage.
So if you wanna read it, please pause the video now. Okay, let’s actually go to what the point of this lesson is about, and that is the structure question, which is a question that asks about a specific function of a sentence, within the passage, and how that sentence relates to the other sentences around it. So here’s an example, which of the following best describes the primary function of the third sentence?
Asks us about a specific sentence. So, what we do in terms of an approach. This is important, because it’s very easy to just reread this sentence right here called the reference sentence, and then dive into the answer choices. Do not do that. Instead, read the reference sentence, and then describe it in your own words, simplify that sentence.
Next, read the sentence before the reference sentence. And then in your own words, describe what the function of the reference sentence is. I know that last part sounds a little convoluted, so what we’re gonna do in the next few slides is to go over each approach. So let’s start here with read referenced sentence and then describe it in your own words.
Here it is, the referenced sentence is the third sentence. The sea river, the main river passing through La Venta, could have had notable tributaries diverted as a result of a catastrophic earthquake, leading to not only severe flooding in certain areas, but also a lack of sufficient water for subsistence crops, and I’ll kind of stop there. There’s a lot going on, but simplifying it isn’t too difficult.
It talks about a river that changed its course because of a big earthquake, and now they have problems with crops. Again, we’re not writing this down, but we’re doing these little mental snapshots. A big earthquake could have caused river to become diverted, leading to loss of crops. Now we have that, we go to the second strategy, which is to read the sentence before the reference sentence, meaning sentence number two, and then describe what the function of the reference sentence is.
So we’re not simplifying the sentence before, we’re just reading it. Much of this research, however, has overlooked the role that changing geography, most notably the course of rivers, played. And then in our own words we came up with, well the sentence right after this sentence, sentence number three, was about a big earthquake could have caused a river to become diverted.
A-ha, all this is doing is offering support to this hypothesis up here. So the function, it gives an example of the change in geography. And so if this were an easy question, or even a somewhat medium level question, A could be the answer, provides an example supporting the theory regarding geographical changes. Perfectly fine answer.
Now, if this was a harder section, the answer may be a little more subtle. And what the test writers do on these structure questions is to use a little bit vaguer language. Instead of mentioning geographical changes, they kind of hide that fact and talk at things at a very abstract or high level. So I’ve come up with four entirely new answer choices, one of which is the answer.
We’ll just pretend A was some other random answer that was completely wrong so we’ve gotten rid of it. And what I want you to do is now pause the video and, using the technique, which you really don’t have to do since we did it together, but remembering what we came up with using the technique, see if you can answer the question. Okay, I assume you’ve paused the video to do so.
Let’s take a look at B, to provide direct support for a theory that is mentioned in the first sentence. You can see now how the test writers can be because what? First sentence. Wait a second, sentence three was providing direct support for a theory mentioned in the second sentence, therefore first sentence is not correct and B is wrong.
C, to introduce the role meteorological conditions played in the change in crop subsistence patterns. We shifted from meteorological to geographical, so out with C. D, to highlight evidence offered up by most scholarship on the disappearance of the Olmec. It says much of this research, however, has overlooked this what we’re talking about here, not that much scholarship is actually devoted to it, so it’s kind of the opposite.
Leaving us with E, to provide a specific example supporting a hypothesis that differs from that, meaning the hypothesis. Be clear that, that means the hypothesis mentioned in the first sentence, kind of convoluted, kind of confusing, definitely not the answer that we came up with. But, by doing a little dissecting, we can see that, well, it does provide support for hypothesis that’s mentioned in the second sentence.
And of course that hypothesis differs from the hypothesis mentioned in the first sentence, and therefore E is our answer. So the takeaway here, again, is to follow that strategy, but especially on harder sections, be prepared for more of this abstract language, such as direct support for a theory, or example supporting a hypothesis or to highlight evidence.
And also, be prepared for these little twists here such as we saw in B, where they’re trying to confuse us. And make sure that on the answer choice E, that you’re able to follow the twists and turns of the answer choice itself, because oftentimes the correct answer will have those twists and turns.
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