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Wrong Answer Trap: The Wrong Detail
There are many ways that wrong answers are written on the TOEFL. But one of the most common, is that a detail, is simply not the right detail, from the text, to answer the question. So, let’s see what I mean by that. Normally, when you’re answering a detailed question, the first thing you do is find a keyword.
So, this is important because it decides what you look at in the passage. So in your question, you’ve got question one here, and there’s going to be some keyword in question one. You’re going to see that, and then you’re going to look back at the text. You have a very long text, it will tell you which paragraph. You will have a specific paragraph.
And in that somewhere you will see a keyword or a synonym. Okay, when you see that, you know to look at that part of the text. Sometimes, wrong answers look at the the wrong part of the text, so if you have the keyword and you look at the right sentence then you won’t be distracted by this, but if you look at some wrong answer. And you see this wrong answer looks similar to something that is down here in the passage, you might be tempted by this wrong answer, because it looks like the text.
But it is not about the question. The question is about a different part of the passage. You need to make that link. Because these wrong answers can look very similar to things that are in the text, but it’s the wrong part of the text. So, here’s an example of a question.
First we should find our keywords. In paragraph 2, what is shared by the clones within a colony? And I notice here, this clones within a colony. It’s not about just clones in general. It’s not about a colony. It’s about specific clones inside the colony, this within becomes an important word.
So I want clones inside a colony. That’s my key. And I look in my text in paragraph 2, and I see this about individuals here. Those individuals are within a colony. It’s a clonal colony is a group of individuals, so they are inside the colony, right?
And when we talk about clonal colonies in general down here and species, these are not about individuals, they are not within the colony. So that is not part of the passage that probably answers the question. Instead, we should look at this, individuals that had grown in a given location, all originating vegetatively, not sexually, from a single ancestor. Okay, here we have information, details, that could answer the question.
So what is shared by the clones within a colony? We know that they are in the same location, and they all came from one ancestor. So both of those could be our answers. Let’s look at the answer choices here. And there’s in particular one I want to point out.
The genes of sexually produced offspring. This is the trap that I mentioned, because this topic is in the text. We see in this sentence, a bunch of information about the sexual reproduction, the offspring, the genes. It looks very similar to that answer choice, but it’s about the wrong part of the text this is not about sharing within a colony.
That part of the text is about a general statements about species and colonies in general, so that makes it incorrect. It’s in the text, but it’s not the answer to the question. These ones are kind of similar, but they’re a little bit more distorted. The physical distance is similar to location, but it’s not the same. We don’t have a distance from the plant in location.
And production of seeds is related to the seed production. But it is not a seed production system. So there are some key words here that are just not in the passage. They look similar, but they’re a little bit distorted. This topic, the distance from a parent plant isn’t in the text and the systems of how seeds are produced is not in the text either, so both of these are wrong even though they look almost like the text, and notice, by the way, also seed production systems.
Seed production was part of the wrong part of the paragraph. It was not about the individuals. Seed production was only mentioned in a sentence about clonal colonies, in general. The correct answer is going to be here, a common progenitor. And a progenitor was defined earlier in the text.
It said that the progenitor was the parent plant from which all the other plants are produced. So this is a very difficult word. You would not see this on the TOEFL without some definition, some explanation in the text. The sample text had that word earlier, but even if you didn’t know the word, then this elimination by looking at whether it’s actually in the right part of the text or if it distorts the information like physical distance and the systems.
You can get rid of these and still be left with one answer. So, basically link the question to the passage with the keyword. And then, be careful about the wrong answers that look similar to other parts.
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