Over the last two weeks, we have delved deep into the Reading Comprehension Questions on the GRE Test. Not only did we look at tips to increase the pace of our reading, we also looked at different question types – structure-based, summary-based and inference based, that appear on the GRE Test. In this article, let us focus on the inference based questions, often considered the most difficult, in depth.
Inference-based questions evaluate you on your understanding of the author’s thought process in the passage and draw on it to infer information not directly mentioned. It could be an extrapolation of the author’s stance on a particular topic or a course of action based on a series of events mentioned in that passage. The tips we have shared in our previous article with regards to elimination of options holds true here too.
Consider an excerpt from an article by Hani D Freeman & Samuel D Gosling –
A recent comprehensive review of empirical research of primate personalities indicates that primate personality dimensions can be divided into 14 broad categories, including sociability, fearfulness, playfulness, impulsiveness, curiosity and irritability and the findings generally support the reliability of primate personality rating scales but also identify several gaps in the research literature. For example, the review revealed that personality has been examined in only a tiny proportion of all primate species. The summary of findings can inform work in zoos, sanctuaries, and research facilities where personality differences can impact animal management and research issues, both from the standpoint of animals and the people working with them.
According to the passage, which of the following can be inferred as a gap in the study of primate personalities?
- The findings of the studies can only be applied to animal management in zoos and sanctuaries
- The primate population studied is not representative of the entire primate population
- The study is limited to only apes and monkeys and not the other primates that exist in the world
- Only 14 categories are studied and all other characteristics are ignored
- The study of primates is limited to certain areas accessible to humans
In the passage the author cites a gap in the study and quotes an example that the study has only been limited to a tiny proportion of all primate species. We can, therefore, infer that the primate population studied is not representative of the entire primate population. Thus, option (b) is the right answer. Option (e) has not been even hinted at in the paragraph and thus it is incredulous to infer from the information given. Option (c) could be possible but however the passage does not explicitly mention which species were covered in the study and therefore cannot be inferred. Option (a) speaks about the application of the findings being limited and therefore is not relevant while option (d), again a possible candidate for the right answer, is not being spoken about as a gap.
The author hasn’t expressed displeasure on the different characteristics that were studied in the primates his major concern was that not all species of primates were studied.
Tips for reading comprehension
Improve comprehension skills
Though significant number of international students take the GRE Test, the majority of the GRE Test Takers are still Americans. No wonder then that the passages you come across in the Reading Comprehension section focus on issues relevant to American Culture and History such as Racism, Civil War, Women’s Movements, Democracy and other America specific topics. And it pays to read up a little more on these topics – contextual awareness in these areas will strongly improve your comprehension of the topic.
Read lot and read widely. Topics can come from different areas – government, education, human rights, arts & culture and science. Don’t limit your reading to a few specific areas. News Papers through their weekly focus on all these different areas provide an easy access to these diverse topics. Include reading the newspapers, either online or offline, as a part of your daily routine. And when you read, pay attention to the logical structure of the passages too – contexts can change but the writing structure generally doesn’t and your comfort with this writing structure can enhance not just your reading speeds but also your comprehension abilities.
Reading widely is good but as highlighted in our previous articles, an ability to answer intelligently by eliminating some of the options is key to scoring high on the RC questions. And this is possible only when you solve different kinds of questions. And given that the GRE is an Online Test, make sure you practice online too. Good luck with Verbal Reasoning Section on the GRE Test.
This article - authored by Mr Mohamed Abdullah, was originally published in Telangana Today on 5th June 2017.