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1. The mathematical constant ‘e’, the base of the natural logarithm, is transcendental, and is therefore irrational. In 1882, the mathematician Johann Heinrich Lambert proved that the number ‘pi’ is irrational. Pi must therefore be transcendental.

Which of the following statements, if true, most weakens the conclusion drawn above about the number pi?

(A)     The exact value of transcendental numbers cannot be given.

(B)     The number √2 is irrational but not transcendental.

(C)      The mathematician Fernard von Lindermann used the fact that e is transcendental to prove that pi is transcendental.

(D)     The number ┌3 is transcendental but not irrational.

(E)     It is extremely difficult to prove that a number is transcendental.

This question asks you to weaken the conclusion, which states that pi must be transcendental. The key phrase here is “must be”: we know ‘e’ to be transcendental and therefore irrational, but all we’re told about pi is that it is irrational, so the conclusion that pi must therefore be irrational is unfounded. Pi might be irrational (and in fact is), but the information in the passage can’t logically lead us to that conclusion. A statement weakening the conclusion will show that pi is not necessarily transcendental. Choices A, C and E are irrelevant. Choice B states that a number can be irrational and not transcendental; this shows that pi is therefore not necessarily transcendental. Choice D gives us the reverse of what we want: it tells us that a number can be transcendental and not irrational. We already know that pi is irrational, so this doesn’t weaken the conclusion. Choice B does, and is the best answer.

2. The ancient Greek word askesis, from which the adjective ‘ascetic’ derives, means practice, training, or exercise, and was originally used in reference to any sort of disciplined practice. Today, the word ‘ascetic’ is primarily associated with the renunciation of worldly pursuits for the purpose of spiritual gain. However, anyone can choose to practice asceticism.

Which of the following can be correctly inferred from the passage above?

(A)    The only people practicing asceticism today are monks, yogis or priests.

(B)     Asceticism no longer refers to any disciplined practices other than those undertaken for spiritual gain.

(C)      The ancient Greeks often incorporated principles of asceticism into their daily lives.

(D)     The word ‘asceticism’ can be used independent of religious connotation.

(E)     E. Ascetics consider worldly affairs more important than spiritual gain.

This question asks you to identify the statement that has been correctly inferred from the passage. Because ‘infer,’ for GMAT purposes, is essentially synonymous with ‘must be true,’ the question is actually asking you to determine which statement can be logically derived from the information given in the passage. Choices A and B are extreme; the passage states that the word ‘ascetic’ is primarily associated with religious ascetics, but there could be other types of ascetics as well. Choice C incorrectly identifies the Greek word, ‘askesis,’ with the meaning of the English word ‘ascetic’. Choice D is a correctly inferred statement: because the passage states both that ‘ascetic’ is only primarily associated with renouncing worldly pursuits for the spiritual, and because it further says that ‘anyone’ can choose to practice asceticism, it must therefore be true that ‘asceticism’ is not used exclusively to refer to a religious practice. Choice E is the opposite of what is stated in the passage. Choice D is the only statement that can be logically inferred from the passage, and is the best answer.

3. The popularity in the past year of network TV shows featuring supernatural events is not a sign of social decline, as some have said, but is simply the result of a shift in viewer demographics. Recent studies have confirmed this theory. One study showed that in the past year, the percentage of network television viewers who are also avid comic books readers has increased 20%.

The flaw in the argument above is most similar to which of the following errors of reasoning?

(A)    Mistaking correlation for causation

(B)     Mistaking causation for correlation

(C)      Making unfounded assumptions

(D)     Providing insufficient support for premises

(E)     There is no flaw in the argument.

This question asks you to identify the reasoning in the passage. The argument opens with the author’s conclusion; after stating her position, she then goes on to offer support for her conclusion via a recent study; and finally restates her conclusion. However, her premise (which is supposed to provide evidence for the truth of her conclusion) does not support her conclusion. Her mistake is assuming that an increase in viewers who also like to read comic books caused an increase in shows about supernatural events. That’s not necessarily true; the increase in this type of viewer could be entirely coincidental. The author has assumed a correlative relationship to be causative; choice A, ‘mistaking correlation for causation’, is therefore the best answer. Choice B reverses the error. Choice C is vague. Choice D describes an error in the premises, whereas the error in the passage lies in the relationship between the premise and the conclusion. Choice E is untrue. Choice A accurately describes the flaw in the argument, and is therefore the correct choice.

4. After studying ceramic pieces found in a seaport in Israel, archaeologists determined that the Philistines, an ancient people who settled in the Aegean Sea region around 1200 BC, were able to read and write in an undeciphered, non-Semitic language. This proves that, contrary to previous beliefs, the Philistines were actually a cultured and literate people.

Which of the following, if true, offers the most support for the conclusion drawn in the passage above?

(A)    Tamil, a classical language of India and Sri Lanka, dates back to 500 BC.

(B)     The Philistines also had refined pottery and sophisticated architecture.

(C)      The language spoken by the Philistines is less sophisticated than other languages spoken at that time.

(D)     Archaeological research suggests that the Philistines had cultural ties to the Myceneans, in Greece.

(E)     The Philistines held a monopoly on iron smithing consistent with the Biblical descriptions of Goliath’s armor.

This question asks you to strengthen the conclusion reached in the passage. The conclusion that the Philistines were literate is supported by the passage, but the conclusion that they were cultured is not: though we can assume that literacy implies culture, we’re given no evidence of this in the passage. Choice A is irrelevant; we are concerned with the Philistines, not the Tamil language. Choice B strengthens the conclusion by giving us evidence that the Philistines were cultured in addition to being literate. Choice C weakens the conclusion. Choice D is irrelevant; we might assume that the Greeks were cultured and thus that the Philistines were as well, we are given no evidence here of Greek cultural sophistication. Choice E strengthens the idea that the Philistines were perhaps a sophisticated people in other ways, but not that they were necessarily cultured. Choice B gives the best support for the conclusion, and is therefore the best answer.

5. In the secretarial schools of the mid-20 th century, accuracy of typing was valued as much as speed. Business letters were supposed to be error-free with no visible corrections, and on typing tests, deductions were made from the speed scoring for every error found. The development of so many varieties of correction methods and technologies in this time period is therefore somewhat of a mystery.

Which of the following, if true, would most weaken the conclusion drawn above?

(A)    Business letters were typed on a heavyweight paper that not only looked good, but could endure repeated erasure.

(B)     A special kind of typewriter paper called erasable bond was invented to allow easier removal of type from the page.

(C)      Typewriters are more difficult to type on than keyboards, and even the most sophisticated typewriters would sometimes jam.

(D)     In the mid-20 th century, typewriters were as ubiquitous as computers are today.

(E)     Typing mistakes were considered sufficient reason for firing a secretary.

This question asks you to weaken the conclusion reached by the author about typewriter correction methods. The passage states that typing accuracy was highly prized in secretarial schools, and that therefore the development of correction methods is a mystery. This conclusion can be weakened by providing evidence that there were valid reasons for the development of correction methods. Choices A and B are irrelevant; they merely provide information about certain kinds of correction methods. Choice C weakens the conclusion somewhat; it suggests that even sophisticated typists could make mistakes, but still doesn’t provide a reason for the invention of many types of correction methods. Choice D weakens the conclusion considerably. If typewriters were as widespread as computers are today, that means that almost everyone had one and that correction methods could have been invented for the average typist, regardless of professional secretarial standards. Choice E weakens the conclusion somewhat. Choice D weakens the conclusion the most, and is therefore the best answer.

6 . Though some reports have called the People’s Republic of China’s recently instated property law their first piece of legislation addressing the individual’s right to own private assets, this is not true; the right to private property was in fact written into the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China four years ago, in 2003.

The bolded phrase plays which of the following roles in the passage above?

(B)     Correction of a misconception

(C)      Refutation of a known fact

(D)     Support for a claim

(E)     Statement of identity

This question asks you to identify the reasoning in the passage. The unbolded portion of the passage contains a claim that reports about the new law in China are incorrect. The bolded portion contains support for that claim. Choice D is the best answer. Choices A, B and E do not describe the role played by the bolded phrase. Choice B describes the passage as a whole. Choice D is correct.

7.
A consulting firm is planning to start a new program allowing employees more control over their health coverage. Instead of having their level of coverage based solely on salary, the employees will now be able to choose from three plans, the least expensive of which is the same price as the current mid-level plan.

The company’s plan, as outlined in the passage above, assumes that

(A)    Employees will be willing to sacrifice a portion of their salaries for increased control over their coverage

(B)     The current least expensive plan offers inadequate coverage

(C)      Employees are tired of having their coverage determined by their salaries

(D)     The most basic of the three plans will include the same amount of coverage as the current least expensive plan

(E)     Higher-salaried employees will not be resentful of the plan

This question asks you to identify the assumption in the company’s plan to change their employee’s health care coverage. The plan is intended to give the employees more control over their coverage, but, because the least expensive plan costs as much as the current mid-level plan, it is also more expensive. The assumption, then, is that employees will be willing to pay more for their plans in exchange for the freedom to choose their own plans. This assumption is stated in choice A. Choices B and C are assumptions we might make about the reasons behind the company’s decision to change their plans, but neither is necessarily true. Choice D is not necessarily true either; again, this is an assumption one could make about the plans, but it isn’t necessary for the plan to work. Choice E is not a necessary assumption either; though they might hope this to be true, the company’s plan isn’t based on employee’s potential resentments. Choice A is the best answer.

8. Over the past three years, the crime rate in the city has steadily declined. Four years ago, a new mayor took office on a third party ticket whose platform included a tougher stance on crime and improved funding for after-school and other youth programs. Without this mayor’s leadership, it is certain that this positive change in the crime rate would never have occurred.

Which of the following statements, if true, would most weaken the argument above?

(A)    In the first year the mayor was in office, the crime rate rose by 1.5%.

(B)     Due to budget cuts, the mayor’s proposed funding for after-school and other youth programs was never implemented.

(C)      Three years ago, a new chief of police was appointed who instituted foot patrols in high crime areas.

(D)     The crime rate in neighboring cities has been on the rise for the past three years.

(E)     The after-school programs had an even higher rate of attendance than was expected.

This question asks you to weaken the argument. The author writes that without the new mayor’s leadership, the recent decline in the crime rate would not have occurred. However, the only evidence we’re given is that the mayor’s platform included anti-crime programs. To weaken the argument, find a statement that shows that the decline in the crime rate may have been caused by something other than the mayor’s taking office. Choice C suggests that it could have been caused at least in part by the new chief of police, whose increase in officers patrolling by foot could very well have made a positive impact on the crime rate. Choice A is irrelevant; we’re only concerned with the past three years. Choice B fails to weaken the conclusion because it’s possible that while the youth programs were never implemented, other anti-crime programs were. Choice D is irrelevant. Choice E strengthens the argument. Choice C weakens the argument, and is the best answer.

9 . Dialectology, a sub-field of linguistics that studies variations in a language, began as an effort to produce dialect maps, in which lines were drawn on a map indicating different dialect areas. In the late 1920s, dialectologists became more concerned with social factors and began taking social variation into account in their studies of dialect; this occurred as a result of structuralist developments in the study of language.

Which of the following statements, if true, would most strengthen the argument above?

(A)    After 1930, linguists no longer considered dialect maps useful in the study of dialect.

(B)     If not for structuralist developments in the study of language, psychologists may never have incorporated linguistic factors into their studies.

(C)      Structuralism is a linguistic approach that focuses on the relationships between elements and the social structures that result.

(D)     Some linguists consider dialectology is a social science due to its focus on social factors.

(E)     Though by the mid 20th century structuralism was one of the most popular and widespread academic approaches, in the 1930s it was still barely known.

This question asks you to strengthen the argument presented in the passage. The first sentence is primarily background information; an argument is then made in the second sentence that dialectologists began taking social factors into account as a result of structural developments in the study of language. To strengthen this argument, you must find a statement that supports the link between the changes in dialectology and the structuralist developments in the study of language. Choice A is irrelevant; it gives more evidence for the change in dialectology in the 1920s, but doesn’t tell us anything about why that change occurred. Choice B is irrelevant; we need information about the study of language, not psychology. Choice C provides this information: if structuralism focuses on social structures, then the argument that structuralism influenced dialectology’s incorporation of social factors is strengthened. Choice D is irrelevant (and untrue). Choice E weakens the argument. Choice C is the only statement that strengthens the argument, and is the best answer.

10. Mayor of town T decided to lower the sales tax in order to boost the sales volume and therefore increase the budget by eventually receiving more sales tax as the result of the increased sales volume. The mayor wants to follow the example of town J, where such an experiment helped increase the budget twice in a three year term.

Which of the following statements is the best proof that the opponents to the mayor's proposal can use in order to persuade the population of town T not to support this decision?

(A)    Town J is located very close to the borders of other three states, which causes residents of other states to shop in town J, as the sales taxes in those other states are higher than in this state. Town T is located far from any state border.

(B)     Town T is not big enough to make the difference of the sales tax received to budget positive as the result of the proposed change.

(C)      Town J has many more industrial plants that purchase raw materials from the town's mines.

(D)     This kind of an experiment did not work in any other of the six towns that lowered the sales tax.

(E)     The mayor is corrupted by several groups of residents of town T. These groups are highly interested in lowering the sales tax as the move will make them much richer.

Explanation:

(A)    Provides a reasonable explanation of why the experiment worked in town J and why it would not work in town

(B)     Does not provide solid data, only makes an assumption.

(C)      Out of scope.

(D)     Does not provide sufficient information about those six other towns to enable clear comparison of town T with those six towns.

(E)     Out of scope.