GMAT Verbal Critical Reasoning
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Author:  questioner [ Tue May 22, 2012 11:51 pm ]
Post subject:  GMAT Verbal Critical Reasoning

The Republic of Estonia is separated from Finland by the narrow Gulf of Finland. The Estonian people are genetically similar the Finnish people. Estonians also speak a language that is very closely related to Finnish. It is likely that, many centuries ago, residents of what is now Estonia migrated to what is now Finland and established settlements there. Which of the following, if true, does the least to undermine the author's explanation for the similarities given?

A. The earliest settlements found in Finland that exhibit the cultural influences common to Estonians and Finns predate the earliest settlements found in Estonia that exhibit these traits.

B. At the time at which the residents of present-day Estonia are believed to have migrated to present-day Finland, travel by boat across the Gulf of Finland was not possible.

C. Early Estonian artifacts contain drawings of animals that were native only to Finland at the time the migrat!
ion was believed to have taken place.

D. The traits common to the peoples of Finland and Estonia are also shared by the population of present day Sweden.

E. The Norwegian people are more similar to the Finnish people than are the Estonians.

Correct Answer: D

The author's argument concludes that early Finns migrated from Estonia, based on similarities between the two cultures. Answer choices that are incorrect will weaken this conclusion, likely by giving an alternate explanation for why these cultures share traits. Choice (D) does not weaken the author's conclusion, and thus is the correct answer, because the fact that these traits are also shared by the people of Sweden does not have any effect on the proposed migration from Estonia to Finland; perhaps the path was Sweden to Estonia to Finland, or Estonia to Finland to Sweden. Choice (A) is incorrect because it gives some evidence that the migration was from Finland to Estonia, not in the other direction as the author believes. Choice (B) is incorrect because it eliminates one possible means by which the Estonians could have migrated to Finland. Choice (C), like choice (A), gives evidence for a migration from Finland to Estonia. Choice (E) presents the possibility of a stronger link between Norwegians and Finns than Finns and Estonians, weakening the likelihood that the Finnish people migrated from Estonia.


I don't understand the explanation for this problem. It makes the additional assumptions needed to make answer (D) while not making any such assumptions to answer (E). It seems (D) and (E) do identically little to weaken the conclusion.

If "the traits" (functionally: "ALL OF THE TRAITS") common to Fins and Estonians are shared by Swedes, this gives rise to multiple possible migrations.

That Norwegians are "more similar" tells us nothing. Are they more similar to the Finnish GENETICALLY than are Estonians? Is their LANGUAGE more similar to Finnish than that spoken by Estonians? Or are they more similar in BOTH WAYS? The answer does not allow us to make any one of these assumptions.

Because we are not told anything about TEMPORAL PROGRESSION in either answer (D) or (E), neither answer can be said to weaken the conclusion.

Author:  Nick [ Tue May 22, 2012 11:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: GMAT Verbal Critical Reasoning

Choice (E) uses comparisons to suggest a superior alternative theory (note the use of the word "more") and weakens the conclusion by suggesting a stronger hypothesis that the Finnish people migrated from Norway.

Choice (D) is an empty statement because it doesn't set up a comparison suggesting that Sweden is the likely origin of the Finnish people. It doesn't tell us anything and therefore does the least to weaken the conclusion.

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