Test Pacer Find Classes & Tutoring 24 Hour Tutor Home

   Order GMAT Prep Services

Get the test pacer or try essay grading.

gmat

   Reading Comprehension
I. 6 Tactics for Analyzing a Reading Comprehension Passage
w1a. Writer purpose and voice
w1b. The essay's main point
w1c. Each paragraph's purpose
w1d. The scope of the argument
w1e. Determining the structure
w1f. Don't read, skim
 
II. Three Most Common Question Types
   
III. 4 Step Method of Attacking Reading Comprehension Passages and Sample Essay
 

   GMAT Resources
24-Hour Tutor Support
Find Classes & Tutoring
Use the Test Pacer
Essay Grading Service
Table of Contents
800score.com GMAT Home
 




 


  GMAT Prep Guide: 2-1d. Determining the scope of the argument
 
(Note: this section is a repeat from the Critical Reasoning Section)

When it comes to determining the scope of a passage, you need to understand what we mean by "scope." Think of scope as a narrowing of the topic. If you've found the main point, you must also identify what is in the range of the argument. Scope is related to more than just the general topic being discussed; it is the narrowing of the topic. Is the article about graduate school admissions, MBA admissions, or helping international students get into the business school program of their choice? Each step represents a narrowing of the scope.

Scope is one of the most important concepts for doing well on the verbal section, particularly for high scorers. Why? Put yourself in the position of the test question writers. They must write difficult questions. Only one of the five choices is correct; the rest are "junk" answers.  They have to write questions that a certain number of students will get wrong, and they have to make up "junk" answers to fool people. The issue of scope solves both problems for test question writers: it allows them to easily generate wrong answers, and it makes the questions harder because scope is a challenging issue.  Most Critical Reasoning or Reading Comprehension questions have "junk" answers that are outside of the question's scope.

Some common examples of scope junk answers are choices that are too narrow, too broad, or literally have nothing to do with the author's points. Also, watch for and eliminate choices that are too extreme to match the argument's scope; they're usually signaled by such words as all, always, never, none, and so on. Choices that are in some way qualified are often correct for arguments that are moderate in tone and contain such words as usually, sometimes, probably.

 all

 always

 never

 only

words that signal answers that are too strong and therefore usually outside the scope of an argument.

Example:

Some scientists believe that carbon dioxide-induced global warming may increase the number of hurricanes in the future and their severity.


What if someone inferred from that statement that

All of this season's severe hurricanes were caused by global warming.


That statement would be outside of the scope of the original argument. The inference made is outside the scope of the argument. The argument is not that strong. What about this statement.

Some of this season's storms may have been caused and exacerbated by global warming.


This statement is more measured and is within the scope of the original argument.

In general, these phrases indicate statements that are outside of the scope of an argument: always, never, none. Usually, arguments aren't that strong, so answers with extreme language are usually outside the scope of the argument.
  • These phrases tend to indicate that a phrase is within the scope of an argument: usually, sometimes, probably.

Strategy: If the question asks "which of the following is NOT an assumption of the argument" or "which of the following does NOT describe an argument made in the passage above", the answer will often be the one with extreme language.


Here is a critical reasoning question that illustrates scope:

Apartment building owners argue that rent control should be abolished. Although they acknowledge that they would increase rents in the short term, owners argue that in the long term the rent increases would lead to greater profitability. Higher profits would lead to increased apartment construction. Increased apartment construction would then lead to a greater supply of residences and lower prices as the potential apartment residents have a better selection. Thus, abolishing rent control would ultimately reduce prices.

Name an assumption made by the owners. (Hint: this is a difficult question, but you may eliminate 4 of the 5 answers as outside the scope of the argument).

a) Current residents of rent-controlled apartments would be able to find new apartments once their rents increased.
b) The fundamental value of any society is to house its citizens.
c) Only current apartment owners would profit significantly from market deregulation.
d) New apartment construction will generate a great number of jobs.
e) The increase in the number of apartments available would exceed the number of new potential apartment residents.

Which possible answers are outside of the scope? The scope is the argument that deregulation will increase supply and lower prices. "Name an assumption" means find a direct assumption of that supply/demand argument.

a) Current residents of rent control apartments would be able to find new apartments once their rent increased--is this outside of the scope?
Well, this sentence expresses a nice sentiment for the welfare of renters, but it has nothing to do with our argument, which is about a supply/demand dynamic.

b) The fundamental value of any society is to house its citizens. Is this outside of the scope? Again, nice sentiment, but this does not directly tie into the argument.

c) Only current apartment owners would profit significantly from market deregulation. Is this outside of the scope? The profitability of the apartment owners is not directly relevant. If the profitability of the apartments increases, it would help increase supply because other companies would be drawn into the market, thus increasing supply. Indeed this looks good and as if it is an assumption, but "Only current apartment owners" is too limiting. How about newer apartment owners? The profits made by "only current owners" is not the issue at hand; it is the price of apartments. Again, as previously mentioned, answer choices that use words such as "only" tend to be outside the scope of the question. Here "only" is too restrictive and allows you to eliminate this answer choice.

d) New apartment construction will generate a great number of jobs. This is clearly outside of the scope.

e) The increase in the number of apartments available would exceed the number of new potential apartment residents. Aha! This is an argument about supply and demand, and this is an answer about supply and demand. This is clearly within the scope of the argument, and it is the correct answer. If demand rose with new apartment construction, then prices would not decline, invalidating their argument.

 

Continue to Section E. Determining an argument's structure


w Find GMAT Classroom courses and tutoring near you



If you have any more questions or suggestions, email 800score.com

<< return to table of contents


  © 2004 800Score.com     244 Fifth Avenue     Suite 2638      New York, NY 10001-7604     1.800.789.0402     Terms