Trick Answer Type #1: Trick Opposites

This trap involves contradicting the question stem. This trap is very common on Strengthen/Weaken questions where the answer choice does the opposite of what the stem wants:

Here are examples of these deliberate tricks intended to catch students who rush through questions:

All of the following may be inferred from the passage EXCEPT:
Then the GRE gives one answer that absolutely may be inferred from the passage (which test-takers tend to pick automatically if they forget the “EXCEPT”).

The stem asks for an assumption in an argument, and one of the answer choices is a summary of the argument (but not an underlying assumption).

Which of the following weakens the argument above?
Then the GRE gives an answer choice that obviously strengthens the argument.

On test day, expect to run into a stem that looks like this:

All of the following are true, EXCEPT:

The translation of “EXCEPT” is that, of the five choices, all of them fit the condition EXCEPT one of them.

All of the following are reasons to go to business school EXCEPT:

(A) networking with future powerful executives
(B) eager to learn accounting
(C) increase your income
(D) impress your friends
(E) hone your poetry skills

Sample Questions

Inflation rose by 5.1% over the 2nd quarter, up from 4.1% during the first quarter of the year, and higher than the 3.3% recorded during the same time last year. However, the higher price index did not seem to alarm Wall Street and stock prices remained steady.

Which of the following, if true, could explain the reaction of Wall Street?

  1. Stock prices were steady because of a fear that inflation would continue.
  2. The President announced that he was concerned about rising inflation.
  3. Economists warned that inflation would persist.
  4. Much of the quarterly increase in the price level was due to a summer drought’s effect on food prices.
  5. Other unfavorable economic news had overshadowed the fact of inflation.


This is a paradox because the high inflation report would seem to indicate that the stock market should go down.

A fear that inflation would continue (A), an announcement by the president that he was concerned about inflation (B), economists’ warnings about inflation (C), and other unfavorable economic news (E) would all tend to cause stock prices to decline and cause alarm on Wall Street.

What we are looking for instead is an explanation which suggests why a high-inflation report would not spook the markets. (D) is most appropriate. If most of the quarterly inflation was due to a rise in food prices caused by a drought, then other prices rose less or no more than in the last quarter. Since the drought is probably a temporary phenomenon, it may be expected that inflation will decline next quarter. Thus, there is no cause for alarm on Wall Street, and the high-inflation report should not scare the markets.

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