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GMAT - Reading Comprehension - Critical Reading

Two divergent definitions have dominated sociologists' discussions of the nature of ethnicity. (more)

Two divergent definitions have dominated sociologists' discussions of the nature of ethnicity. The first emphasizes the primordial and unchanging character of ethnicity. In Line this view, people have an essential need for belonging that (5) is satisfied by membership in groups based on shared ancestry and culture. A different conception of ethnicity de-emphasizes the cultural component and defines ethnic groups as interest groups. In this view, ethnicity serves as a way of mobilizing a certain population behind issues (10) relating to its economic position. While both of these definitions are useful, neither fully captures the dynamic and changing aspects of ethnicity in the United States. Rather, ethnicity is more satisfactorily conceived of as a process in which pre-existing communal bonds and common (15) cultural attributes are adapted for instrumental purposes according to changing real-life situations. One example of this process is the rise of participation by Native American people in the broader United States political system since the Civil Rights movement of the (20) 1960's. Besides leading Native Americans to participate more actively in politics (the number of Native American legislative officeholders more than doubled), this movement also evoked increased interest in tribal history and traditional culture. Cultural and instrumental components of (25) ethnicity are not mutually exclusive, but rather reinforce one another. The Civil Rights movement also brought changes in the uses to which ethnicity was put by Mexican American people. In the 1960's, Mexican Americans formed (30) community-based political groups that emphasized ancestral heritage as a way of mobilizing constituents. Such emerg- ing issues as immigration and voting rights gave Mexican American advocacy groups the means by which to promote ethnic solidarity. Like European ethnic groups in the (35) nineteenth-century United States, late-twentieth-century Mexican American leaders combined ethnic with contemporary civic symbols. In 1968 Henry Cisneros, then mayor of San Antonio, Texas, cited Mexican leader Benito Juarez as a model for Mexican Americans in their fight for con- (40) temporary civil rights. And every year, Mexican Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo as fervently as many Irish American people embrace St. Patrick's Day (both are major holidays in the countries of origin), with both holidays having been reinvented in the context of the United States (45) and linked to ideals, symbols, and heroes of the United States.

1. Which of the following best states the main idea of the passage?

(A) In their definitions of the nature of ethnicity, sociologists have underestimated the power of the primordial human need to belong.

(B) Ethnicity is best defined as a dynamic process that combines cultural components with shared political and economic interests.

(C) In the United States in the twentieth century, ethnic groups have begun to organize in order to further their political and economic interests.

(D) Ethnicity in the United States has been significantly changed by the Civil Rights movement.

(E) The two definitions of ethnicity that have dominated sociologists' discussions are incompatible and should be replaced by an entirely new approach.

2. Which of the following statements about the first two definitions of ethnicity discussed in the first paragraph is supported by the passage?

(A) One is supported primarily by sociologists, and the other is favored by members of ethnic groups.

(B) One emphasizes the political aspects of ethnicity, and the other focuses on the economic aspects.

(C) One is the result of analysis of United States populations, and the other is the result of analysis of European populations.

D) One focuses more on the ancestral components of ethnicity than does the other.

(E) One focuses more on immigrant groups than does the other.

3. The author of the passage refers to Native American people in the second paragraph in order to provide an example of

(A) the ability of membership in groups based on shared ancestry and culture to satisfy an essential human need

(B) how ethnic feelings have both motivated and been strengthened by political activity

(C) how the Civil Rights movement can help promote solidarity among United States ethnic groups

(D) how participation in the political system has helped to improve a group's economic situation

(E) the benefits gained from renewed study of ethnic history and culture

4. The passage supports which of the following statements about the Mexican American community?

(A) In the 1960's the Mexican American community began to incorporate the customs of another ethnic group in the United States into the observation of its own ethnic holidays.

(B) In the 1960's Mexican American community groups promoted ethnic solidarity primarily in order to effect economic change.

(C) In the 1960's leaders of the Mexican American community concentrated their efforts on promoting a renaissance of ethnic history and culture.

(D) In the 1960's members of the Mexican American community were becoming increasingly concerned about the issue of voting rights.

(E) In the 1960's the Mexican American community had greater success in mobilizing constituents than did other ethnic groups in the United States.

5. Which of the following types of ethnic cultural expression is discussed in the passage?

(A) The retelling of traditional narratives

(B) The wearing of traditional clothing

(C) The playing of traditional music

(D) The celebration of traditional holidays

(E) The preparation of traditional cuisine


(A) Incorrect answer, as we read in line 3 that the first definition of ethnicity emphasizes the primordial character of ethnicity.

(B) Correct answer as this precisely captures the overall idea of the passage.

(C) Incorrect as this is explaining only a part of the passage, not the main idea of the entire passage.

(D) Incorrect as it only talks about a limited part of the passage and not its overall theme.

(E) Incorrect as nowhere in the passage do we come across this information.

In Winters v. United States (1908), the Supreme Court held that the right to use waters flowing through or adjacent to the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation was reserved to American Indians by the treaty establishing the reservation. (more)

In Winters v. United States (1908), the Supreme Court held that the right to use waters flowing through or adjacent to the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation was reserved to American Indians by the treaty establishing the reservation. Although this treaty did not mention water rights, the Court ruled that the federal government, when it created the reservation, intended to deal fairly with American Indians by reserving for them the waters without which their lands would have been useless. Later decisions, citing Winters, established that courts can find federal rights to reserve water for particular purposes if (1) the land in question lies within an enclave under exclusive federal jurisdiction, (2) the land has been formally withdrawn from federal public lands-i.e., withdrawn from the stock of federal lands available for private use under federal land use laws-and set aside or reserved, and (3) the circumstances reveal the government intended to reserve water as well as land when establishing the reservation. Some American Indian tribes have also established water rights through the courts based on their traditional diversion and use of certain waters prior to the United States’ acquisition of sovereignty. For example, the Rio Grande Pueblos already existed when the United States acquired sovereignty over New Mexico in 1848. Although they at that time became part of the United States, the pueblo lands never formally constituted a part of federal public lands; in any event, no treaty, statute, or executive order has ever designated or withdrawn the Pueblos from public lands as American Indian reservations. This fact, however, has not barred application of the Winters doctrine. What constitutes an American Indian reservation is a question of practice, not of legal definition, and the Pueblos have always been treated as reservations by the United States. This pragmatic approach is buttressed by Arizona v. California (1963), wherein the Supreme Court indicated that the manner in which any type of federal reservation is created does not affect the application to it of the Winters doctrine. Therefore, the reserved water rights of Pueblo Indians have priority over other citizens’ water rights as of 1848, the year in which Pueblos must be considered to have become reservations.

Q1. The passage suggests that, if the criteria discussed in lines 10-20 were the only criteria for establishing a reservation’s water rights, which of the following would be true?

(A) The water rights of the inhabitants of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation would not take precedence over those of other citizens.

(B) Reservations established before 1848 would be judged to have no water rights.

(C) There would be no legal basis for the water rights of the Rio Grande pueblos.

(D) Reservations other than American Indian reservations could not be created with reserved water rights.

(E) Treaties establishing reservations would have to mention water rights explicitly in order to reserve water for a particular purpose.

Q2. The “pragmatic approach” mentioned in lines 37-38 of the passage is best defined as one that

(A) grants recognition to reservations that were never formally established but that have traditionally been treated as such

(B) determines the water rights of all citizens in a particular region by examining the actual history of water usage in that region

(C) gives federal courts the right to reserve water along with land even when it is clear that the government originally intended to reserve only the land

(D) bases the decision to recognize the legal rights of a group on the practical effect such a recognition is likely to have on other citizens

(E) dictates that courts ignore precedents set by such cases as Winters v. United States in deciding what water rights belong to reserved land 

Answer 1.

In this passage, we read about a courts judgment over the usage of water, by people living in the surrounding area of the water body. A decision regarding the reservation for water usage was laid down by the court.

Answer 1. To answer this question you must go back to the lines mentioned in the question and read it. These lines lay down the criteria for reserving water rights. Based on these criteria, which situation among the answer choices would be applicable.

A) When we read lines10-20, we come to know that none of the criteria suggests that one groups' right is more important than another groups' right, hence we can eliminate this option.

B) Nowhere in the passage do we have evidence to support this claim.

C) This is the correct answer choice, as we read in lines 30-32 that the Pueblos lands were neither designated nor withdrawn based on any event, order or treaty. This provides evidence for the answer choice.

D) There is no evidence for this answer, the passage only talks about American Indians Reservations and no other reservations as such.

E) None of the three criteria is suggesting anything along these lines, hence it is the wrong answer choice.

In 1988 services moved ahead of manufacturing as the main product of the United States economy. (more)

In 1988 services moved ahead of manufacturing as the main product of the United States economy. But what is meant by "services"? Some economists define a service as something that is produced and consumed simultaneously, for example, a haircut. The broader, classical definition is that a service is an intangible something that cannot be touched or stored. Yet electric utilities can store energy, and computer programmers save information electronically. Thus, the classical definition is hard to sustain. The United States government's definition is more practical: services are the residual category that includes everything that is not agriculture or industry. Under this definition, services includes activities as diverse as engineering and driving a bus. However, besides lacking a strong conceptual framework, this definition fails to recognize the distinction between service industries and service occupations. It categorizes workers based on their company's final product rather than on the actual work the employees perform. Thus, the many service workers employed by manufacturers bookkeepers or janitors, for example-would fall under the industrial rather than the services category. Such ambiguities reveal the arbitrariness of this definition and suggest that, although practical for government purposes, it does not accurately reflect the composition of the current United States economy.

Question 1.The author of the passage is primarily concerned with

(A) discussing research data underlying several definitions

(B) arguing for the adoption of a particular definition

(C) exploring definitions of a concept

(D) comparing the advantages of several definitions

(E) clarifying some ambiguous definitions

Question 2. In comparing the United States government's definition of services with the classical definition, the author suggests that the classical definition is

(A) more pragmatic

(B) more difficult to apply

(C) less ambiguous

(D) more widely used

(E) more arbitrary

Question 3. The passage suggests which of the following about service workers in the United States?

(A) The number of service workers may be underestimated by the definition of services used by the government.

(B) There were fewer service workers than agricultural workers before 1988.

(C) The number of service workers was almost equal to the number of workers employed in manufacturing until 1988.

(D) Most service workers are employed in service occupations rather than in service industries.

(E) Most service workers are employed in occupations where they provide services that do not fall under the classical definition of services.

Answer 1.

(A) As we read the passage it becomes clear that there are no reserach data that the author has spoken about in the text. Hence we eliminate this answer choice.

(B) The author does not take a stand on any of the definitions. The author is just putting forward the different definitions for services.

(C) This is the correct answer choice as the author is talking about the different definitions of services. We see a definition given by some economist and there is a definition given by the US government.

(D) There is no comparison being done of the advantages of any definition. This answer choice is limited in its coverage of the primary purpose of the passage.

(E) There is no clarification being made on any definition hence this answer choice is incorrect.