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GMAT - Reading Comprehension - Deciphering relevant information

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 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.

Prior to 1965 geologists assumed that the two giant rock plates meeting at the San Andreas Fault (more)

Prior to 1965 geologists assumed that the two giant rock plates meeting at the San Andreas Fault generate heat through friction as they grind past each other, but in 1965 Henyey found that temperatures in drill holes near the fault were not as elevated as had been expected. Some geologists wondered whether the absence of friction-generated heat could be explained by the kinds of rock composing the fault. Geologists’ pre-1965 assumptions concerning heat generated in the fault were based on calculations about common varieties of rocks, such as limestone and granite; but “weaker” materials, such as clays, had already been identified in samples retrieved from the fault zone. Under normal conditions, rocks composed of clay produce far less friction than do other rock types.

In 1992 Byerlee tested whether these materials would produce friction 10 to 15 kilometers below the Earth’s surface. Byerlee found that when clay samples were subjected to the thousands of atmospheres of pressure they would encounter deep inside the Earth, they produced as much friction as was produced by other rock types. The harder rocks push against each other, the hotter they become; in other words, pressure itself, not only the rocks’ properties, affects frictional heating. Geologists, therefore, wondered whether the friction between the plates was being reduced by pockets of pressurized water within the fault that push the plates away from each other

Question 1. The passage suggests which of the following regarding Henyey’s findings about temperature in the San Andreas Fault?

A. Scientists have yet to formulate a definitive explanation for Henyey’s findings.
B. Recent research suggests that Henyey’s explanation for the findings should be modified.
C. Henyey’s findings had to be recalculated in light of Byerlee’s 1992 experiment.
D. Henyey’s findings provided support for an assumption long held by geologists.
E. Scientists have been unable to duplicate Henyey’s findings using more recent experimental methods.

Question 2. The passage is primarily concerned with?

A. evaluating a method used to test a particular scientific hypothesis
B. discussing explanations for an unexpected scientific finding
C. examining the assumptions underlying a particular experiment
D. questioning the validity of a scientific finding
E. presenting evidence to support a recent scientific hypothesis


Answer 1.

A. This answer choice is right. We find the evidence for this in the last line of the passage; ''Geologists therefore wondered whether the friction between the plates was being reduced by pockets of pressurized water within the fault that push the plates away from each other''.

B. There is no evidence to suggest that Henyey's findings must be modified.

C. In Byerlee's 1992 experiment, different types of rocks were studied and not Henyey's findings.

D. This is the opposite of what actually happened, hence it's the wrong answer choice.

E. There is no evidence for this hence it can be eliminated.