GMAT RC – Extrapolation

Extrapolation questions expect you to extrapolate ideas and data given in the passage to new concepts or comparable instances outside the passage.

As is evident from that very sentence above, there are two subcategories for this reading comprehension type:

  1. Some of these questions will present an entirely new concept that has not been discussed at all in the text, and ask you to sort of get inside the author’s mind and make a deduction of what he/she might think about it. Considering the fact that you have been carefully reading and analyzing the author’s tone and stance so far, the test administrators expect that you should be able to make a logical deduction of what the author may think on this new (possibly related or connected) topic at hand.

    Ideally, the types of questions that you’d see for this question type would be along the lines of: “How would the author of the passage most likely respond to the assertion that…?”

    In order to answer these questions, not only will you need a thorough logical understanding of how the new topic may fit into the context of the passage, you will also need to be able to deduce the perspective and preferences of the author based on whatever you have understood of the passage so far. Naturally, your logical consistency is of supreme importance here, and how well you have been following the author’s stance is heavily tested on these questions.

  2. The other category of questions may ask you to compare something in the passage to a hypothetical example from a completely different situation. In fact, this is where “extrapolation” in it’s truest form is seen to take place. You are essentially being asked here to follow two parallel worlds; one that is committed to what is explicitly mentioned in the passage, and one that is exceedingly similar to this first passage-adherent world, but entirely alternative in that it is hypothetical. Now, the trouble essentially lies with the fact that this hypothetical alternative is altogether random, and different in each answer choice! So, when you answer this question, you are automatically pushing your mind to parallely imagine upto six different alternate situations, if you don’t have the practice to be able to tackle them one at a time, that is. By their very nature, because of the increased brain-work involved, these questions are certainly harder and will likely take a little longer to answer. You must learn to train you mind to actually observe the variables in each situation, and find which situations have the most similar variables in action.

    An example of this type of question could be  “The compromised situation of the Eagle described in line X is most similar to…”, and then the correct answer could amount to something like “a ballerina with a broken foot.” In this instance, you will have had to understand that perhaps the analogy lies in the helplessness the Eagle may have faced in its situation as portrayed in the passage. In these questions, you are asked to abstract out all particulars and focus on what is essential to the situation or relationship in its most rigid, logical form.

In both cases, however seemingly remote the focus of the question is, the correct answer should still resonate with the author’s main idea or conclusion as demonstrated by the passage. Remember that the correct option has to mirror the idea(s) presented in the passage.

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