GRE Reading Comprehension Example Problem

In this passage you are presented with an unsupported hypothesis about the use of “wheeled utility vehicles” in 12th century Veracruz; namely, despite the lack of evidence, anthropologists hypothesize that the discovery of “wheeled ceramic toys” might indicate that “wheeled utility vehicles were used to carry materials needed for the monumental structures the Toltec produced.”

As you read through these potential answers, it is important that you determine what this question is actually asking. The passage says there is “no archeological evidence that the Toltec used wheels for anything but toys,” so the correct answer must explain why archeologists haven’t found any non-toy wheels, or “wheeled utility vehicles.” Keep this in mind as we review the answers:

(A)   is incorrect. “Sometimes” is a weak word; “sometimes” is not enough to say that the wheel was necessarily one of tools “incorporated into (the Toltec’s) toys representations.” Additionally, this statement does not explain the lack of archaeological evidence for “wheeled utility vehicles.”

(B)   is correct because it offers a valid explanation that is consistent with the anthropologists’ hypothesis and also explains the lack of evidence for that hypothesis.

(C)   is incorrect. A discovery that the toy wheels had uses outside of being toys, such as decoration and sometimes in rituals does not “explain the lack of evidence” for wheeled utility vehicles.

(D)   is incorrect. “Areas outside of Veracruz” have nothing to do with the lack of archaeological evidence in Veracruz; this statement does not explain why no non-toy wheels have been found at Veracruz.

(E)    is incorrect. Again, this answer has nothing to do with the lack of archaeological evidence for non-toy wheels; finding toy wheels in a certain place does not explain the lack of evidence for non-toy wheels.

GRE reading comprehension questions will regularly feature subjects most students are not familiar with; you should expect to see questions relating to archaeology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, theater, history, and English, as well as biology, physics, math, chemistry, economics, etc. You do not have to be an expert in these fields to answer these questions correctly! Don’t be intimidated by the verbiage or jargon used in these question types. If you feel overwhelmed by the subject matter, rest assured that the GRE is designed for you to be able to answer every question correctly based entirely on the information contained within the passage.

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