Executive Assessment: Verbal Strategies – Part 6

by on January 9th, 2018

verbalWelcome to the sixth and final installment of Verbal Strategies for the EA! If you’re just joining us now, I suggest going back to the first part and proceeding from there.

Last time, we tried a couple of Reading Comprehension (RC) questions. I’ll copy the passage and second question again below, but do start from the previous article before you keep reading—I discussed both the passage and the first question last time and I’m going to assume you know those details already.

“The following question(s are) based on material written in 1996: The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, signed in 1987 by more than 150 nations, has attained its short-term goals: it has decreased the rate of increase in amounts of most ozone-depleting chemicals reaching the atmosphere and has even reduced the atmospheric levels of some of them. The projection that the ozone layer will substantially recover from ozone depletion by 2050 is based on the assumption that the protocol’s regulations will be strictly followed. Yet there is considerable evidence of violations, particularly in the form of the release of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are commonly used in the refrigeration, heating, and air-conditioning industries. These violations reflect industry attitudes; for example, in the United States, 48% of respondents in a recent survey of subscribers to Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration News, an industry trade journal, said that they did not believe that CFCs damage the ozone layer. Moreover, some in the industry apparently do not want to pay for CFC substitutes, which can run five times the cost of CFCs. Consequently, a black market in imported illicit CFCs has grown. Estimates of the contraband CFC trade range from 10,000 to 22,000 tons a year, with most of the CFCs originating in India and China, whose agreements under the Protocol still allow them to produce CFCs. In fact, the United States Customs Service reports that CFC-12 is a contraband problem second only to illicit drugs.

“According to the passage, which of the following best describes most ozone-depleting chemicals in 1996 as compared to those in 1987?

“(A) The levels of such chemicals in the atmosphere had decreased.

“(B) The number of such chemicals that reached the atmosphere had declined.

“(C) The amounts of such chemicals released had increased but the amounts that reached the atmosphere had decreased.

“(D) The rate of increase in amounts of such chemicals reaching the atmosphere had decreased.

“(E) The rate at which such chemicals were being reduced in the atmosphere had slowed.”

Here’s our breakdown of the passage from last time:

MP: met ST goal: DTL

Proj: OL recover by 2050

But: some violating, don’t “believe” (US)

black mkt: China India → US

And the simple story:

There’s an international protocol to fix the ozone layer, and it has met its short-term goals, but there’s strong reason to believe that it may not meet its long-term goal. Companies don’t want to pay higher costs and this is leading to a black market in the US. Plus lots of detail about exactly how this is playing out.

Now let’s tackle that second question.

“According to the passage, which of the following best describes most ozone-depleting chemicals in 1996 as compared to those in 1987?”

The language according to the passage indicates a Specific Detail question; they’re going to ask us to find something in the passage and give it right back to them, probably in slightly different words.

Note the very specific language here: chemicals in 1996 vs. 1987. Scan for that in the passage.

“The following question(s are) based on material written in 1996: The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, signed in 1987 by more than 150 nations, has attained its short-term goals: it has decreased the rate of increase in amounts of most ozone-depleting chemicals reaching the atmosphere and has even reduced the atmospheric levels of some of them.”

In 1987, things were bad enough that the Protocol was created and signed. By 1996, it had attained certain short-term goals: (1) the rate of increase of the ODCs (for short) had gone down, and (2) some of these ODCs actually decreased.

 

Step 3 asks you to predict an answer. On Specific Detail questions, stick tightly to the text. It told us two things were true of ozone-depleting chemicals. Look for one in the answers.

“(A) The levels of such chemicals in the atmosphere had decreased.”

Hmm. It does say that some had decreased. Is that close enough?

By omitting some kind of qualifier, such as some, this choice implies that the levels of all such chemicals went down—and that’s not the case. I’d put a question mark next to this one, but I will abandon it immediately if I find something even a tiny bit better.

“(B) The number of such chemicals that reached the atmosphere had declined.”

The passage doesn’t indicate that some of the chemicals no longer get up into the atmosphere. It indicates only that the rate of increase has declined for most and that some have decreased—but not stopped entirely. Eliminate choice (B).

“(C) The amounts of such chemicals released had increased but the amounts that reached the atmosphere had decreased.”

The passage doesn’t make a distinction between chemical release in general vs. chemicals reaching the atmosphere (and it says that only some decreased). Eliminate choice (C).

“(D) The rate of increase in amounts of such chemicals reaching the atmosphere had decreased.”

Wow, that’s confusing. The rate of increase…decreased. Oh, wait—yes, they did say this! The passage literally says it has decreased the rate of increase in amounts of most ODCs. Perfect match!

Let’s check the final answer, just to be sure.

“(E) The rate at which such chemicals were being reduced in the atmosphere had slowed.”

Again, really confusing. The rate at which they were being reducedhas slowed. They were being reduced at a certain rate…and that rate has slowed down. No. That would be a bad thing. We wanted them to go down at a faster rate—and that’s exactly what the Montreal Protocol accomplished. This is the opposite of what the passage said; eliminate choice (E).

The correct answer is (D).

Key Takeaways for EA Reading Comprehension:

(1) RC is similar to CR: Identify the question first. Then dive back into the passage to find the particular sentence or sentences you need to help you predict your own answer. Finally, start eliminating bad answers and looking for an answer that matches your prediction.

(2) On Specific Detail questions, you mostly just need to repeat back something the passage has already told you. They’re going to mix up or change the wording a little bit—they’re not going to make it too easy for you! But that’s basically all you’re doing.

(3) Turn that knowledge into Know the Code flash cards:

* Executive Assessment questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.

Ask a Question or Leave a Reply

The author Stacey Koprince gets email notifications for all questions or replies to this post.

Some HTML allowed. Keep your comments above the belt or risk having them deleted. Signup for a Gravatar to have your pictures show up by your comment.