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Summary questions in the Reading section

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nonameee Really wants to Beat The GMAT! Default Avatar
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Summary questions in the Reading section Post Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:05 am
Could someone please explain whether the sentence that is provided as a summary to which we have to match corresponding answers from the list (reading summary question type) should be taken as a thesis and the correct answers as supporting evidence for that very thesis?

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DanaJ Site Admin
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Post Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:39 am
Most of the time yes, but it also depends on what the actual question is asking. When you write a summary, the first sentence is usually the thesis, but it really depends: this introductory sentence might just be a starting point and the conclusion or thesis might come later.

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Post Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:49 am
Dana, thank you for your reply.

I was talking about summary questions for the reading part of the test. I guess the question will ask the same thing: to provide the summary.

I asked this question because the role of the topic sentence (i.e., the bold sentence to which you match your answers) is not clear to me. For example, I have encountered official questions whose topic sentence didn't really capture the essence of the paragraph. Therefore, I was a bit unsure whether the my choices should match the passage's main theme or the topic sentence.

If you have the OG for the TOEFL, I could tell you which summary questions didn't make sense to me.

So my question is: The correct answers will support the topic sentence provided or will provide the summary for the passage? As I have written above, I don't think that these two are the same all the time.

Thanks.

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Post Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:36 am
Yup, I have the OG for TOEFL. Send me the page number.

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Post Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:00 am
OG 3rd edition:

p. 241 (Democratic and Whig parties) Q13:

Quote:
The political system of the United States in the mid-nineteenth century was
strongly influenced by the social and economic circumstances of the time.
I don't quite agree that this is an accurate formulation of the summary thesis.

(1) Although I agree that Whig party did develop in response to the needs of competing economic development (this is clearly stated in the passage), I do not agree that the same can be inferred about the Democratic Party (no information is provided why the Democratic Party was founded).

(4) I would say that this can be inferred from the passage since the passage says: "They [Whigs in the northern sections of the United States] were much
more likely to favor social-reform legislation and aid to education."

p. 249 Facial expressions and emotions Q13

Quote:
Psychological research seems to confirm that people associate particular
facial expressions with the same emotions across cultures.
Again, I believe that this is one of the points of the passage (the first half of the passage). The summary thesis for me would be something like this:

"Connection between emotions and facial expressions"

The right answers (2, 4, 6) don't relate to the topic sentence above.

So if you could explain to me on the examples that I provided the relation between the topic sentence and answer choices.

Thanks a lot.

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Post Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:39 am
1. Democratic and Whig parties

Here is where my initial reply, that the bolded sentence might not be the thesis of the passage and merely a starting point (or introductory sentence, to quote the instructions), is illustrated. I also don't feel that the bolded sentence here is the thesis, but I will agree that this is a main theme of the passage and provides a starting point for the summary.

(1) I think you mistake the idea of party development with the idea of party "founding" (gah can't think of a better word for the "birth" of a party). To me it's clear that the passage describes how the two parties evolved in that time in US history, which is why "development" is a good word to describe this whole process.

(2) You are very right, but that is a minor point. As the directions state, you shouldn't select answer choices that correspond to minor ideas. The education issue is only mentioned once in the sentence you quoted, making it a minor point.

2. Facial expressions and emotions

Yup, you are again right - and again, this is just a starting point for the summary, it's not meant to be the thesis statement or the overall summary. I actually think that you should avoid thinking about the bolded sentence as the thesis or the topic sentence. Sometimes it could be, but other times it's just what the instructions indicate, i.e. an introductory sentence.

(1) This is only briefly mentioned in the passage. It's a minor point.

(2) I think this is a pretty accurate summary of the second part of the passage, where the author discusses this "feedback" mechanism. In fact if we look at the first part of the text, this is also somewhat implied through the fact that facial expressions depict emotions, leading us to believe there is a link between them.

(3) Don't think I've read this in the passage.

(4) This is true and it is explained in the first and second paragraphs, where they explain all those experiments with photos.

(5) This is a trap. It was Darwin who believed that, not Ekman - or at least that's what the passage tells us, we don't know if Ekman believed that or not.

(6) Again, this is one of the ideas highlighted in the second part of the passage, particularly in the cartoons experiment and what's immediately before that.

I wonder whether you're not overanalyzing this... In general TOEFL passages aren't as complicated as GMAT passages and usually if you stop to ponder on the minutiae you might be doing yourself more harm than good.

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Post Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:48 am
Dana, thanks for your thorough reply. Everything's clear.

So should I just perhaps ignore a bolded sentence all together and select those answers that are main points of a passage?

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Post Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:57 am
Nope - it's always good as a starting point. Just don't automatically consider it as the thesis.

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Post Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:03 pm
Right, but should the three answer choices support it or it's not necessary?

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Post Tue Apr 03, 2012 1:55 pm
They may support it, but to me most of the time that's not necessarily the case. Those three options are meant to be the summary of the text, not just supporting ideas for the one bolded sentence.

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Post Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:43 pm
Ok. Thank you.

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