Source: Official Guide Revised GRE 2nd Ed. Part 9; Section 4; #19

2

According to the passage, before the recommendations

According to the passage, before the recommendations by the government entomologists, which of the following was true about farming west of the Mississippi River?

For the following question, consider each of the choices separately and select all that apply.
Historians credit repeated locust invasions in the nineteenth century with reshaping United States agriculture west of the Mississippi River. Admonished by government entomologists, farmers began to diversify. Wheat had come to nearly monopolize the region, but it was particularly vulnerable to the locusts. In 1873, just before the locusts' most withering offensive, nearly two-thirds of Minnesota farmland was producing wheat; by the invasions' last year, that fraction had dropped to less than one-sixth. Farmers learned that peas and beans were far less vulnerable to the insects, and corn was a more robust grain than wheat. In addition to planting alternative crops, many farmers turned to dairy and beef production. Although pastures were often damaged by the locusts, these lands were almost always left in better shape than the crops were. Farmers focused primarily on growing wheat., Peas and beans had not yet been planted in the region., A relatively small portion of farmland was devoted to crops other than wheat.

4 Explanations

1

Yvette Chen

Hello, I was wondering why the whole article cannot be the result of the admonishment made by the government? After saying diversify it seems to bit a little weird back to saying something happen before the government inference? How can I interpret the order? Thanks.

Aug 25, 2017 • Comment

Adam

Hi Yvette,

The text indicates the farmers began to plant less wheat and more other crops after government entomologists recommended they do so.

The question is asking about what we can infer about what was true before government entomologists recommended that farmers diversify their crops. The passage gives us information about this by telling us that "Wheat had come to nearly monopolize the region..." The use of the past perfect tense indicates that this is what happened BEFORE entomologists advised farmers to diversify.

Aug 27, 2017 • Reply

1

Dan Wallace

I think C shouldn't be included. The passage implies that over 1/3 of the farmland was devoted to something other than wheat, but it doesn't say what that something was. It could have been dairy or beef, it could have been crops. Thus, C is not logically guaranteed.

Nov 23, 2016 • Comment

Cydney Seigerman, Magoosh Tutor

Hi Dan :)

Thanks for your comment! The support for (C) comes from the following line in the passage.

"Wheat had come to nearly monopolize the region, but it was particularly vulnerable to the locusts."

This describes the situation before the recommendations by the government, which is the time period we're asked to consider in the prompt. Nearly monopolizing the region means that practically all of the farmland was devoted to wheat production. This statement supports (C). This part of the passage focuses on crop production. On the other hand, in the latter part of the passage, the idea of diversification and the use of land for dairy and beef production is introduced. With that in mind, the reference to "crops" in (C) is not a deterrent from selecting (C) as a correct answer.

Hope this helps! :)

Dec 5, 2016 • Reply

Dan Wallace

Hi Cydney, thanks for responding. I agree that it would be completely reasonable to suppose C in most circumstances, but I disagree that it HAS to be true. All we know is that wheat had nearly come to monopolize the region before the recommendations, and was diversified after. We are not given enough to deduce that some or all of the pre-recommendation non-wheat farming region was being used for crops.

Dec 27, 2016 • Reply

Adam

Hi Dan,

I think you're misreading (C):

relatively small portion of farmland was devoted to crops other than wheat

This doesn't mean that the farmland that wasn't devoted to wheat was only devoted to crops. It means that, of the land that was devoted to crops, most of it was devoted to wheat.

That statement is definitely supported by "wheat had come to nearly monopolize the region."

It is possible for (C) to be true AND for there to have been farmland that was devoted to uses other than crop-growing.

Dec 27, 2016 • Reply

Dan Wallace

Hi Adam. I agree that that's possible. I don't view C as being inconsistent with the text. My concern is that C doesn't seem to be logically entailed by the text. Consider two examples. EXAMPLE 1. (A) Given: There's a mammal in the bathroom. (B) Inference: There's a dog in the bathroom. (C) This inference is not inconsistent with the given, but it's also not entailed by the given. EXAMPLE 2. (A) Given: There's a dog in the bathroom. (B) Inference: There's a mammal in the bathroom. (C) The inference follows.

I view C as being similar to the inference in EXAMPLE 1. It could be true, and we might have good reasons to think it's true (perhaps we've been told that a stray dog wandered into the house this morning). But it doesn't HAVE to be true (a stray cat might have wandered in as well, or it might be our cousin Jimmy, etc.). Similarly, I simply can't find anything in the text that logically entails that even one square foot of pre-diversifying farmland was used for any crop other than wheat (though I certainly do presume that other crops were grown at that time).

Dec 27, 2016 • Reply

Adam

Hi Dan,

I think you raise a good point. I have to defer to the guide, of course, since these are the people who write the test. It seems as though choice (C) must imply that no farmland being used for crops other than wheat is considered a relatively small portion (0% is relatively small).

Dec 30, 2016 • Reply

Dan Wallace

Hi Adam,
Ah, yes, 0% is relatively small. Good thinking. This means, however, that C would be true even had the text said that wheat FULLY monopolized the region's
farmland (i.e., you could have 100% wheat and 0% non-wheat). So, now I think the question even more problematic than I did before :)

But, as you say, we must defer to ETS, as it's their test/way of thinking we're trying to master. Speaking of which, I took the GRE two days ago and am happy to report I got a 170 in verbal, and I didn't encounter anything that felt questionable like this. I do think that the vast majority of their questions are solid.

(Also, btw, I recommend Magoosh to everyone. It's an amazing resource!)

Dec 30, 2016 • Reply

sporshita goswami

Thanks for this. I do have a doubt for choice B..the text says - farmers learned that.....when you say 'learn', dont you mean that you have not done it in the past and doing it now and this is why the learning?

Dec 31, 2016 • Reply

Adam

Congratulations, Dan! That's fantastic :) Thank you for the recommendations, and best of luck in your future endeavors!

Dec 31, 2016 • Reply

Adam

Hi Sporshita! The problem with (B) is that, although the text indicates that the farmers did not previously know that peas and beans were less vulnerable to insects, this does not mean that these farmers had never planted peas and beans before. It just means that they didn't realize that these crops were less vulnerable to insects than wheat was.

Dec 31, 2016 • Reply

1

Jacob Elder

I was pretty stumped on whether to choose C or not, because I felt that A and C were so similar that this was probably a trick by the GRE, and there was some slight difference in wording meant to throw you off. What I figured was that A was correct because the text explicitly states wheat had come to monopolize the region. However, evidence for C is never explicitly stated in the text. It mentions wheat, but not how little or how much land was devoted to OTHER crops. As such, I figured this to be intentional to have such similar sounding answers about wheat, while one was about the text's explicit reference to growing wheat while the other would be based only on inference and conjecture (about the amount of land devoted to other crops), and thus wrong.

Can you explain where I'm mistaken here? Because as I hear it in the video, it sounds as if it's the same rationalization for both A and C, because wheat had come to monopolize the region. Personally, that's what threw me off, because I wouldn't think they'd make you choose two out of the three answers, that sound pretty similar, using the same exact evidence.

Jan 28, 2016 • Comment

Adam

Hi Jacob,

I think the confusion here is just that the question as written here doesn't specify that this is a "select all that apply" question. On the GRE, this question would note:

For the following question, consider each of the choices separately and select all that apply.

Feb 3, 2016 • Reply

Andrew B Dingledy

I was in the same boat as Jacob. It wasn't that I couldn't decide between choice A or C (A was clearly one of the answers), it was that choice C mentions a "relatively small portion", yet from the essay you can see that 1/3 of the farmland was devoted to crops other than wheat. To me, 1/3 is not relatively small. Could you explain why that interpretation would be incorrect? Thanks.

Apr 25, 2016 • Reply

Cydney Seigerman, Magoosh Tutor

Hi Andrew :)

Thanks for your message! For this question, both A and C are correct answers. I agree that the wording "a relatively small portion" in C could be somewhat misleading. However, the reasoning behind C comes from the line, "Wheat had come to nearly monopolize the region." In other words, wheat was the main crop being produced in the region and much less land was used for the production of other crops.

I hope this helps, at least a little :)

Apr 25, 2016 • Reply

2

Gravatar Chris Lele, Magoosh Tutor

Dec 8, 2012 • Comment

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