Skip to Main Content

Source: Official Guide Revised GRE 2nd Ed. Part 9; Section 4; #22


The passage is primarily concerned with

The passage is primarily concerned with Nineteenth-century architect Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc contended that Paris's Notre-Dame Cathedral, built primarily in the late twelfth century, was supported from the very beginning by a system of flying buttresses - a series of exterior arches (flyers) and their supports (buttresses) - which permitted the construction of taller vaulted buildings with slimmer walls and interior supports than had been possible previously. Other commentators insist, however, that Notre-Dame did not have flying buttresses until the thirteenth or fourteenth century, when they wre added to update the building aesthetically and correct its structural flaws. Although post-twelfth-century modifications and renovations complicate efforts to resolve this controversy - all pre-fifteenth-century flyers have been replaced, and the buttresses. It is clear, now that nineteenth-century paint and plaster have been removed, that the nave's lower buttresses date from the twelfth century. Moreover, the choir's lower flyers have chevron (zigzag) decoration. Chevron decoration, which was characteristic of the second half of the twelfth century and was out of favor by the fourteenth century, is entirely absent from modifications to the building that can be dated with confidence to the thirteenth century. tracing the development of a controversy, discussing obstacles to resolving a controversy, arguing in support of one side in a controversy, analyzing the assumptions underlying the claims made in a controversy, explaining why evidence relevant to a controversy has been overlooked

2 Explanations


Nafeesa Khan

Hi, Why can't D be the answer?
The passage says that flying buttresses were present on Notre-Dame from the twelfth century on the basis that the choir’s lower flyers feature a chevron decoration that was characteristic of the twelfth century. So isn't it an assumption?

Feb 28, 2019 • Comment


Hey Nafeesa,
Happy to help!
First of all, the fact that we can use the chevrons to show that the buttresses are from the twelfth century is not an assumption: this is stated directly by the text as part of the argument. Assumptions are not stated, but lie behind the argument.

Second, the discussion about the chevrons is only two sentences long. It's a minor piece of the overall argument, and is used to support a specific position: that the buttresses are original and not added later. So the main idea is that the buttresses are original, and the part about the chevrons simply supports that idea.

Hope that helps!

Mar 4, 2019 • Reply


Chris Lele

Dec 8, 2012 • Comment

Hi, I'm still unclear about why A can't be correct. I see that C is more correct but isn't the passage looking at how the controversy developed?

Oct 1, 2016 • Reply

Cydney Seigerman, Magoosh Tutor

Hi Anne :)

Happy to help! The passage describes the controversy surrounding when the Notre-Dame cathedral was first supported by flying buttresses. While the author presents evidence to support one side of the controversy, the author does not go into detail as to how the controversy developed. In other words, the reader learns about the two sides but is not presented with any changes/developments in the two arguments themselves. We don't see evolution in the controversy but rather read about two steadfast positions.

I hope this helps you understand why A is not correct! If not, let us know :)

Oct 8, 2016 • Reply

Add Your Explanation

You must have a Magoosh account in order to leave an explanation.

Learn More About Magoosh