Skip to Main Content
This is a free sample lesson. Sign up for Magoosh to get access to over 200 video lessons.

Primary Purpose

The content focuses on identifying the primary purpose of a passage in the GRE exam, emphasizing the importance of understanding the author's intent and how to accurately discern it amidst potentially misleading answer choices.
  • The primary purpose of a passage is often found by combining the context given in the first paragraph with the conclusion drawn in the last paragraph.
  • It's crucial to articulate the primary purpose in one's own words before looking at the answer choices to avoid being misled by their phrasing.
  • Four common pitfalls in wrong answer choices include being too general or vague, too specific, mentioning something not in the passage, or containing a 'rotten spot'—a minor detail that invalidates the option.
  • The process of elimination and critical analysis of each answer choice is essential, focusing on how well they match the primary purpose as understood by the reader.
  • The best answer may not perfectly match the reader's initial thought but should be the closest match without being factually incorrect.
Understanding the Primary Purpose
Identifying Key Locations for Primary Purpose
Crafting the Primary Purpose in Your Own Words
Analyzing Wrong Answer Choices
Evaluating and Choosing the Best Answer

Related Blog Posts

Main Idea Questions in GRE

FAQ: Can you tell me a bit more about why (D) is the best choice?

The writer says that the scientists need "to substantiate" their claim about the plasticity of the brain. This means they need to support the claim. The writer is not saying the claim is wrong, just that it is not fully supported. The writer then points out specific findings that still need to be made. By pointing out these specific missing findings, the author is saying that he or she hasconcerns about missing information. These concerns could also be called reservations. So the offering of reservations about a theory does seem to be the main purpose of the passage. As Chris said at the end of the video, D isn't a perfect match to the main purpose of the article. For instance, since only two sentences are devoted to the author's reservations, you could argue that there are fewer than several reservations.

However, while not perfect, D is the best answer. It deals with reservations, which are an important part of the passage. None of the other answer choices fully reflect an important part of the passage. And since the writer is not recommending new research methods or saying any specific ways that we can actually learn more, A does not really match the purpose of the passage at all.