It can be inferred from the passage that the “rules and regulations”

According to the conventional view, serfdom in nineteenth-century Russia inhibited economic growth. In this view Russian peasants’ status as serfs kept them poor through burdensome taxes in cash, in labor, and in kind; through restrictions on mobility; and through various forms of coercion. Melton, however, argues that serfdom was perfectly compatible with economic growth, because many Russian serfs were able to get around landlords’ rules and regulations. If serfs could pay for passports, they were usually granted permission to leave the estate. If they could pay the fine, they could establish a separate household; and if they had the resources, they could hire laborers to cultivate the communal lands, while they themselves engaged in trade or worked as migrant laborers in cities.

It can be inferred from the passage that the “rules and regulations” affecting serfdom in Russia involved

  1. responsibility for the work needed to accomplish certain defined tasks
  2. restrictions on freedom of movement
  3. limitations on the ability to set up an independent household

An important thing to keep in mind about the Reading Comprehension section of the GRE as we use PowerPrep online to study is that it is just that—reading comprehension. In other words, as difficult as it may seem, and it can be pretty tricky, the test makers will always give us all the information we need in the passage to answer the question. Even questions asks us what can be “inferred” from the passage, like question 16 of the second Verbal section on practice test 1, abide by this rule.

This question is kind enough to give us some keywords that are highlighted for us in the passage. Whenever the passage does this, we still want to be careful to note that our area may actually be broader than just the sentence that contains these keywords. In this passage, we’re told that Melton’s view is that serfs were able to get around landlords’ “rules and regulations,” and the next few sentences seem to provide examples of serfs finding ways around rules, so we probably want to look in these sentences to see what “rules and regulations” are inferred in the passage.

The examples that we’re given of serfs getting round rules involve:

  1. paying for passports in order to leave the estate
  2. paying a fine to establish a separate household
  3. hiring laborers to cultivate the communal land so that they could engage in other pursuits

Alright, since this is a select-all-that-apply question, we’ll need to examine each choice individually in order to determine whether it can be inferred from the passage. The information was actually not too difficult to find in the passage, which means the test makers are likely going to try to throw us off in the answer choices. We need to be very careful to think critically about what each answer choice is actually saying and whether it is something implied in the passage.

  • responsibility for the work needed to accomplish certain defined tasks

Hmm. The passage doesn’t specifically say anything about serfs having any responsibility. However, we’re told that serfs could hire laborers to cultivate land while they pursued trade or work in cities. This implies that serfs had to find someone else to cultivate the communal land before they could pursue other forms of work. If the serfs were responsible for finding someone to fill their place cultivating land, then we can say they were responsible “for the work needed to accomplish certain defined tasks.” A may be subtle, but it is, indeed, implied in the passage. We should select A.

  • restrictions on freedom of movement

We’re told that serfs could leave the estate if they could afford a passport as one example of how serfs could get around rules and regulations. This implies that serfs would not normally be allowed to leave the estate, which would be a “restriction on freedom of movement.” B is a little more directly implied, so we should also select this answer.

  • limitations on the ability to set up an independent household

We’re told that serfs would need to pay a fine in order to “establish a separate household,” or, to paraphrase, “set up an independent household.” Being required to pay a fine in order to do this certainly implies that there were limitations on the ability of a serf to establish his own household. C is also implied in the passage and should be selected.

We can learn a few things from this question. First, it is important to pay attention to passage structure: noting that the sentences after our keywords listed examples of serfs getting around rules and regulations even though they didn’t say “for example,” was pretty crucial to finding the evidence for these answers. Second, we can expect that the test makers may phrase an answer in such a way that it is hardly recognizable as information from the passage, so it is important to think critically about what the answers are saying and look for similar information in the passage. Third, there’s NO REASON why all three answers to a select-all-that-apply question cannot be correct. A, B, and C could all be inferred from this passage, so all three should be selected.

 

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