Which of the following statements is supported by the passage?

A tall tree can transport a hundred gallons of water a day from its roots deep underground to the treetop. Is this movement propelled by pulling the water from above or pushing it from below? The pull mechanism has long been favored by most scientists. First proposed in the late 1800s, the theory relies on a property of water not commonly associated with fluids: its tensile strength. Instead of making a clean break, water evaporating from treetops tugs on the remaining water molecules, with that tug extending from molecule to molecule all the way down to the roots. The tree itself does not actually push or pull; all the energy for lifting water comes from the sun’s evaporative power.

Which of the following statements is supported by the passage?

  1. The pull theory is not universally accepted by scientists.
  2. The pull theory depends on one of water’s physical properties.
  3. The pull theory originated earlier than did the push theory.

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. Questions that ask us about specific details of the passage, like number 17 on the second Verbal section of practice test 1, are a prime example.

This question is very straightforward, which means we want to be very careful and make sure to read our answer choices closely to make sure they don’t try to pull anything devious. We’re merely asked to select all of the answers that can be supported by the passage, which means that we’ll actually need to use keywords in our answers to help us navigate the passage in order to find out whether or not each answer is supported.

First, we’ll want to quickly read through the passage. We don’t need to understand every detail because, again, we can look back in the passage for those details that are specifically referenced in our question. However, we’ll want to make sure we have a general idea of the passage.

This passage starts by presenting a fact (that trees transport a whole lot of water every day) and presenting two different possible explanations for this phenomenon in the form of a question. Then, the passage provides support for one view (the “pull mechanism”) by briefly explaining how it would work given our knowledge of a particular property of water (“its tensile strength”).

Great. We’ve read the passage, so let’s examine each of these answers individually to determine whether or not it is supported.

  • The pull theory is not universally accepted by scientists.

Hmm. The passage did talk mostly about the “pull theory,” but it presented this in conjunction with the idea that there was another view. If we don’t remember, let’s look back towards the beginning before the passage started elaborating on how the theory works. Aha! In sentence three we’re told that the “pull mechanism has long been favored by most scientist.” Since the passage says “most” and not “all” scientist, then we know that some scientists do not accept this theory (like that fifth dentist who wouldn’t recommend Trident). To be “universally accepted” would mean that all scientist accept the theory, so this answer is TRUE: the passage does support the idea that the pull theory is NOT accepted by ALL scientists. We should select A.

  • The pull theory depends on one of water’s physical properties.

Hmm. We seem to remember something about a “property of water” from the passage, but if we aren’t sure we should look around the middle or end of the passage where the pull theory is actually described. Aha! The fourth sentence specifically tells us that this theory “relies on a property of water” and the information after the colon elaborates on what that property is, “its tensile strength.” The fifth sentence then further elaborates that water molecules “tug” on one another, so this “tensile strength” definitely sounds like a physical property. We should select B since this answer is also TRUE according to the passage.

  • The pull theory originated earlier than did the push theory.

Wait, did the passage say anything about when these theories originated? If we aren’t sure, we should keep in mind that this is an open-book test and take a look. Indeed, the fourth sentence begins “first proposed in the late 1800s,” which is an introductory phrase that describes the subject of the sentence, “the theory.” Wait, which theory? We’ll have to go back one more sentence; the third sentence talks about the “pull mechanism,” so we must be talking about that theory. But, when did the “push” theory originate? We don’t know. So, even though we know the pull theory has been around for a little while, we don’t know whether the push theory is older or not, so C is not supported by the passage. We should leave this answer unselected.

Again, we should keep in mind that this is an open-book reading test and make sure to read our answers and the passage carefully. Answer C tried to trap us into making an assumption since we were told that the “pull theory” originated in the 1800s, but as long as we recognize that not date was attributed to the “push theory” we know that we cannot say whether or not C is true.


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