The highlighted sentence has which of the following functions in

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.

The highlighted sentence has which of the following functions in the passage?

  1. It provides support for an argument presented in the preceding sentence.
  2. It provides evidence that helps undermine a view introduced in the first sentence.
  3. It raises a question that the succeeding sentence will resolve.

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 about how sentences in the passage function, like question 17 of the second Verbal section on practice test 1, are not based on our interpretation of the passage.

Alright, this question asks about the function of a particular sentence in the passage. Even though were asked about a specific sentence, we want to make sure we understand the passage as a whole in order to ensure that we know how that particular sentence functions. Additionally, this is a select-all-that-apply question, so we may identify more than one function of the sentence.

The passage starts by explaining is that the “conventional view” of “serfdom in nineteenth-century Russia” (casual dinner conversation) inhibited economic growth, which is, at least in part, due to the fact that it kept poor people poor through taxes, restrictions, and coercion (we shouldn’t let the semicolons in this sentence throw us off—semicolons can be used, as they are here, to separate list items that contain internal commas). Melton’s view, we’re then told, contrasts with this view, stating that serfdom was compatible with economic growth because serfs could get around rules and regulations. Now we come to our highlighted sentence, which explains that serfs could usually leave the estate if they could find the money to pay for a passport. Hmm. Since we know that “restrictions on mobility” was a specific restriction mentioned earlier in the passage, this seems to be an example of what Melton was talking about: a serf getting around “rules and regulations.” This reading of the sentence is further supported by the next sentence, which provides two more examples of serfs getting around rules if they had enough money.

Alright, so it seems our highlighted sentence, though it doesn’t contain any obvious phrases like “for example,” is an example of Melton’s argument in action. Let’s see what answer(s) might reflect this function of the sentence, or even other secondary functions that we may not have immediately identified.

  • It provides support for an argument presented in the preceding sentence.

Yes! This answer matches what we noted about the highlighted sentence: it provides an example of a serf being able to evade a rule, which supports Melton’s argument. A is a function of the sentence supported by our understanding of the passage, so we should select this answer.

  • It provides evidence that helps undermine a view introduced in the first sentence.

Hmm. We didn’t note a connection between this sentence and the first one, but let’s think about this. The first sentence advanced the “conventional view” that serfdom inhibited economic growth. However, we know that this sentence supports Melton’s view, which contradicts the “conventional view.” Ergo, this evidence contradicts the conventional view, and therefore “undermines” or weakens the view described in the first sentence. B is also supported by the passage and should be selected.

  • It raises a question that the succeeding sentence will resolve.

We did not note any questions raised by our highlighted sentence, but we DID note that the succeeding, or following, sentence raised two additional examples of serfs working to get past regulations. C is not supported and can be eliminated.

After quickly reading the passage in order to gain context, we were able to confirm that both A and B are functions of the highlighted sentence that we can support with information from the passage, so A and B are correct.

 

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