The passage implies which of the following about the relationship

Some universities have created environmental studies programs that can be marketed to prospective students but that suffer from too little administrative support, limited faculty resources, and a lack of careful deliberation over the hard choices. In the short term, this institutional strategy can pay rich dividends: at minimal expense a university can lay claim to an environmental studies program and attract new students or accommodate the interest of existing ones, perhaps with the full intention of bringing additional resources to bear in later years. As the number of students in these skeleton programs grows, however, the flimsy administrative and curricular scaffolding begins to buckle, leading to an anything-goes strategy that degenerates into curricular incoherence.

The passage implies which of the following about the relationship between students and environmental studies programs?

  1. Students new to a university are more likely to be aware of environmental studies programs than existing students are.
  2. Students prefer curricular incoherence in environmental studies programs to rigid administrative decision making.
  3. The curricular flexiblity of an environmental studies program is an attraction for new students.
  4. If a university offers an environmental studies program, then students will enroll in it.
  5. New students will guarantee the success of an environmental studies program.

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. This is especially important to keep in mind when the question asks us about something the passage “implies,” like question 10 of the second Verbal section on practice test 1.

Ok, first we should isolate what the question is asking us about: the relationship between students and the type of program discussed throughout the passage. So, we’ll want to look around the areas of the passage that specifically reference students. Also, the question asked what could be “implied” about this relationship, meaning our answer is likely not spelled out for us in the passage but rather is a conclusion that we could arrive at based on the passage. Let’s skim the passage for references to students.

Ah. The second sentence tells us that these programs are designed as an inexpensive way to “attract new students or accommodate the interest of existing ones” while the third sentence tells us that the “number of students in these skeleton programs” could very well grow, but as this happens the program might fall apart because it wasn’t really built on a solid foundation.

If we read carefully, we’ll realize that these are really the only ideas we can glean from the passage as far as how students relate to these programs: they’ll likely be attracted to them to the point that the programs will grow and then “buckle.” Let’s see if any answers reflect these ideas

  • Students new to a university are more likely to be aware of environmental studies programs than existing students are.

Here’s a FREE TIP, avoid answer choices that draw comparisons between ideas in the passage. This is the perfect example of a choice that uses keywords from the passage to create a comparison that was never actually made: we know that both new and existing students may be interested in these programs, but we DO NOT know if new students are “more likely” to know about them. We can eliminate A.

  • Students prefer curricular incoherence in environmental studies programs to rigid administrative decision making.

SEE A. We DO NOT know what students “prefer,” and, while we generally want to avoid making assumptions, common sense would indicate that students probably don’t love when their curriculum doesn’t make any sense. We can eliminate B.

  • The curricular flexibility of an environmental studies program is an attraction for new students.

Hmm. We do know that new students will be attracted to these programs, but we’re told neither why they would be attracted to these programs (presumably because, like existing students, it accommodates their interests) or that the curriculum is “flexible.” We should also not mistake “flimsy curricular scaffolding” as flexibility—the former implies a LACK of preparation while the latter implies that the curriculum is intentionally easy to mold. We can eliminate C.

  • If a university offers an environmental studies program, then students will enroll in it.

Wow. Super simple choice, and yet, can we say it isn’t true? We know that these programs are an inexpensive way to attract or accommodate students, and we know that the number of students in these programs is likely to grow. Therefore, it logically follows that if a university were to institute one of these programs, students would enroll. D seems like a good answer, so let’s keep it.

  • New students will guarantee the success of an environmental studies program.

Uh… the passage made it sound like these programs are unlikely to be successful because they are not properly planned. In fact, the last sentence suggests that the very reason the programs will “buckle” is that new students will enroll which will expose the lack of planning. This answer is essentially the opposite of what the passage implies, so we can eliminate E.

Keep it simple! Although D may seem sort of obvious, we can’t say that it is wrong. The GRE likes to capitalize on our desire to find answers that really dig deep, but not all of the correct answers really do that. D is the only thing that can be logically concluded based on the information in the passage, so D is correct.

 

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