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Sample GMAT Reading Comprehension Questions


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In an unfinished but highly suggestive series of essays, the late Sarah Eisentein has focused attention on the evolution of working women’s values from the turn of the century to the First World War. Eisenstein argues that turn-of-the-century women neither wholly accepted nor rejected what she calls the dominant “ideology of domesticity,” but rather took this and other available ideologies-feminism, socialism, trade unionism-and modified or adapted them in light of their won experiences and needs. In thus maintaining that wages-work helped to produce a new “consciousness” among women, Eisenstein to some extent challenges the recent, controversial proposal by Leslie Tentler that for women the work experience only served to reinforce the attractiveness of the dominant ideology. According to the Tentler, the degrading conditions under which many female wage earners worked made them view the family as a source of power and esteem available nowhere else in their social world. In contrast, Eisenstein’s study insists that wage-work had other implications for women’s identities and consciousness. Most importantly, her work aims to demonstrate that wage-work enabled women to become aware of themselves as a distinct social group capable of defining their collective circumstance. Eisenstein insists that as a group working-class women were not able to come to collective consciousness of their situation until they began entering the labor force, because domestic work tended to isolate them from one another.

Unfortunately, Eisenstein’s unfinished study does not develop these ideas in sufficient depth or detail, offering tantalizing hints rather than an exhaustive analysis. Whatever Eisenstein’s overall plan may have been, in its current form her study suffers from the limited nature of the sources she depended on. She use the speeches and writings of reformers and labor organizers, who she acknowledges were far from representative, as the voice of the typical woman worker. And there is less than adequate attention given to the differing values of immigrant groups that made up a significant proportion of the population under investigation. While raising important questions, Eisenstein’s essays do not provide definitive answer, and it remains for others to take up the challenges they offer.

1. The primary purpose of the passage is to
(A) criticize a scholar’s assumptions and methodology
(B) evaluate an approach to women’s study
(C) compare two sociological theories
(D) correct a misconception about feminist theory
(E) defend an unpopular ideology

2. It can be inferred from the passage that, in Eisenstein’s view, working women at the turn of the century had which of the following attitudes toward the dominant ideology of their time?
(A) They resented the dominant ideology as degrading.
(B) They preferred the dominant idology to other available ideologies.
(C) They began to view the dominant idology to other availbale ideologies.
(D) They accepted some but not all aspects of the dominant ideology.
(E) They believed that the dominant ideology isolated them from one another.

3. Which of the following best describes the organization of the first paragraph of the passage?
(A) A chronological acount of a historical development is presented, and then furture develpments are predicted.
(B) A term is defined according to several different schools of thought, and then a new definition is formulated.
(C) A theory is presented, an alternative viewpoint is introduced, and then the reasoning behind the initial theory is summarized.
(D) A tentative proposal is made, reasons for and against it are weighed, and then a modified version of the proposal is offered.
(E) A controversy is described, its historical implications are assessed, and then a compromise is suggested.

4. Which of the following would the author of the passage be most likely to approve as a continuation of Eisenstein’s study?
(A) An oral history of promotion women labor organizers
(B) An analysis of letters and diaries written by typical female wage earners at the turn of the century
(C) An assessment of what different social and political groups defined as the dominant ideology in the early twentieth century
(D) A theoretical study of how socialism and feminism influenced one another at the turn of the century
(E) A documentary account of labor’s role in the introduction of women into the labor force

Neotropical coastal mangrove forests are usually “zonal,” with certain mangrove species found predominantly in the seaward portion of the habitat and other mangrove species on the more landward portions of the coast. The earliest research on mangrove forests produced descriptions of species distribution from shore to land, without exploring the causes of the distributions.

The idea that zonation is caused by plant succession was first expressed by J. H. Davis in a study of Florida mangrove forests. According to Davis’ scheme, the shoreline is being extended in a seaward direction because of the “land-building” role of mangroves, which, by trapping sediments over time, extend the shore. As a habitat gradually becomes more inland as the shore extends, the “land-building” species are replaced. This continuous process of accretion and succession would be interrupted only by hurricanes or storm flushings.

Recently the universal application of Davis’s succession paradigm has been challenged. It appears that in areas where weak currents and weak tidal energies allow the accumulation of sediments, mangroves will follow land formation and accelerate the rate of soil accretion; succession will proceed according to Davis’s scheme. But on stable coastlines, the distribution of mangrove species results in other patterns of zonation; “land building” does not occur.

To find a principle that explains the various distribution patterns, several researchers have looked to salinity and its effects on mangrove. While mangroves can develop in fresh water, they can also thrive in salinities as high as 2.5 times that of seawater. However, those mangrove species found in freshwater habitats do well only in the absence of competition, thus suggesting that salinity tolerance is a critical factor in competitive success among mangrove species. Research suggests that mangroves will normally dominate highly saline regions, although not because they require salt. Rather, they are metabolically efficient (and hence grow well) in portions of an environment whose high salinity excludes plants adapted to lower salinities. Tides create different degrees of salinity along a coastline. The characteristic mangrove species of each zone should exhibit a higher metabolic efficiency at that salinity than will any potential invader, including other species of mangrove.

5. The primary of the purpose of the passage is to
(A) refute the idea that the zonation exhibited in mangrove forests is caused by adaption to salinity
(B) describe the pattern of zonation typically found in Florida mangrove forests
(C) argue that Davis’ succession paradigm cannot be successfully applied to Florida mangrove forests
(D) discuss hypotheses that attempt to explain the zonation of coastal mangrove forests
(E) establish that plants that do well in saline forest environments requre salt to ahcieve maximum metabolic efficiency

6. According to the passage, the earliest research on mangrove forest produced which of the following?
(A) Data that implied random patterns of mangrove species distribution
(B) Descriptions of species distribtutions suggesting zonation
(C) Descriptions of the development of mangrove forests over time
(D) Reclassification of species formerly thought to be identical
(E) Data that confirmed the “land-building” role of mangroves

7. It can be inferred from the passage that Davis’ paradigm does NOT apply to which of the following?
(A) The shoreline of Florida mangrove forests first studies by Davis
(B) A shoreline in an area with weak currents
(C) A shoreline in an area with weak idal energy
(D) A shoreline extended by “land-building” species of mangrove
(E) A shoreline in which few sediments can accumulate

8. Information in the passage indicates that the author would most probably regard which of following statements as INCORRECT?
(A) Coastal mangrove forests are usually zonal.
(B) Hurricanes interrupt the process of accretion and succession that extends existing shorelines.
(C) Species of plants that thrive in a saline habitat require salt to flourish.
(D) Plants with the highest metabolic efficiency in a given habitat tend to exclude other plants from that habitat.
(E) Shoreline in areas with weak currents and trides are more likely to be extended through the porocess of accumulation of sediment than are shorleines with strong currents and tides.

Modern manufacturers, who need reliable sources of materials and technologically advanced components to operate profitably, face an increasingly difficult choice between owning the producers of these items (a practice known as backward integration) and buying from independent producers. Manufacturers who integrate may reap short-term rewards, but they often restrict their future capacity for innovative product development.
Backward integration removes the need for some purchasing and marketing functions, centralizers overhead, and permits manufacturers to eliminate duplicated efforts in research and development. Where components are commodities (ferrous metals or petroleum, for example), backward integration almost certainly boosts profits. Nevertheless, because product innovation means adopting the most technologically advanced and cost-effective ways of making components, backward integration may entail a serious risk for a technologically active company-for example, a producer of sophisticated consumer electronics.
A company that decides to make rather than buy important parts can lock itself into an outdated technology. Independent suppliers may be unwilling to share innovations with assemblers with whom they are competing. Moreover, when an assembler sets out to master the technology of producing advanced components, the resulting demands on its resources may compromise its ability to assemble these components successfully into end products. Long-term contracts with suppliers can achieve many of the same cost benefits as backward integration without compromising a company’s ability to innovate.
However, moving away from backward integration is not a complete solution either. Developing innovative technologies requires independent suppliers of components to invest huge sums in research and development. The resulting low profit margins on the sale of components threaten the long-term financial stability of these firms. Because the ability of end-product assemblers to respond to market opportunities depends heavily on suppliers of components, assemblers are often forced to integrate by purchasing the suppliers of components just to keep their suppliers in business.

9. According to the passage, all of the following are benefits associated with backward integration EXCEPT:
(A) improvement in the management of overhead expenses
(B) enhancement of profit margins on sales of components
(C) simplification of purchasing and marketing operations
(D) reliability of a source of necessary components
(E) elimination of unnecessary research efforts

10. According to passage, when an assembler buys a firm that makes some important component of the end product that the assembler produces, independent suppliers of the same component may
(A) withhold technological innovations from the assembler
(B) experience improved profit margins of on sales of their products
(C) lower their prices to protect themselves from competition
(D) suffer finanical difficluties and go out of business
(E) stop developing new versions of the component

11. Which of the following best describes the way the last paragraph functions in the context of the passage?
(A) The last in a series of arguments supporting the central argument of the passage is presented.
(B) A viewpoint is presented which qualifies one presented earlier in the passage.
(C) Evidence is presented in support of the argument developed in the preceding paragrap.
(D) Questions arising from the earlier discussion are identified as points of departure for further study of the topic.
(E) A specific example is presented to illustrate the main elements of argument presented in the earlier paragraphs.

12. According to the passage, which of the following relationships between profits and investments in research and development holds true for producers of technologically advanced components?
(A) Modest investments are required and the profit margins on component sales are lowl.
(B) Modest investments are required but the profit margins on component sales are quite high.
(C) Despite the huge investments that are required, the profit margins on components sales are high.
(D) Because huge investments are required, the profit margins on component sales are low.
(E) Long-term contractual relationships with purchasers of components ensure a high ratio of profits to investment costs.

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