June 2007, Passage 4, Question 25

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Question 25, question 25 is a kind of detail question where they pull out a little phrase or set of words and they ask, what's it referring to? So they're saying, what is this specifically referring back to in the passage? We also sometimes call these vocabulary in context questions.

Which reminds us that the way we do them is, we go back and reread the context around those references to figure out what that phrase is referring to. So if we read a little bit before the first reference to find that phrase, documentary record, in the first paragraph, they say, such documentary sources provide a fragmentary record at best. And then they say that many of the relevant documents from the 16th century focus selectively on matters relating to military or commercial interests.

In other words, the documentary record is the surviving documents that we have about the time period. So we're looking for an answer choice that says that. So answer choice A, documented results of the analyses of fossilized pollen. So there aren't any documented results discussed in the passage. I mean, presumably, people write down the things that they learn about pollen, but that's not something that's mentioned directly in the passage.

So it can't be the reference to the term that they just used. Go to answer choice B, answer choice B is also about the pollen grains, this is the kinds and quantities of those pollen grains. Again, presumably, people write these things down, but that's not what the author was talking about when they said the documentary record. That was the surviving documents that relate to the time period that they're studying, not the stuff that they're producing now.

Answer choice C then is also wrong, because it's talking about what current historians are writing. The documentary record is the documents that survive from the time period, not what people right now are writing. Answer choice D, this is our answer, so government and commercial records, maps, and similar documents.

That's what they said in the first paragraph. They rely primarily on evidence for historical documents. Many of those documents focus selectively on matters relating to military or commercial interests. And then they are supplementing that documentary record by studying the pollen grains.

So D is what we wanted, we should pick the answer, but just to say why answer choice E is wrong. So answer choice E, articles, books, and other documents by current historians. Again, the documentary record is not created by current historians, it is what the historians study, so E is not our answer.

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