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PrepTest 73, Passage 1, Question 1


Question one asks us for the main point of the passage, which we call by the uncreative name, a main point question. On a main point question, our job is to find an answer that sums up the passage as a whole. It doesn't have to mention every single concept that comes up in the passage, but it needs to be broad enough that it could cover all of those concepts.

It lays out the author's overall agenda. On these questions, if you've done your work ahead of time, if you've read the passage and the way that you should read it, you should have a pretty good prediction as to what's going to come in the answer choices. We said that the author's agenda was to attack the strict constructionist. So show that there are good scientific reasons to disbelieve the things that they believe.

That's what we're going to be looking for when we hit the answers. Answer choice A. Evidence from two areas of science undermines the strict constructionist claim that natural selection is the only driving force behind evolution. The two examples are the two areas of science, and the author did say that that that undermined the strict constructionists claim, the author went on the attack against the strict constructionist.

Even better, their claim that natural selection is the only driving force behind evolution, that's definitely what they thought and that's in our notes for the first paragraph. So everything lines up, answer choice A is our answer. On the day of the test, you're still probably going to look at the other answers, but it would take a lot to move you off of this answer because it matches in every way up to what we wanted.

So let's see what's wrong with the other answers. So answer choice B is mixed up. We do know that there's new evidence, but it's not new evidence that's being presented by the strict constructionists. It was new evidence from those other biologists, the ones that disprove the strict constructionist.

Lots of answer choices take random concepts from the passage and sort of smoosh them together. This is basically the taskmaker counting on you picking things that just sound familiar even though they don't match the contents of the passage. It's like, didn't he say something about that? Yeah, but that's not what he said.

So B is not the answer. C is half of what the passage said but half is not good enough. There is some new evidence that demonstrates that natural selection can produce non-adaptive, as well as adaptive changes. That was the first example the author gave. But the point of the passage wasn't to give that example, the point of the passage was to attack the strict constructionists.

So a lot of wrong answer choices on main point questions will be things that the author did say, but that weren't the author's main point. You can't pick it just because it's true, it has to be the main point. Answer choice D is also something that was said in the passage. Strict constructionists do maintain that natural selection is responsible for all evolutionary change, but our author was on the attack against that idea.

The point of the passage isn't they have this idea, it's that they're wrong to have this idea. And then answer choice E, it's a bit like B. It's another confused mess. It might be the most tempting, though because the author is disproving something about natural selection, but not what it says here.

The author doesn't say that natural selection doesn't result in the survival of the fittest species. Just that natural selection is entirely about reproductive success. There are other things that go on, too. So E isn't what the author said. Again, it kind of name checks concepts that we've heard before, but it wasn't the author's overall goal.

So it's not our answer. The answer was answer choice, A.

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