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PrepTest 73, Passage 1, Question 4


Question four. When a question asks what the author would be most likely to agree with, you're doing an inference question. On an inference question, our job is to track down enough information in the passage to prove something. Here, to prove what the author would believe.

Here, this doesn't give us much to go on in terms of where to look, because the author says a lot of things. Any part of the passage could support something that the author believes in. So we're gonna have to go and use a process of elimination on the answer choices, one by one, researching to see what we can prove. We'll know we have the right answer when we have enough evidence to prove without a doubt that it's true.

So answer choice A says that the author would agree that natural selection is responsible for almost none of the characteristics of existing species. This is a classic trap, taking something the author said and making it too extreme. The author says that natural selection isn't responsible for everything, not that it's responsible for almost nothing. So A goes too far.

It's not what our author thought. So go to B. The fact that a species flourishes in a certain environment is not proof of its adaptation to that environment. This is something that we can prove. And we can prove it from the discussion of the mammals in the paragraph about the Cretaceous extinctions.

If you look back there, they tell us that the constructionist view assumes that adaptations or responses to conditions that are already in place at the time that the adaptations occur. But they say that can't happen. The mammals couldn't have adapted to the things that were already happening. So the fact that they survived didn't prove that they adapted, it was just luck.

So answer choice B is something we can prove. Why are the other answers wrong? C says that only evolutionary changes that provide advantage are transmit on. This is the opposite of what our author thinks. The author thinks actually that lots of non-adaptive alterations are passed on. It's not only those that provide an advantage.

This is the right idea but the wrong person. This is the strict constructionist view, not the author's view. Answer choice D, large animal species are generally unable to survive. This is a too extreme version of something that author did say. The author said that in the Cretaceous, the large species didn't adapt very well and that in general, smaller species have an easier time.

Having a harder time doesn't mean that the animals are generally unable to survive, it's just they have it a little bit rougher. So answer choice D takes something the passage says and makes it too far, which can't be the answer to an inference question. And then answer choice E, natural selection is useful for explaining the form but not the behavior.

This is another one of those irrelevant comparisons. In fact, it's the same one as from the last question. The author does mention form, and does mention behavior, but the author never compares them and says that it's useful for one, but not the other. So they take some familiar concepts from the passage, mix them together, hope you pick them just because they're familiar.

But you're not gonna do that, you're gonna pick things that you can prove, like answer choice B.

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