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We are working on a new set of Verbal Tests for GMAT Club. [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2009, 22:39
Expert's post
We are working on a new set of Verbal Tests for GMAT Club. Several members have responded to our "Help Wanted Ad" and submitted their questions. I am posting the first batch and would love to hear your feedback about the questions. I would also like to know your opinion about how close this passage and each of the questions are to the Real GMAT (or Official Guide if you have not taken the GMAT yet) on a 1-5 scale where
1 is not close at all
2 is not close
3 is average/undecided
4 is close
5 is exact match

I will post the OA and Explanation in 1-3 days, depending on how many takers we get. Your feedback will help significantly and very much appreciated!



Since the eighteenth century, historians have been obsessed with the fall of the Roman Empire. It has been valued as an archetype for every perceived decline and remains one of the greatest historical questions with a tradition rich in scholarly interest. One of the primary reasons for the sheer number of theories is the notable lack of surviving evidence from the 4th and 5th centuries. Thus, historians must quickly depart from available evidence and comment based on how things ought to have worked, or based on evidence from previous and later periods, or on inductive reasoning.

The historian Vegetius theorized, and has recently been supported by the historian Arther Ferrill, that the Roman Empire – particularly the military – declined partially as a result of an influx of Germanic mercenaries into the ranks of the legions. This "Germanization" and the resultant cultural dilution or "barbarization", led to lethargy, complacency and loyalty to the Roman commanders, instead of the Roman government, among the legions and a surge in decadence amongst Roman citizenry.

Historian Rostovtzeff and economist Mises both argued that unsound economic policies played a key role in the impoverishment and decay of the Roman Empire. According to them, by the 2nd century A.D., the Roman Empire had developed a complex market economy in which trade was relatively free. After the 3rd century, however, debasement of the currency led to inflation. Price control laws resulted in prices that were significantly below their free-market equilibrium levels. Meanwhile the costs of military defence and the pomp of Emperors continued while artificially low prices led to the scarcity of foodstuffs, particularly in cities, whose inhabitants depended on trade in order to obtain them. Despite laws passed to prevent migration from the cities to the countryside, urban areas gradually became depopulated and many Roman citizens abandoned their specialized trades in order to practice subsistence agriculture. This, coupled with increasingly oppressive and arbitrary taxation, led to a severe net decrease in trade, technical innovation, entrepreneurialism, technological advancement, and the overall wealth of the empire.

Edward Gibbon famously placed the blame on a loss of civic virtue among the Roman citizens. They had gradually entrusted the role of defending the Empire to barbarian mercenaries who eventually turned on them. Gibbon considered that Christianity had contributed to this, making the populace less interested in the worldly here-and-now and more willing to wait for the rewards of heaven.

However, these theories sometimes reflect the particular concerns that historians might have on cultural, political, or economic trends in their own times. Gibbon's criticism of Christianity reflects the values of the Enlightenment. In the 19th century, socialist and anti-socialist theorists tended to blame decadence and other political problems. More recently, environmental concerns have become popular, with deforestation and soil erosion proposed as major factors, and destabilizing population decreases due to epidemics such as early cases of bubonic plague and malaria have also been cited.



1. The primary purpose of this passage is?

A. To question the various conflicting theories that exists on the fall of the Roman Empire.
B. To clarify some of the ambiguity surrounding the fall of the Roman Empire.
C. To discredit some of the theories proposed by various historians on the possible causes of the fall of the Roman Empire.
D. To describe the ambiguity surrounding the fall of the Roman Empire and the resulting scholarly interest created by this ambiguity.
E. To present the views of various historians on the fall of the Roman Empire and review them from a historic perspective.


2. Which of the following best describes the author’s reaction towards Gibbon’s view on the decline of the Roman Empire?

A. Passive Acquiescence
B. Guarded Scepticism
C. Complete Indifference
D. Professional Disagreement
E. Scholarly Criticism


3. Which of the following have been cited by the passage as possible factors that in some way contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire?

I – Increased discontent in the Roman army
II – Environmental factors such as deforestation
III – High Taxation

A. I & II
B. I & III
C. II & III
D. I, II, & III
E. None of the Above


4. Based on the passage, what can be inferred about the Roman Market Economy prior to the 2nd century A.D?

A. Was driven neither by technology nor by entrepreneurialism
B. Was a relatively simple and protected economy
C. Had laws to prevent migration of workers from the cities to the countryside.
D. Was experiencing serious inflation because of the debasement of the currency.
E. Was subject to price controls, leading to trade imbalances.
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Re: GMAT Club Experimental RC 1-1 [#permalink] New post 15 Mar 2009, 22:58
bb wrote:
We are working on a new set of Verbal Tests for GMAT Club. Several members have responded to our "Help Wanted Ad" and submitted their questions. I am posting the first batch and would love to hear your feedback about the questions. I would also like to know your opinion about how close this passage and each of the questions are to the Real GMAT (or Official Guide if you have not taken the GMAT yet) on a 1-5 scale where
1 is not close at all
2 is not close
3 is average/undecided
4 is close
5 is exact match

I will post the OA and Explanation in 1-3 days, depending on how many takers we get. Your feedback will help significantly and very much appreciated!



Since the eighteenth century, historians have been obsessed with the fall of the Roman Empire. It has been valued as an archetype for every perceived decline and remains one of the greatest historical questions with a tradition rich in scholarly interest. One of the primary reasons for the sheer number of theories is the notable lack of surviving evidence from the 4th and 5th centuries. Thus, historians must quickly depart from available evidence and comment based on how things ought to have worked, or based on evidence from previous and later periods, or on inductive reasoning.

The historian Vegetius theorized, and has recently been supported by the historian Arther Ferrill, that the Roman Empire – particularly the military – declined partially as a result of an influx of Germanic mercenaries into the ranks of the legions. This "Germanization" and the resultant cultural dilution or "barbarization", led to lethargy, complacency and loyalty to the Roman commanders, instead of the Roman government, among the legions and a surge in decadence amongst Roman citizenry.

Historian Rostovtzeff and economist Mises both argued that unsound economic policies played a key role in the impoverishment and decay of the Roman Empire. According to them, by the 2nd century A.D., the Roman Empire had developed a complex market economy in which trade was relatively free. After the 3rd century, however, debasement of the currency led to inflation. Price control laws resulted in prices that were significantly below their free-market equilibrium levels. Meanwhile the costs of military defence and the pomp of Emperors continued while artificially low prices led to the scarcity of foodstuffs, particularly in cities, whose inhabitants depended on trade in order to obtain them. Despite laws passed to prevent migration from the cities to the countryside, urban areas gradually became depopulated and many Roman citizens abandoned their specialized trades in order to practice subsistence agriculture. This, coupled with increasingly oppressive and arbitrary taxation, led to a severe net decrease in trade, technical innovation, entrepreneurialism, technological advancement, and the overall wealth of the empire.

Edward Gibbon famously placed the blame on a loss of civic virtue among the Roman citizens. They had gradually entrusted the role of defending the Empire to barbarian mercenaries who eventually turned on them. Gibbon considered that Christianity had contributed to this, making the populace less interested in the worldly here-and-now and more willing to wait for the rewards of heaven.

However, these theories sometimes reflect the particular concerns that historians might have on cultural, political, or economic trends in their own times. Gibbon's criticism of Christianity reflects the values of the Enlightenment. In the 19th century, socialist and anti-socialist theorists tended to blame decadence and other political problems. More recently, environmental concerns have become popular, with deforestation and soil erosion proposed as major factors, and destabilizing population decreases due to epidemics such as early cases of bubonic plague and malaria have also been cited.



1. The primary purpose of this passage is?

A. To question the various conflicting theories that exists on the fall of the Roman Empire.
B. To clarify some of the ambiguity surrounding the fall of the Roman Empire.
C. To discredit some of the theories proposed by various historians on the possible causes of the fall of the Roman Empire.
D. To describe the ambiguity surrounding the fall of the Roman Empire and the resulting scholarly interest created by this ambiguity.
E. To present the views of various historians on the fall of the Roman Empire and review them from a historic perspective.


2. Which of the following best describes the author’s reaction towards Gibbon’s view on the decline of the Roman Empire?

A. Passive Acquiescence
B. Guarded Scepticism
C. Complete Indifference
D. Professional Disagreement
E. Scholarly Criticism


3. Which of the following have been cited by the passage as possible factors that in some way contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire?

I – Increased discontent in the Roman army
II – Environmental factors such as deforestation
III – High Taxation

A. I & II
B. I & III
C. II & III
D. I, II, & III
E. None of the Above


4. Based on the passage, what can be inferred about the Roman Market Economy prior to the 2nd century A.D?

A. Was driven neither by technology nor by entrepreneurialism
B. Was a relatively simple and protected economy
C. Had laws to prevent migration of workers from the cities to the countryside.
D. Was experiencing serious inflation because of the debasement of the currency.
E. Was subject to price controls, leading to trade imbalances.



My take on the answers:

1) A

2) E

3) C

4) none of the choices sound convincing. But, I'm not good in RC, so please don't take this as criticism.
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Re: GMAT Club Experimental RC 1-1 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2009, 01:48
Here are my ans:
E
E
C
B
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Re: GMAT Club Experimental RC 1-1 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2009, 03:28
A. To question the various conflicting theories that exists on the fall of the Roman Empire.
- Not questioning, author is describing all views
B. To clarify some of the ambiguity surrounding the fall of the Roman Empire.
- Never clarified or reviewed
C. To discredit some of the theories proposed by various historians on the possible causes of the fall of the Roman Empire.
- No direct Scepticism
D. To describe the ambiguity surrounding the fall of the Roman Empire and the resulting scholarly interest created by this ambiguity.
- IMO : describing ambiguity and scholarly interest (recent hypothesis)
E. To present the views of various historians on the fall of the Roman Empire and review them from a historic perspective.
- first part is good but "review" part is little ambiguious here - no where author tried to review whether notions were correct.

2. E
3. C
4. B
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Re: GMAT Club Experimental RC 1-1 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2009, 10:40
I will rate it Excellent(4 out of 5)

My take is
D
A
C
A

Last Q(4th )--I applied PoE

Other Qs--directly from 4 paras

I liked the RC very much.
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Re: GMAT Club Experimental RC 1-1 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2009, 16:41
D,D,C,B

Last 2 were easy. First two were tough.

For Q 2, I quickly ruled out A,C

There is no skepticism. Hence B out

D and E remain.

How ever, these theories sometimes reflect the particular concerns that historians might have on cultural, political, or economic trends in their own times.

I feel that the author is disagreeing that the views are true reflection of the reasons/causes of decline of roman empire. I felt that the word scholarly criticism is a bit too strong. I did not like the word professional either because we dont know much about the author. But if we equate professional with scholarly (for the sake of this Q), D wins.

Level 3 Probably.
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Re: GMAT Club Experimental RC 1-1 [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2009, 21:48
Expert's post
Here are the official answers and explanations - thoughts????
(I personally did not get #3 right)


OA –

1 – D
2 – D
3 – E
4 – B



Solutions:-

1. The passage simply describes the ambiguity surrounding the fall of the Roman Empire.

2. The author simply disagrees with Gibbon’s theory and weakens it by giving an alternative explanation for why he may have thought so. Nowhere does he criticize any of the historians mentioned in the passage.

3.
I - The passages talks about complacency and loyalty to the Roman commanders but nowhere does it mention discontent.
II – This is mentioned as one of the causes for the decline
III – There is a reference to arbitrary and unfair taxation but not high taxation.

Therefore the answer is E.

4. The passage talks about how during the 2nd century, the Roman Empire had developed a complex market economy in which trade was relatively free. This leads us to infer that prior to this century the market economy was closed and relatively closed.
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Re: GMAT Club Experimental RC 1-1 [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2009, 22:37
I disagree with 3. deforestation is clearly mentioned as the cause
bb wrote:
Here are the official answers and explanations - thoughts????
(I personally did not get #3 right)


OA –

1 – D
2 – D
3 – E
4 – B



Solutions:-

1. The passage simply describes the ambiguity surrounding the fall of the Roman Empire.

2. The author simply disagrees with Gibbon’s theory and weakens it by giving an alternative explanation for why he may have thought so. Nowhere does he criticize any of the historians mentioned in the passage.

3.
I - The passages talks about complacency and loyalty to the Roman commanders but nowhere does it mention discontent.
II – This is mentioned as one of the causes for the decline
III – There is a reference to arbitrary and unfair taxation but not high taxation.

Therefore the answer is E.

4. The passage talks about how during the 2nd century, the Roman Empire had developed a complex market economy in which trade was relatively free. This leads us to infer that prior to this century the market economy was closed and relatively closed.
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Re: GMAT Club Experimental RC 1-1 [#permalink] New post 18 Mar 2009, 04:59
I guess there is some trickery in Q 3

More recently, environmental concerns have become popular, with deforestation and soil erosion proposed as major factors, and destabilizing population decreases due to epidemics such as early cases of bubonic plague and malaria have also been cited

This, coupled with increasingly oppressive and arbitrary taxation, led to a severe net decrease in trade, technical innovation, entrepreneurialism, technological advancement, and the overall wealth of the empire.

I fell for the trap. arbitary != High

Because there is no answer choice that has only III, the answer is E.
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Re: GMAT Club Experimental RC 1-1 [#permalink] New post 18 Mar 2009, 22:44
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Only 4 votes? Common guys I think you can do better.

here are my take away points:

Good passage; fairly close to the real passage text - medium to high complexity? I see a many missed at least 2 questions.
Question 3 is not very typical but others seem to fit closely.

Am I off? Is this passage acceptable if question 3 is fixed or more work is required to get it to feel right?
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Re: GMAT Club Experimental RC 1-1   [#permalink] 18 Mar 2009, 22:44
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