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GRE Short Reading Passages

Unlike the old GRE, the Revised GRE has short reading passages that are relatively straightforward and less dense. This doesn’t  mean that the GRE has been dumbed down, rather the test is drawing from a wider range of reading.

Below is an example of an informational passage. It is definitely not academic and even an intelligent middle school student could understand it. Of course you shouldn’t see too many passages like this one, but you may see one or two, depending on whether you receive an easy or difficult section.

Just because the passage is relatively straightforward doesn’t mean that the questions following it will be easy. My advice: read the passage carefully, but do not try to digest every detail. Once you get to the answer choices be sure to base your answer on a specific part of the passage.

This passage, on Jupiter, is accompanied by two questions. Neither is easy (both would have even a very intelligent middle school-er scratching his/her head).

 

Jupiter has 2.5 times more mass than all the other planets of the solar system combined and is 11 times as large as Earth in diameter. Jupiter is so large that scientists believe it almost became a star: as the gases and dust contracted to the form the planet, gravitational forces created tremendous pressure and temperature inside the core—as high as tens of thousands of degrees. But there was not enough mass available to create the temperature needed to start a fusion reaction such as that of the Sun (above 27,000,000 Fahrenheit, or 15,000,000 Celsius, at the Sun’s core); thus Jupiter has been cooling down ever since. Even so, Jupiter radiates about as much heat as it receives from the Sun.

 

1. Which of the following can be inferred from the passage? SELECT ALL THAT APPLY.

(A) Exo-planets the size of Jupiter can be expected to have a core that is the same temperature as that of Jupiter.

(B) All observable stars in the galaxy formed from planets that heated over 27,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

(C) The mass of a planet can have an effect on the temperature of its core.

 

2. The passage is mainly concerned with

(A)  the size of Jupiter relative to other planets in the solar system

(B)  differences between the sun and Jupiter

(C)  how Jupiter’s mass has affected its development

(D) the temperature at which a planet’s core can start a fusion reaction

(E)  amount of power radiated by Jupiter

 

Answers:

1. C only

2. C

 

Explanations:

1.  (A) Based on the passage, we do not know what the exact relation between mass and heat is. Thus we can’t extrapolate to other planets.

(B) We only know that the sun formed at this temperature. Even if this fact is true (I’d have to ask an astronomer) [Editor’s note: Actually, a lot of planets are made of the same stuff as stars – they’re planets because they’re not massive enough to start fusion], the passage does not provide enough information.

(C) The passage mentions, “But there was not enough mass available to create the temperature needed…” Therefore (C).

 

2. The passage is mainly concerned with how Jupiter’s mass affected its development. Jupiter could have become a sun…but not quite. That is the main thrust. Hence (C).

 

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