Free GMAT® Reading Comprehension Sample Questions

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Reading Comprehension

Question DetailShow Details
Directions: Answer the questions after reading through the passage. Base your answers on information that is either stated or implied in the passage then click to see the answers.

Passage

Prior to the nineteenth century, both human and animal populations were limited by the finite resources (such as food) to which they had access. When the enormous increases in prosperity ushered in by the Industrial Revolution essentially freed many Western nations from these constraints, scientists of the time expected Malthusian explosion in population. However, an inverse relationship between prosperity and reproduction was soon noted; the average size of families fell. The trend continues to this day and has spread to recently industrialized portions of the world.

Early biologists tried to explain the transition to smaller families by drawing comparisons to the animal world. Animals that have many young tend to live in hostile, unpredictable environments. Since the odds against any given offspring's survival are high, having many offspring increases the chance that at least one or two of them will survive. In contrast, animals that have fewer children but invest more resources in childrearing tend to live in stable, less hostile environments. While the young of these “high-investment” species enjoy the benefits of a relatively safe environment, they need to compete with animals whose young are equally unlikely to perish early in life. Therefore, the biologists observed, progeny that have acquired the skills they need to compete while sheltered by a family have an advantage over their less prepared competitors. By analogy, if people living in a prosperous environment produced only a few, pampered children, those children would outcompete the progeny of parents who had stretched their resources too widely.

Critics of this theory argue that there are limitations in conflating animal and human behavior. They argue instead that changes in social attitudes are adequate to explain this phenomenon. To a family in a society that is tied to the land, a large number of children is a great boon. They increase family income by being put to work early, and usually some can be persuaded to care for their parents into old age. As a society becomes richer, and as physical labor becomes less important, education may extend into the early twenties, making children economically unattractive as they now consume family assets rather than produce them. Meanwhile, plans such as pensions and Social Security mitigate the need for children to care for their parents into their dotage.

Question 1Show Details

The primary purpose of the passage is to






Question 2Show Details

According to the passage, which of the following is true of a Malthusian explosion on population?






Question 3Show Details

The last paragraph performs which of the following functions in the passage?






Question 4Show Details

The passage mentions each of the following as a possible reason average family size might fall in recently industrialized nations EXCEPT:






Question 5Show Details

The information in the passage suggests that which of the following animals would be most likely to have many young?






Question 6Show Details

The author mentions a decrease in the importance of physical labor (line 28) in order to