A Guide to the GRE/Reading Practice 5

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Reading Practice 5[edit]

“Cave man” is a term commonly applied to neolithic peoples throughout the world. The term, however, is a misnomer. Contrary to popular belief, early stone 5 age peoples probably did not live in caves, but rather used them for worship and religious ceremonies. The idea of cave dwellers stems from the discovery of a variety of cave paintings, which were 10 initially thought to have been decorations by inhabitants of the caves. The complexity of these paintings, however, suggests that they were done by people who devoted their time exclusively to 15 making cave paintings, and while some argue this is indicative of prehistoric support for arts and culture, a more prevalent view amongst anthropologists is that these ancient peoples believed that 20 their artistic depictions of creatures on the walls of caves gave them special powers over the creatures, enabling the creatures to be hunted and ultimately eaten.

1. In which sentence does the author express the author's own opinion about the purpose of cave paintings by prehistoric humans?

(A) the first sentence (“'Cave man'...world.”) (B) the second sentence (“The term...misnomer.”) (C) the third sentence (“Contrary...ceremonies.”) (D) the fourth sentence (“The idea...caves.”) (E) the fifth sentence (“The complexity...eaten.”)

2. As used in the passage, the term “misnomer” (line 3) most nearly means

(A) euphemism (B) ambiguity (C) overgeneralization (D) inaccuracy (E) incompletion

3. Based on the information in the passage, why did ancient peoples most likely depict animals on the walls of caves?

(A) to celebrate successful hunts (B) to gain mystical powers over the animals which they hunted (C) to decorate the caves, which they used for ceremonial reasons (D) to demonstrate the level of skill of their artisans (E) to document the various types of animals which they hunted


3.15 Reading Practice Passage 5

Comments[edit]

Answers to Practice Questions[edit]

1. (E)

While the fifth sentence initially discusses a view that the author claims some people hold, this very long sentence ultimately goes on to explain what the author thinks - that prehistoric people thought that depicting the creatures they hunted helped achieve power over these creatures, enhancing their hunting skills.

2. (D)

A misnomer is a misleading or inaccurate name. In context, the passage is using it to explain why the term “cave man” is inaccurate since neolithic peoples probably did not live in caves.

“Euphemism” refers to a nicer way of saying something, while “ambiguity” means something which is unclear or open to different interpretations. “Overgeneralization” is something which too broad and not specific enough to its content. “Incompletion” refers to something not yet finished.

3. (B)

As explained in the passage and the first answer, the author is of the opinion that ancient people thought depicting animals gave them powers over the animals they hunted and thus enhanced their hunting skills. There is no mention in the passage of answer (A)'s successful hunts, and while (C) is mentioned as a viewpoint, it is not the author's viewpoint. This is also the case with (D) - while the author mentions some might think the paintings were mere decorations, this is not what the author believes. Choice (E) is similarly incorrect because nothing in the passage discusses the use of the paintings for documentation.