What makes a CARS question a CARS question?

Chris Lele
Lesson by Chris Lele
Magoosh Expert
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In this lesson video, we're going to talk about what makes a CARS question a CARS question. What makes it difficult? Why can't you just read the passage and get the question right? I mean, especially if you understand the passage, then why wouldn't you get the question right?

But on the CARS passage, that is not the case, why? Well, if the test writers just took the exact part of the passage and kinda paired it or used that exact same language, then the answer choice would be really easy to go there and say, here's the answer. So they don't do that. What they do though, is they make wrong answer choices look like the right answer choices.

And they make them extremely tempting. That's really the heart of the CARS question and this video, is what are these tempting wrong answer choices? What are they doing exactly, and what are we thinking when we fall for these traps?. So over the course of this video, we're gonna talk about common traps and how to avoid them.

So again, different traps tend to pop up in different questions. I'm mentioning this now, because I'm gonna introduce a question in which many traps show up, that's not always the case. Sometimes something is just flat-out wrong and that's okay. And I would say that typically there are two answers that are tempting. One of them that is correct and one of them that is a trap.

Once in a while, you might have three, but rarely are you gonna have four tempting answers. Again, there are certain similarities to lookout for in these tempting answer choices. And I've given them names, cuz I think that makes it a lot more vivid. It stands out, it's easier to identify and recognize.

And the first one is word salad. Sounds fun, sounds enticing. Next is rotten spot, maybe not as enticing. Answers a different part of the question. No rottenness or salad involved, but definitely something to keep an eye out for.

And then we have true in the real world. What could these all possibly mean? Well, I'm gonna break them down starting with word salad. What could world salad possibly be? Well, there are many words, obviously, in the passage and ideas. And, a word salad answer choice takes specific words that you identify, you see them in the paragraph, there they are.

And it puts them together but kind of moves things around a little bit and distorts the meaning so that the answer choice is no longer correct. However, this is tempting. Why? Because again, it uses this language that's directly there in the passage. And it's tempting because on this entire section, we're rushing.

We wanna get to the end, which by the way, you're not offered extra points for finishing. But yet, we rush. Rush through to the end, we don't read carefully. And an answer choice seems to have words that were mentioned in the lines that we're reading, so it seems correct.

We're gonna choose it, and boom, you've been trapped by the word salad. Next we have the rotten spot. What could that mean? Well, everything about it is perfectly correct. Everything except for that one or two or three words. Speaking of one word, it could be something like no or not, just snuck right in there.

You read it quickly, you miss it. Or extreme language, always, never, and you forget to look at that. Or it can be a few more words, such as a phrase. And this is typically at the end, why do they do that? Why put it at the end? Well, in general, we look for the part of the answer choice that is correct.

We're trying to think, we've gotta answer this question correctly. So I'm looking for correctness. And so they'll throw out this perfect, perfectly worded 100% right answer choice. But then at the end of the very end throw in that rotten spot. Now why do I call it a rotten spot? Well if you've ever gone to the supermarket, which I assume you have, you've picked up a fruit.

And what's the first thing that you do? Well, if I'm looking at an orange or a nice shiny apple, I start to turn it in my hand. See, I'm making sure it's shiny to begin with. But I don't just sit there and fixate on the shininess and say, yeah, that's the one, this is my orange, it's going home with me now.

I start twisting it around in my hands, looking at every single part of that orange. And when I see no rotten spot and everything is shiny, then I pick it, but only then. And that's the same logic we wanna bring to the answer choices. Another thing that makes it so diabolical sometimes, again, is the language that's in the part that's correct is so perfectly phrased that we grab onto it.

And interestingly, sometimes the language in actual right answer choice isn't the ideal way of expressing the correct answer. But it's correct enough, and that's why it's the right answer. So again, another trap that the test writers use. Next we have answers a different question. What this means is well, your answer choice is totally correct except for that's not the question is asking.

You misinterpreted the question. So you're reading elsewhere, you're finding supporting evidence and there it is. You match it up with the correct answer choice, but again, you weren't reading in the first place. It's tempting because it's right.

It's right there in the passage. But again, make sure you read every word in the question so you know what is being asked. And then, finally, we have true in the real world. It is a commonsensical statement, a statement that people would generally agree with.

This makes sense. And that's what makes it so tempting, especially if you're rushing, cuz it sounds just right. And it's a great trap for those who don't go back to the passage. And I'm telling you, if there's one strategy you have to use, it's always read the question.

Make sense of the question, and go back to the passage to look for supporting evidence. Otherwise, you will have all of these traps just waiting to ensnare you. And of course, there's the other thing that you're rushing anyhow, and that's what makes it so tricky. Now we're actually going to apply what we've learned.

I'm using a passage we went over in a previous video. And so I encourage you to go back to the video on approaching the CARS passage, because you'll get to read this actual paragraph. But let;s say you did and you don't wanna go back and you just wanna read this now. Go ahead, pause the video, and then unpause it, and we will look at some answer choices.

Okay, I assume you have unpaused it. Let's look at the question. Which of the following does the second paragraph most strongly imply? Let's start with the answer choices. What I want you to do, you can do this on a separate piece of paper just so you're committing something to paper.

And you're remembering what you put. But I want you to say either the answer or rotten spot, true in the real world, word salad, or does not answer the question. It's one of those, or a few of those, and then one will be the answer. And again, pause the video.

And if you want, you can also go back to the part where you have the excerpt of the passage from a few seconds ago. Okay, I assume you've unpaused the video now let's go look at each answer choice one at a time. A, what is considered popular can change over time. Sure, yeah, I mean, they mention this old traditional museum going experience and how it's changing.

So what's considered popular can change over time, right? That makes sense. So is this the answer? Well, if you put true in the real world, then you are correct. Why? Well this is something that is true in the real world, most people, if you went up to them on the street and said, would you agree with a statement?

What is considered popular can change over time, most people would agree with you. But that doesn't necessarily make it the right answer. What's tricky about this, this isn't just some true in the real world statement. It's kind of in the passage, but it's kind of, notice the question does most strongly imply. And a good little parenthetical aside thing here is when you are justifying an answer choice with kind of works, yeah, it seems to kind of.

If you hear that kind of in your head, that should be a blinking red light saying stop, don't pick this answer choice. Cuz kind of is almost always wrong. Okay, next, B, only traditional museums aim to edify their audiences. Well, we go back to the paragraph and we see that it's about traditional museums and how they aim to edify their audiences.

About the story of art and how you are in the company of the great masters. This on'es gotta be it, right? Pick up the orange, turn it around, turn it around to all the, ha! You might be seeing it now but if not, its that word only, that is the rotten spot. Why? Well traditional museums, for the most part, seem to edify their audiences.

And by putting only there you are saying that only they did. That means any museum today doesn't do that. Or any museum, at least, that's not a traditional museum does not edify their audiences. The passage, or rather the paragraph, does not imply that. That's too extreme, that's the rotten spot.

And we get rid of it. C, museumgoers used to demand art that evoked emotion. Well, paragraph talks about museumgoers, obviously. The word demand is in there, art's obviously in there, emotion is in there. All those words are in there. It's a word salad because that's not exactly what the paragraph is most strongly implying that they used to demand art that evoked emotion.

It was that they used to expect to be told a story to put their self aside and be in the presence of the masters. And that isn't really captured by answer choice C. Finally, we have D. Today's museumgoer seeks more than just absorbing a fixed narrative about the past.

Again, unlike that perfectly worded answer choice, when you have the rotten spot, this doesn't necessarily jump out of us as being right. But let's read it again. Today's museumgoer seeks more than just absorbing a fixed narrative about the past. If we go back to the paragraph, there's this part here that says museumgoers demanded to be edified by that story.

But now that story is itself becoming a relic. The story is changing. People are changing. So it's implying that today's museumgoer wants something more than just this old story about the great masters, this fixed narrative about the past. And therefore, D is our answer.

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