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Application Questions

Application questions differ from extension questions only in degree. Extension questions ask you to apply what you have learned from the passage to derive new information about the same subject, whereas application questions go one step further, asking you to apply what you have learned from the passage to a different or hypothetical situation.

The following are common application questions:
  • Which one of the following is the most likely source of the passage?
  • Which one of the following actions would be most likely to have the same effect as the author’s actions?
You may be asked to complete a thought for the author:
  • The author would most likely agree with which one of the following statements?
  • Which one of the following sentences would the author be most likely to use to complete the last paragraph of the passage?
To answer an application question, take the author’s perspective. Ask yourself: what am I arguing for? what might make my argument stronger? what might make it weaker?
Because these questions go well beyond the passage, they tend to be the most difficult. Furthermore, because application questions and extension questions require a deeper understanding of the passage, skimming (or worse yet, speed-reading) the passage is ineffective. Skimming may give you the main idea and structure of the passage, but it is unlikely to give you the subtleties of the author’s attitude.

Based on the information in the passage, it can be inferred that which one of the following would most logically begin a paragraph immediately following the passage?

  1. Because of the inquisitorial system’s thoroughness in conducting its pretrial investigation, it can be concluded that a defendant who is innocent would prefer to be tried under the inquisitorial system, whereas a defendant who is guilty would prefer to be tried under the adversarial system.
  2. As the preceding analysis shows, the legal system is in a constant state of flux. For now the inquisitorial system is ascendant, but it will probably be soon replaced by another system.
  3. The accusatorial system begins where the inquisitorial system ends. So it is three steps removed from the system of private vengeance, and therefore historically superior to it.
  4. Because in the inquisitorial system the judge must take an active role in the conduct of the trial, his competency and expertise have become critical.
  5. The criminal justice system has evolved to the point that it no longer seems to be deriva­tive of the system of private vengeance. Modern systems of criminal justice empower all of society with the right to instigate a legal action, and the need for vengeance is satisfied through a surrogate—the public prosecutor.

The author has rather thoroughly presented his position, so the next paragraph would be a natural place for him to summarize it. The passage compares and contrasts two systems of criminal justice, implying that the inquisitorial system is superior. We expect the concluding paragraph to sum up this position. Now all legal theory aside, the system of justice under which an innocent person would choose to be judged would, as a practical matter, pretty much sum up the situation. Hence the answer is (A).

Application: (Short Passage)

The idea of stuff expresses no more than the experience of coming to a limit at which our senses or our instruments are not fine enough to make out the pattern.

Something of the same kind happens when the scientist investigates any unit or pattern so distinct to the naked eye that it has been considered a separate entity. He finds that the more carefully he observes and describes it, the more he is also describing the environment in which it moves and other patterns to which it seems inseparably related. As Teilhard de Chardin has so well expressed it, the isolation of individual, atomic patterns “is merely an intellectual dodge.”

...Although the ancient cultures of Asia never attained the rigorously exact physical knowledge of the modern West, they grasped in principle many things which are only now occurring to us. Hinduism and Buddhism are impossible to classify as religions, philosophies, sciences, or even mythologies, or again as amalgamations of all four, because departmentalization is foreign to them even in so basic a form as the separation of the spiritual and the material.... Buddhism ... is not a culture but a critique of culture, an enduring nonviolent revolution, or “loyal opposition,” to the culture with which it is involved. This gives these ways of liberation something in common with psychotherapy beyond the interest in changing states of consciousness. For the task of the psychotherapist is to bring about a reconciliation between individual feeling and social norms without, however, sacrificing the integrity of the individual. He tries to help the individual to be himself and to go it alone in the world (of social convention) but not of the world.

From Alan W. Watts, Psychotherapy East and West, © 1961 by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House.



What does the passage suggest about the theme of the book from which it is excerpted?

  1. The book attempts to understand psychotherapy in the context of different and changing systems of thought.
  2. The book argues that psychotherapy unites elements of an exact science with elements of eastern philosophy.
  3. The book describes the origins of psychotherapy around the world.
  4. The book compares psychotherapy in the West and in the East.
(A): Yes, this is the most accurate inference from the passage. The passage discusses how the more carefully a scientist views and describes something the more he describes the environment in which it moves, and the passage traces similarities between psychotherapy and Eastern systems of (evolving) thought.
(B): No, this is too narrow an interpretation of what the whole book would be doing.
(C): No, too vague; the passage is too philosophical to be merely a history.
(D): No, also too vague, meant to entrap those of you who relied on the title without thinking through the passage.

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