Eliminate Extreme Answer Choices



TOEFL never likes to get too extreme.


I don't like extreme weather! I don't enjoy it when the weather is freezing cold or when it is blazing hot. I like a gentle breeze, blue skies and warm sunshine. TOEFL does too. So, when you choose your answer, it is a good idea to eliminate EXTREME answer choices.


What are EXTREME choices?

EXTREME choices are:


1. answer choices that contain very LIMITING words such as: NEVER, ALWAYS, the BEST, the WORST, MUST, ONLY or ALL.


2. answer choices that exaggerate. These statements can make something seem bigger, more dramatic or more problematic than it actually is. It makes too much of something or it is over-the-top.


Let’s look at some examples.


Example 1.

Which sentence is more EXTREME?

a. The boy and his friends walked to the park.

b. The boy and all his friends walked to the park.


“B” is more EXTREME! It has the word ‘all.’ Be suspicious of an answer choice like this. Does the text or listening actually say ‘all’? If it doesn’t, do not select it. Eliminate “b.”


Example 2.

Which sentence is more EXTREME?

a. Because she did not hold the highly credentialed position, she hesitated before speaking.

b. Because she was inferior to the others, she hesitated before speaking.


“B” is more EXTREME! Her being inferior is a lot more extreme than her not holding a highly credentialed position. On TOEFL, you would most likely eliminate “b”unless the reading or listening passage uses that extreme language.


Example 3.

Which sentence is more EXTREME?

a. She drinks coffee daily.

b. She always drinks coffee.


“B” is more EXTREME because of the word “always.” The word always gives the impression that she is constantly drinking coffee and nothing else. However, in answer “a” she drinks coffee at least once a day. Since “b” is more EXTREME and if the reading or listening passage doesn't directly state this, you would eliminate this choice.


Example 4.

Which sentence is more EXTREME?

a. Vegetarian and vegan lifestyles will solve environmental problems.

b. Vegetarian and vegan lifestyles will alleviate environmental problems.


“A” is more extreme. To solve the problem is to find a cure and completely get rid of the problem. To alleviate the problem is to lessen it. So, does the text state that it will be a complete solution? Or will it help solve the problem? On TOEFL, you will probably eliminate answer choice “a”unless the reading or listening passage directly states that these lifestyles solve the problem.

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