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 Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
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Passage Discussion

Paragraph One:

In the first paragraph, the author describes a problem with the traditional approach to this particular field of study (the changing Irish landscape). Documents are scarce, and those that are available are limited in scope.

Paragraph Two:

The author describes an alternative approach, one based on physical evidence (analysis of pollen trapped in sediment) rather than documents, and suggests that this approach is better and more comprehensive than the traditional method.

Paragraph Three:

This paragraph presents a specific example supporting the more general claim made in the previous paragraph. This example shows how pollen analysis helps to correct a previous historical misconception.

Paragraph Four:

A second example is presented that also corrects an error in our historical knowledge of the region.

Paragraph Five:

The final paragraph sets a limitation on the applicability of the new approach, showing that it is not perfect. This paragraph also includes an example, this time of a case where pollen analysis might not prove to be useful.


The only Viewpoint expressed in the passage is that of the author. It is the author's position that pollen analysis is better than reliance on documents, although it has some limitations.

The Structure of the passage is as follows:

Paragraph One: describes a problem with a traditional method of conducting research

Paragraph Two: introduces an alternative to the traditional method, describes in general terms how it works, and expresses the view that it has advantages over the traditional method.

Paragraph Three: presents one supporting example with some details.

Paragraph Four: presents a second supporting example.

Paragraph Five: presents a limitation of the alternative approach, with an example of a limiting case.

The author’s Tone is academic and reasonable, favoring the new approach but aware of its limitations

The author’s Argument is that pollen analysis, though imperfect, is a better and more comprehensive way to research the changing Irish landscape throughout history than is the traditional reliance on documentary evidence, based on examples of cases where pollen analysis has helped to correct the historical record.

The Main Point of the passage is that despite its limitations, pollen analysis is a more useful and comprehensive way to research the changing Irish landscape than is reliance on the incomplete and narrow documentary record.

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