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GRE Text Completion: Practice Question of the Week #32 Answer

Here are the answers and explanations to yesterday’s practice question, thank you for sending in your comments!

All during the financial advisor’s presentation on investment options, Laura repeatedly tried, to no avail, to (i)_________ Donovan of his positive impression of the speaker’s motives. Donovan, however, was (ii)______________ in his convictions.

Blank (i) Blank (ii)
A. disabuse D. ambivalent
B. advise E. stalwart
C. convince F. steadfast


(A) disabuse and (F) steadfast are the credited responses.

We know that Laura was unsuccessful (she tried, to no avail) in her attempts to affect
Donovan’s impression. So Blank (i) will describe what Laura was trying to do, and Blank (ii)
will describe Donovan’s unchanging convictions (strong beliefs).


Blank (i)

(A) disabuse (persuade someone that their belief is mistaken) best fits the context
here: Laura can’t convince Donovan that his impression of the speaker’s motives is

(B) advise is too neutral here. Laura isn’t just giving advice; she’s specifically trying
to change Donovan’s mind (remember that to pick advise, you would need to rule out
disabuse, which is a perfect fit for this context).

(C) Donovan is already convinced of his impression of the speaker’s motives; Laura
is trying to unconvince him.


Blank (ii)

(F) steadfast (committed) is the best choice. The words to no avail and however let
us know that Donovan isn’t going to change his mind.

(D) someone who is ambivalent has mixed feelings, but Donovan has no doubt about
his opinion here.

(E) stalwart is a good distractor because it denotes strength, and Donovan is
strongly committed to his opinion of the speaker. But stalwart also has intrinsically
positive connotations involving vigor and even valor, traits beyond the scope of this


Video Explanation:

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2 Responses to GRE Text Completion: Practice Question of the Week #32 Answer

  1. jones March 17, 2013 at 2:02 am #

    hi chris,

    i got stalwart and steadfast as synonyms in the dictionary. what do you think???

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele March 20, 2013 at 9:32 am #

      Hi Jones,

      Interesting question!

      The two words do have a little bit of overlap. Both can be used to describe a person who is loyal to an organization, i.e. steadfast Republican/stalwart Republican. In this sense the words mean loyal.

      Of course this overlap is tiny and in general the words have slightly different meanings and are employed in different contexts.

      Stalwart connotes something physical imposing and tough. Like frontline of the New England Patriots. There is still a lingering connotation of loyalty to the group. For instance, I wouldn’t describe a great heavyweight boxer, say George Foreman, stalwart, in the sense that he is a lone fighter. Again, this is a very fine distinction that I’m sure is subverted most the time in modern usage.

      Steadfast is a little more limited in what it applies to. Being resolute in one’s position is the common use. Interestingly, steadfast can also be used to describe abstract nouns, such as loyalty, as in steadfast opposition.

      Hope that helps clear things up :).

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