Wading Through Verbiage
To become skilled at Text Completions, you need to learn vocabulary, become comfortable with complex sentence structure, and apply helpful techniques, such as trying to come up with your own word.
If you follow the above, you will likely get to the more difficult section, assuming you do well on the Reading Comp. part of the test. But when you get to the most difficult verbal section, the GRE is going to throw its toughest stuff at you. Specifically, one of the Text Completions will likely have a question that is so difficult as to completely confound you on the first read. You might just want to skip the question and come back to it lest it becomes a time-suck.
But if you have enough time, and you are not so ready to capitulate to a hectoring triple-blank, here are some ways to attack it.
1) Hover, don’t plod
Some of these big Text Completions can be much like quicksand: if you get caught up in a long-winded phrase or two, you are likely to sink. Your ability to gather the overall meaning of the paragraph will be impaired.
By hovering, I don’t necessarily mean skimming. You do want to pay careful attention to each word. But when you hit a snag, don’t become entangled. Keep reading; look for the “big picture”.
2) Derive general meaning
By not becoming entangled, you’ll be able to more readily pick up on the “big picture” of the paragraph. Doing so is essential to helping you fill in the blanks.
3) Fill in the easiest blank first
Which blank is the easiest? The one in which a word comes to mind. This blank often isn’t the first blank. Indeed, you only get a sense of the big picture once you’ve read the entire paragraph.
4) Look for coherent meaning
The final step is to make sure that the answers you select all make sense. One way to test this is to read the entire paragraph with your selected answers. Does the paragraph make sense? If so, you probably have the right answers. If something seems a little bit off, check again.
A quick warning: Only attempt this question if you are looking to score in the mid-to-high 160’s on Verbal. Do not try to grapple with the meaning of this question; your time will be better spent elsewhere.
Should philosophy be (i) __________ the humanities, unceremoniously dropped alongside the English department, in which the aesthetic reigns triumphant and the analytical usually surfaces as little more than a tic in a novel’s more cerebral characters? Apparently, this rhetorical question has been duly answered by the fact that philosophy is (ii) __________ the humanities and not accorded a status commensurate with its logical nature—argumentative validity, on the other hand, has (iii) _________ on whether we appreciate literature.
(A) beholden to
(B) relegated to
(C) grouped with
(D) subsumed under
(E) unrelated to
(F) superior to
(G) a subtle effect
(H) little bearing
(I) a direct relevance
Take a stab at the question. Answers are welcome, but if you are up to it, explanations are very welcome! 🙂 Then, when you’re ready: Explanation to Advanced Triple Blank Text Completion.