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GRE Text Completion

text completion

A text completion is one of the new question types on the GRE. It is similar to a sentence completion, but has a few important differences. For one, there can be multiple sentences in a text completion. In fact, the question may sometimes run on for an entire paragraph. That’s because some have as many as three blanks.

The other important difference is that each blank only has three possible answer choices, but you have to get all three correct in order to get the question correct (that amounts to a 1 in 27 chance in guessing).

Now that we know our enemy, below are five important strategies you should follow if you want to do well on text completions:

1. Don’t Dive In

Read the entire stem first. The reason for this strategy is that the  first blank is often ambiguous, unless you have read the entire paragraph.

2. Breaking Down the Text Completion

Text Completions are sometimes a paragraph long, so it is easy to get lost in them. A great strategy is trying to understand the big picture. Breaking down the paragraph in your own words (paraphrasing the paragraph) will help you get a grasp on what the sentences are talking about. Then you’re ready for step #3.

3. Use Your Own Words

Here, we’re on familiar footing. Much like the sentence completions and the sentence equivalence questions, we want to use the strategy of putting in our own word(s) in the blank or blanks. To do so, you must always justify your answers not just on the context, but some of the specific words or phrases in the sentence itself. I’ve commonly referred to these word(s) as the clue.

4. The Second (or Third) Blank First

Because the first blank is difficult to deal with, first try finding a word for the second or third blank. Then work your way backwards to the first blank. The caveat—this technique only applies if you can come up with a word for the second or third blank. If you can’t, then work with the first blank.

5. Use the Entire Text Completion as Context

When you’ve finally chosen your two/three answers, plug them back into the blanks. Does the completed sentence make sense with how you earlier paraphrased it?


To read more about strategies for text completions, and to do a few practice questions, you should read all of our text completion blog posts.


About the Author

Margarette Jung graduated from UC Berkeley as a double major in English Literature and Linguistics. She has been teaching for large companies and tutoring privately for more than 5 years. Follow her on Google+!

62 Responses to GRE Text Completion

  1. lawal August 11, 2012 at 2:34 am #

    hi Chris,
    I have a suggestion on improving magoosh blog.I think it would be extremelty helpful if from time to time you can take extracts of really complex sentence structures from notable works and try to break it down. The strategy of coming up with “own word” will only work when you get the big picture of the sentence otherwise we will still remain lost in that forest.

    for example, i was perusing an article from the New york times book review – “Dead Stars”
    Basically it talks about the authors aversion for hollywood contents. This just an extract

    “Aside from a few bravura scenes here and there, this self-conscious, tricked-up volume consists largely of gruesome anecdotes- which feel contrived for maximum gross-out value-desultorily strung together like ugly beads on a filthy string”
    What do you think of this idea?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

      First off, I love that sentence :). It’s reminiscent of the Jersey Shore, or just about anything that has graced our TV screens under the suspect moniker “Reality TV.”

      Secondly, that is a great idea! Parsing meaning from twisted syntax, or, to use your metaphor, spotting the forest amidst a tangle of trees is important.

      For this behemoth let’s give it a shot:

      “Aside from a few bravura scenes here and there, this self-conscious, tricked-up volume consists largely of gruesome anecdotes…”

      A few scenes are exciting and daring. Most of the scene are forced and unnatural, consisting of stories that are notable for their shock value (I imagine scenes from Borat).

      The sentence then employs a metaphor. So a bunch of disgusting and random scenes meant to shock is like having a necklace full of ugly stones.

      Hopefully that helps!

  2. lawal July 30, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    @ SATISH I feel the Key to TC’s and SE’s is unlocking the sentences and fully understanding the sentence. Just like Chris has always said ‘Break down the sentence’ replace every difficult words with your own word. I agree this is really challenging because even after doing that the sentence can still remain recondite especially the 3 blanks TC’s i doubt if i have ever gotten any 1 right. The sentences can be outrightly vague sometimes that even after seeing the answer and explanations it still seems confusing and contestable.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris August 1, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

      You are right! On the really difficult ones even once you’ve seen the explanation it doesn’t really help much. Only when you truly unlock the byzantine sentence can you get closer to TC enlightenment :).

      • satish August 4, 2012 at 2:06 am #

        Thanks Iawal and Chris

        Will look into it.

  3. satish July 30, 2012 at 1:10 am #

    Hi Chris

    I have crammed up the word smart wordlist provided by PR but I find it difficult when in comes to contextually understanding something. Also recently I took a practice test for SE and I couldnt just understand what the sentences try to convey. Moreover in, there are many articles employing GRE words which I am unable to understand. So are there any resources where I can get both the tortuous article and its limpid version for better understanding? Or can you suggest me something regarding this?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

      Hi Satish,

      Learning to understand difficult words in context is much like learning a new language. It is very tough going at first. But with enough grit – meaning a trusty dictionary and – the meaning of sentences should start to emerge. You may want to read at a slightly easier level than Guardian, to start out., are good sources.

      Keep at it – and just remember nobody was born with an amazing vocabulary :).

  4. Shubham July 24, 2012 at 5:39 am #

    Hello Chris,

    I have a doubt in text completion.

    Once the formerly nomadic people developed farming and settled in a valley rich in natural resources and protected from invaders, they were able to live a (i) _______ existence for hundreds of years, a period which was (ii) _______only in the twentieth century when contact with Westerners destroyed that way of life.

    Blank (i)

    Blank (ii)

    I marked halcyon and hindered but the answer is halcyon and scotched. I just checked that scotched also means hindered.

    Source: MGRE

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 26, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      Hi Shubham,

      ‘Scotched’ means to put in an end to; to snuff out. ‘Hinder’ only means to hold back. The words are different in their intensity.

  5. lawal July 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    sorry,,the answer choices are not well aligned

    blank 1 Blank ii Blank iii

    (i) Presumed verifiable Corroborating Novel

    (ii) Carefully scrutinized Advancing Bogus

    (iii) Considered capricious Debunking Obsolete

  6. lawal July 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Statements presented as fact in a patent application are (i)_________ unless a

    good reason for doubt is found. The invention has only to be deemed “more likely

    than not” to work in order to receive initial approval. And, ALTHOUGH thousands of

    patents are challenged in court for other reasons, NO incentive exists for anyone

    to expend effort (ii)_________ the science of an erroneous patent. For this reason

    the endless stream of (iii)_________ devices will continue to yield occasional


    Blank (i) Blank (ii) Blank(iii)
    A presumed D corroborating 
    G novel

    B carefully  E advancing H bogus
    C considered  F debunking  I obsolete

    For this question from set 3 (MEDIUM) OG, the first sentence is clear enough so the first blank is easy.

    For the second blank can “ALTHOUGH” and “NO” act like a double shift sentence since “challenge” is the “clue word” so we still end up with “debunking”.

    The third blank is pretty confusing because i can’t locate anywhere in the sentence that says any thing about “bogus”. i actually thought “novel’ since they are talking of inventions..???????

    Am using magoosh videos to check my mistakes.
    By the way these clues on the 3 blanks can be really subtle and to pick them can be quite daunting. I realized that the TC’s and SE’s dont even test so much vocabulary but its more of fully understanding the sentences which can really be convouluted…wow!!!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 25, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      Indeed you are correct regarding the intricacy of the text completions themselves as the source of difficulty.

      That’s great you are watching Magoosh videos – it seems like you are definitely applying the lessons.

      For the third blank make sure not to pick a word that you generally associate with a certain field: novelty = inventions. The idea in this case is that there is nobody to verify the validity of a patent. Therefore, it inevitable that many bogus patents are accepted as valid.

      BTW I have an explanation of this video on youtube. Enter in the number of the question in the ETS official guide, along with the section the question is in. Let me know if that works!

  7. Hashmeet July 16, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Hi Chris!

    I was recently going through some text completion questions from the old format(yes, I have gobbled up all the questions on Magoosh :D) and came across the following question:

    Q. To an untrained eye the horse appeared to be very ____, whereas in actuality it was _____ and unmanageable.



    Clearly, B and C seem to be the only contenders ( in my opinion ) as per the question’s structure.

    The answer as per text book is B, pretty straightforward, until I switch on my prickly brain which thinks that C relates better.

    The reason being, the phrase “untrained eye” suggests that the true character of the horse is only decipherable by someone who can see what lies beneath it’s perceivable character. Hence, these two qualities should be somewhat similar, and on that basis it seems that indolent and unmanageable relate as well!

    Am I thinking too much? or does the question seem ambiguous to you as well.



    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

      Hello Hashmeet,

      Yes, I think you are thinking a little too deeply :), even philosophically. The interpretation of the GRE questions are usually much more straightforward then that.

      BTW did you know that we just released over hundred Text Completions? That should give you enough practice for now :).

  8. Aman July 15, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Hey Chris,
    Few questions on TC

    1) Most spacecraft are still at little risk of collision
    with space debris during their operational
    lifetimes, but given the numbers of new satellites
    launched each year, the orbital environment in the
    future is likely to be less _______.
    A crowded
    B invulnerable
    C protected
    D polluted
    E benign

    A newly published, laudatory biography of George Bernard Shaw fails,
    like others before it, to capture the essence of his personality: the more he
    is (i)_________ , the more his true self seems to (ii)_________ .

    A discussed
    B disparaged
    C disregarded
    D disappear
    E emerge
    F coalesce

    These are from new gre practice book .There are few more due u hve their video solution@youtube?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris July 17, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

      Hi Aman,

      The solution will be up on youtube soon :).

      For now, #1 shows that the orbital environment is pretty safe, thus it will become less safe (or benign in the future). (C) protected is not supported by any words. What is doing the protecting?

      For now #2, the biography does not capture Shaw’s true personality. Thus his true self seems to (D) disappear. (A) discussed makes sense in the context of a biography.

  9. simer kaur June 30, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    hey chris m simer from india i hav just started my gre preparation and really my english z nt dat gud so please help me out ?????? and intro me the new gre syllabus please ????????

  10. sayeed June 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    hi Chris,

    thanks for your feedback. I will follow your suggestions.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 22, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

      You are welcome!

  11. swe June 19, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    hi chris,

    i’m planning to take gre test after a month. i’m weak in vocab. i’m facing difficulty in the sentence equivalence and text completions..
    Is there any way to learn and memorize the words.?

    pls help me in this regard.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

      Hi Swe,

      Our excellent vocab Ebook will help you get started. As you go through the book, you’ll not only learn important learning devices but you’ll also gain an appreciation for words (some in the Magoosh community often are surprised to learn how fun vocab can be :)).

  12. sayeed June 9, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    I am facing difficulties with hard (3 banks ) TC questions. In most cases I successfully detect 2 blanks but I cannot detect the right option for middle blank (in most cases ). Could you please provide me any insight to overcome this limitation?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

      Hi Sayeed,

      Hmmm…I’ve never heard of this exact problem before. One method you can try is working backwards from the third blank. Also, when dealing with the second blank, plug in the words (once you’ve thought the blank over a little) to see which one creates coherent meaning, assuming the 1st and 3rd blank are correct.

      BTW, I don’t know if you have a Magoosh Premium account, but very soon we are releasing a batch of 3-blank TCs that are challenging (and will allow you plenty of practice :).

      • sayeed June 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

        Hi Chris,

        Yes, I have Magoosh Premium account. I am very happy to hear that I am getting more questions to practice. And I will do in accord with your advice.

        Anyway, my predicted scores based on the performance of the first fifty questions of each section were ( without any rigorous practice and I do not start your video tutorial yet) -

        Math- 152-157

        Verbal- 151-156

        Would you please tell me what should be my target score?

        • Chris Lele
          Chris June 20, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

          Hi Sayeed,

          With hard work, it seems that a 160 in both sections is within your grasp. Continue working on questions in the product, as well as questions you find in the blog. Make sure to take the Powerprep exam to see how you rate as well.

          And keep me updated!

  13. Ajay June 4, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Hi Chris ,

    I have just started preparing for GRE . I m religiously following your posts here .Thanks for all the post :)
    Had a couple of questions from ETS (and these are Easy :( )

    1. In stark contrast to his later _______,Simpson was largely ___________ politics during his college days ,despite the fact that the campus he attended was rife with political activity.

    Blank 1 : Activism ,Apathy , affability.
    Blank 2 : devoted to ,indifferent, shaped by

    I chose devoted to and Apathy as both are contrasting. The Answer is Activism and Indifferent

    2. It is __________ that so many portrait paintings hang in art Museums , since the subject matter seems to dictate a status closer to pictures in the family photograph album rather than to high art. But perhaps it is the artistic skill with which the portraits are painted that __________ their presence in Art museums.

    Blank 1 : a. surprising b.understandable c. irrelevant
    Blank 2 : c. challenges d.justifies e.changes

    Here got the second blank right as understood the second sentence but not the first one.
    I marked understandable and justified
    Ans : Surprising and justified.

    could you shed a light on both the questions?

    Also you mentioned that the High frequency words are not same anymore in the revised GRE .Could you suggest any book that has this updated ?

    Thanks a lot for your time !
    Appreciate it . :)


    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

      Hi Ajay,

      Both these questions are from the New GRE Official Guide. The good news is I have recorded the answers to every single one of these questions on youtube. Go to youtube and in the search box enter in the section where you found the question, and the question number, as well as Official Guide. That should take you to both of these questions. Let me know if that works :).

    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

      As for the lists, check out our vocabulary Ebook for high frequency words:

      • Ajay June 5, 2012 at 7:07 am #

        Thanks a lot for that ! :)

        But these High frequency words aren’t enough rite ? I’ve read your other posts as well where you’ve recommended 2 books :
        1. Word smart
        2. 1100 words you should know .
        Do these contain words which are used in GRE or are these general words ? Sorry if the question sounds stupid but i am really scared looking at the Huge Lists of Barron’s 3500 words .So searching for other better options.
        so basically m looking for a definite order like:
        1.high frequency words 2.1100 words from barron’s 3.if time permits will start with the big list.



        • Chris Lele
          Chris June 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

          Of course, you are right: Magoosh just has a few of the words you can expect to see on the GRE (and not all of them are high-frequency–I usually reference the ones that are).

          For ready-made flashcards of essential words just head to Barron’s, Kaplan’s, even the Word smart words are all flashcard form. Hope that helps!

  14. jones June 4, 2012 at 7:42 am #

    hey chris, recently i faced problem in this question.

    That the President manages the economy is an assumption (i) the prevailing wisdom that dominates electoral politics in the United States. As a result, presidential elections have become referenda on the business
    cycle, whose fortuitous turnings are (ii) the President. Presidents are properly accountable for their executive and legislative performance, and certainly their actions may have profound effects on the economy. But these effects are (iii) . Unfortunately, modern political campaigns are fought on the untenable premise that
    Presidents can deliberately produce precise economic results.

    Blank (i)
    A peripheral to
    B central to
    C at odds with
    Blank (ii)
    D justifiably personified in
    E erroneously attributed to
    F occasionally
    associated with
    Blank (iii)
    G usually long-lasting
    H regrettably unnoticeable
    I largely unpredictable

    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

      Hi Jones,

      I’ve recorded the answers to all these questions on video. Just go to youtube and in the search box enter New GRE the question and section # and this should pop up. Let me know if you have any questions!

  15. AD June 3, 2012 at 3:44 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Could you please help me through these questions?

    1. There has been a large amount of (i)______ and lack of (ii)______ in the description of such categories as ethnic, and especially racial groups.

    (A) bias
    (B) agreement
    (C) disagreement
    (D) violence
    (E) indoctrination

    (A) prejudice
    (B) harmony
    (C) lawfulness
    (D) consensus
    (E) malice

    2. When finishing an essay, do not end with a(n) (i)_____ for not having said anything, or with a(n) (ii)_____ statement about the unfairly small time period.

    (A) flourish
    (B) apology
    (C) ellipsis
    (D) smirk
    (E) excuse

    (A) unwarranted
    (B) analogical
    (C) silly
    (D) political
    (E) indignant


    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

      Hi AD,

      Not to nip these in the bud :)…but where did you find them? These aren’t really GRE prep questions (kind of sounds like my SAT class put them together :). When prepping for the GRE make sure you use halfway decent material. If you are not sure what constitutes “good” material, check out my book reviews:

      • AD June 4, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

        Hi Chris,

        I’m using the standard books, Kaplan Premier and Manhattan GRE Prep but found these questions online and got them wrong at the first go.
        Now, I have also taken the Magoosh course and it’s great! :)

        • Chris Lele
          Chris June 5, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

          Hi AD,

          Yeah, you have to be wary of some of the online sources. Otherwise keep to the recommended ones and you should be fine :).

  16. Aman May 3, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Defunct is a more strong word – not coming back which is supports both.the words stagnation and EVENTUALLY CANCELLATION moribund is someone who is in the verge of getting into this state however i still think these are two close calls
    Whats your say Chris?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris May 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Great answer, Aman :).

      You looked for the clue, ‘eventual cancellation’ and backed up the answer, defunct. So, yes, we need a stronger word (dead) vs. the weaker moribund (almost dead).

      • Muhammad May 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

        Thanks Aman.

        It’s from the MGRE easiest section. I don’t feel like doing their harder question because they have only stuffed in arcane vocabulary.

  17. Muhammad May 2, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    Hey Chris,

    Can you please help me through this text Completion.

    Although it appeared to be________ after its stagnation and eventual cancellation in 1989, Doctor Who returned to BBC in 2005 to become the longest-running science-fiction show in history..

    The credited response is Defunct but among the choices there’s Moribund, so why not moribund?
    As the show was stagnated, it was in the process of dying so moribund makes sense
    to me



    • Chris Lele
      Chris May 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

      Check out Aman’s explanation below :).

      Also, what is the source of the question?

  18. Shubham April 18, 2012 at 8:53 pm #


    Please help in solving following problem.

    It cannot be denied that without creative reasoning it would not have been possible to (i)____ of classical physics. Yet classical physics has no contribution to make to the understanding of (ii)_____. This kind of (iii)____ is surprisingly common in logic as well as in life.

    Blank (i)
    A. dispute the value
    B. lay the foundations
    C. understand the basics

    Blank (ii)
    D. creative reasoning
    E. other sciences
    F. the arts

    Blank (iii)
    G. circular reasoning
    H. inflexibility
    I. symmetry

    I marked CDH as the answer, which is wrong.

    Shubham Goel

    • Chris Lele
      Chris April 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

      Hi Shubham,

      Frankly, this question is written rather awkwardly, and wouldn’t make the final (indeed the penultimate) cut. The logic behind the question itself is suspect, and even some of the correct answer choices are suspect.

      I’m guessing the correct answer is CFH.

      The reasoning with ‘F’ is you don’t want to repeat ‘creative reasoning’ and you want a broader application to apply to arts. This is iffy reasoning – and one you would never employ on an actual question.

      (H) inflexibility is off stylistically. The word asymmetry would have been perfect.

      The thought behind the sentence, classic physics is informed by creating reasoning, but the creative endeavors (arts) have not been informed by classic physics makes for a potentially provocative text completion. In this question, the execution leaves something to be desired :).

  19. aadya April 4, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Hi Chris,

    First of all thank you for your wonderful blog. I have noticed positive change in my verbal score after picking tips from your blogs. However, I am unable to identify key words in few of TC questions – how do I approach these Q’s ? For example :

    “During periods of social and cultural stability, many art academies are so firmly controlled by ______________ that all real creative work must be done by the ___________.

    a. dogmatists…….disenfranchised
    b. Managers………… reactioners
    c. reformers ………….dissatisfied
    d. Imposters …………….academicians
    e. specialists ……………elite

    Source : GRE bigbook

    Thank you for your time.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris April 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

      Hi Aadya,

      This is a tough question, one in which you sort of have to plug the answer choices back into the question to see which ones fit. Of course, the judgment of which ones fit should be informed, so you do need to notice the following keywords: stability, firmly controlled… all real creative work…

      We can see that the first blank aren’t the people who do creative work. (A) dogmatists is the best fit. Then you can plug ‘disenfranchised’ back in the blank. Why does ‘disenfranchised’ work? Because it describes those who are not part of the academy. They are outsiders.

      Using the traditional method of coming up with one’s own word would in all likelihood not yield ‘disenfranchised.’ With the difficult questions, you have to be a bit flexible in your approach.

      Hope that helps :).

      • aadya April 5, 2012 at 6:46 am #

        Thanks Chris,

        I will try this strategy and report back with my progress :)


        • Chris Lele
          Chris April 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

          Great, looking forward to hear how it goes :).

  20. Madan April 1, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Hi Chris,
    I took the ETS mock test yesterday.I got a good score in Quantitative section.But in Verbal i scored very less.I feel very demotivated because the verbal score.First of all i do not have much time to finish all the questions and secondly i found that i need to practice lot of “Text completion” and “Sentence equivalence”.I also find difficult to comprehend the question quickly.Can you please suggest some book to take lot of practice questions for TC,SE and also tips to complete all the verbal questions in time?.Your help is highly valued and appreciated.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris April 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

      Hi Madan,

      First off, use the blog to its full extent – meaning, click on the bar at the very top of the magoosh homepage, where it says ‘verbal.’ This will take you to myriad posts I’ve written on TC and SE that will help you break down this question type and make you faster and more accurate.

      If you want even more practice, you can just try out the Magoosh product:

      Let me know if the TC and SE blog posts are helpful – I’ll be standing by to answer any questions you have :).

  21. Aman March 31, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Hey Chris,
    Found these text completion questions.Can you explain them for me What are the clues in these , i mean how would you go about these sentence specially when you did’nt knew the meaning of right words.

    Q) Old world cures typically had a pungent smell or unpleasant taste which served to emphasize their potency. An odorless, tasteless __________________ could not be relied upon to effect a cure.


    Q)Two tomes by the French nuclear physicist are already required reading for graduate students; the latest work will complete Dr. Alain Boussard’s _______________ on atomic energy.


    Q)He always seemed to speak with a(n) (i)_____________ tone that made even the most (ii)_____________ conversations sound somewhat (iii)_____________.

    (i) affected, berating, conspiratorial
    (ii) engaging, innocuous, secretive
    (iii) alluring, incomprehensible, illicit

    Please help…
    Thanks and have a great weekend

    • Chris Lele
      Chris April 2, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

      Hi Aman,

      Besides the last question, I would say the other two are just poorly written questions that don’t reflect what you’ll see test day :). Can I ask where you found these questions?

      Nonetheless for the first one, unpleasant taste, is a clue as is old world cures. That is enough to solve the question. You don’t need to know the word pungent to be able to answer the question.

      The second question the clue is ‘two’ – you don’t have to know the words ‘tomes.’ You just have to know that his new book will be his third in the series (this question is esp. silly and unreflective – where did you find these questions).

      Anyhow, the takeaway is you do not have to know every word in the sentence. Work around the words you don’t know based on the ones you do know.

      (I’m a little confused with the third one, since I’m sure you know all the words in the sentence).

      • Aman April 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

        This was exactly what i responded during the mock but wanted one espouse for my point of view : d
        These are from score 800 by mgre n The explanations given are also not justifiable enough as per GRE is concerned

        Well as per the last.question.the answer is

        (i) conspiratorial (ii) innocuous (iii) illicit

        And my choice was berating engaging and incomprehensible

        This is its explanation(i dnt knw how did one found the tone and innocent as the idea)

        This sentence must be taken as a whole. The idea of the sentence is that even innocent conversations appeared to be not so innocent because of his tone. The only words that logically fit together to convey this message are the 3 correct ones: conspiratorial (secretive planning), innocuous (harmless) and illicit (immoral). It is the middle blank that is the best one to address first. While “engaging” could fit blank 2 and it could be supported by blank 3’s “alluring,” there is no appropriate word in Blank (1) to logically finish the thought. Similarly, no other set of three words could go together to complete the thought that is conveyed in the sentence.

        • Aman April 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

          Hey Chris there’ s one.more thing
          Questions like these where u need to put in options and try to find an appropriate match are very time consuming and prone to error ….
          Any easy methods for these i am sure u would have one….


          • Chris Lele
            Chris April 3, 2012 at 11:03 am #

            These very vague question types unfortunately require one to work backwards from the answers. I think as you get more practice with them (they are a rare form of TC) you will get more adept.

        • Chris Lele
          Chris April 3, 2012 at 11:02 am #

          I think the takeaway here Aman is not to use these suspect sources, as questions (and explanations) such as these only serve to frustrate and eat up time.

          That said, only the given answers provide a coherent meaning.

  22. Devandiran November 21, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Thanks Chris.. Its a practice set from

  23. devandiran November 17, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

    Hi, Chris.. kindly explain this sc

    The intellectual flexibility inherent in a multicultural nation has been (i)____ in classrooms where emphasis on British-American literature has not reflected the cultural (ii)____ of our country.

    Blank (i)
    A. inculcated
    B. encouraged
    C. stifled

    Blank (ii)
    D. unanimity
    E. diversity
    F. aspirations

    The answers are given as option c and option e. Can you explain to me the meaning of the question and then the approach?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris November 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

      Quick question – this looks vaguely familiar – what’s the source?

      The way I would approach this question is to notice the clues: “intellectual flexibility” and “not reflected.” Therefore I know that what is going on in the classroom is not consistent with our cultural values. So the intellectual flexibility has been compromised/suppressed. Stifled (C) works best.

      This stifling does not reflect our “multicultural nation” or cultural diversity (E).

  24. Cy November 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    Chris, I hope you can answer this question quickly because I am taking the test soon! With text completion, how do you differentiate the answer choices between using outside knowledge and not using outside knowledge? I already know that you have to eliminate outside knowledge at ALL costs, but sometimes, the sentence is too vague or incomplete in of itself to make the correct choices without putting in your own world view. For example, this question was on the GRE test prep II software:

    “With the 1985 discovery of an ozone hole over Antarctica, an international ban on the production of chlorofluorocarbons- implicated in causing the ozone hole-began to appear___________, especially since chemical companies’ opposition to such a ban had weakened.”

    A) Imprudent
    B) fortuitous
    C) premature
    D) Imminent
    E) unlikely

    The correct answer is of course D, because of the second phrase, I chose E and it was wrong.

    The first word I actually came up with is something similar to imminent, such as “manifest,” then I changed it to “coming” as I read the sentence before the comma after the blank, but when I read the rest of the sentence, it was saying the companies opposition was waning. How can I tell what the companies position is, if the phrase after the comma is supposedly a clue? (or distraction, not sure which). Today’s world, companies would obviously oppose a ban at all costs even if it was waning, and certainly if the ban was more imminent, in today’s world, we’ll see even more companies spend more money in opposition of the bill. So in today’s world, it is unlikely that the company’s opposition would weaken especially if a bill looks like it was imminent.

    Of course, if the chemical ban was “unlikely,” then it would make sense for companies’ opposition to weaken.

    Nowhere in the sentence does it give me a clue that it is unequivocally “imminent.” Perhaps the real answer, if it were boiled down to 2 possible answers in GRE’s world, when you have to make an interpretation, is the more egalitarian world view? That the companies are rational beings who have a sense of fairness? The problem is that these 2 answer choices can work, but in reality, E works better because many companies that I am familiar with, and what I studied in college, is that they are unfair.


    • Chris Lele
      Chris November 5, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

      Hi Cy,

      Yes, that can be quite tricky. While there is no hard and fast rule to where a clue is going to be, typically right after blank is a good place to look. This question throws us a bit of a curve ball at the end. I agree – the weakened opposition could make the ban unlikely, if you reason as follows: a chemical company will weakly oppose a proposed ban if it seems unlikely of passing. But what if evidence is so damning that it seems pointless to lobby anymore?

      Either interpretation works. Thus the real clue is in the first part of the sentence. Basically, because CFCs were the cause of hole in the ozone, they are likely to be banned soon. But I think you noticed this clue as well. Hence you were able to come up with the correct words for the blank (manifest/coming = imminent).

      The twist here is how you interpreted the weakening opposition. While you reasoned a way to make ‘unlikely’ work, you shouldn’t let that override the entire first part of the sentence. See, if chemical companies weaken their opposition then there is very little stopping the ban from going into effect soon.

      At the end of the day you do not have to bring any outside knowledge into the question (in fact, I think that kind of hurt you here). So I would say always match up the answer choice with your own word.

      On the other hand, if you see an answer choice that kind of works, you can find a rationalization to make that answer work. Sometimes the reasoning involved to make a wrong answer valid – or so my theory goes – takes more mental steps, so, in the end, you tend to belief more in this elaborate explanation than in a more straightforward one.

      Hopefully, that last part makes sense. And let me know if you’ve come across any similar to this. I’d be glad to help!

    • Mohamed November 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm #


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