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GRE Text Completions: “Support” or “Reject” Synonyms

The new GRE Text Completions are full of theories and ideas that are either being supported or rejected. Of course, we have to pick one of the two, as the word usually corresponds to a blank. And, usually, ‘support’ and ‘reject’ are not two answer choices. Instead, the new GRE is fond of using more difficult words that are synonyms for either ‘support’ or ‘reject.’ Learn these words well, and you will fare much better on the Verbal section.

Support a Theory/Claim

  • Bolster
  • Espouse
  • Maintain
  • Assert
  • Sustain

Reject or Weaken a Theory/Claim

  • Undermine
  • Counter
  • Gainsay
  • Repudiate
  • Refute
  • Invalidate
  • Rebut
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Call a Claim into Question (similar to the reject or weaken category)

  • Impugn
  • Oppugn
  • Dispute
  • Take Issue with

Now let’s see if you can crack this two-blank  Text-Completion…

She rarely cared to (i) ______ those claims that were on the periphery of science, yet she often, and sometimes contentiously,  ______ the sacred cows of science.

A. scrutinizeD. took issue with
B. rebutE. bolstered
C. sustainF. contemplated

The relationship between the two blanks is that they are similar. Even though yet is a sentence shifter, i.e. the part before yet is opposite to the part after yet, she rarely cared to… shifts the first blank back, so that it is the same as the second blank (it’s like a double negative, which equals a positive).

Whether the first and second blank mean to support or reject hinges on the word contentiously, which means argumentatively. You typically reject something contentiously instead of supporting something contentiously (to show intense support, you would use the adjective vehement, as in vehement support).

Therefore, the correct answer for each blank should be a word in the “reject category”. Only answers  (B) and (D) work.


The new GRE commonly recycles the words above in Text Completions. Remember how these words function, and you will be able to better work through the Verbal section. 

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7 Responses to GRE Text Completions: “Support” or “Reject” Synonyms

  1. Ankita December 20, 2015 at 1:13 am #

    Hey Chris,

    Corroborate and espouse both mean to support an idea. Can they be used interchangeably or, are there some subtle or major differences ?



  2. David June 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    There seems to be a typo in your explanation and to the answer choices given.



    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 5, 2013 at 10:45 am #

      Hi David,

      Thanks for pointing that out :). I made the necessary corrections.

  3. Kumar October 10, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Hey Chris,

    I’m a bit confused as to why “scrutinize” wouldn’t be a good fit for the first blank in the question above. In this context, couldn’t “scrutinize” be used to imply that the person rarely cared to examine and critique claims in the periphery?

    I have another question about the sample question ETS has on its website on this page:

    In question 5, choice B seemed like a good choice to me because of the last sentence in the passage. Although, when I read into it a bit more, choice B seems to indicate that Glass is composing popular music, which is an idea that the passage explicitly disputes. Am I missing something or is that it?

    Also, in the revised GRE reading comprehension, are there questions that ask you to identify which statements, if true, would bolster/undermine the main argument in the passage? I find these questions challenging.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris October 11, 2011 at 10:49 am #

      For the text completion, scrutinize could work, kind of. Just because something kind of works doesn’t mean it is the best answer. We want a word that is stronger than scrutinize, which just means to look at carefully. The relationship of the blanks shows that they are similar – she did not take issue with science on the periphery, but science that was accepted as truth.

      As for the Glass passage, the last bit is saying that Glass is still creating classical music, only he is using elements from rock music. He is not trying to elevate rock music so that it is at the same level of classical music, which is answer choice (B). It seems that you agree with this, “…Glass is composing popular music…” That is you say yourself that answer (B) does not apply. So I’m not quite sure why you think (B) applies.

      • Hao July 17, 2013 at 7:00 am #


        I want to ask why we want a word stronger than scrutenize? Which I believe means to call into question? Since the other blank also means to call into question shouldn’t the first blank also mean to call into question? Logically it is not a contradiction if you support something with little proof and with much proof just as much.

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele July 17, 2013 at 11:55 am #

          Hi Hao,

          “Scrutinize” actually means to examine closely. And that’s what I meant in saying that it wasn’t strong enough. We need the contrast with “take issue”, but because the sentence begins, “rarely cared to” the first blank has to be the same as take issue. “Rebut” has the connotation of directly challenging. To scrutinize doesn’t necessarily mean to challenge or to criticize.

          Hope that helps!

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