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So What Exactly is a Text Completion? (And who’s that Russian author?)


For a text completion, you are asked to fill in anywhere from one to three blanks. The number of blanks will be immediately apparent from the question. The twist here is that if the sentence has two or three blanks you will be given three answer choices for each blank. In order to get the question right, you must choose the correct words for both blanks. No partial credit.


Dostoevsky’s characters are rarely —. In one chapter a given character may hardly take part in the dialogue, often retreating —-  to a corner of a room. A few chapters later that same character will be prone to bouts of —, during which time he or she will speak in a ceaseless manner bordering on hysteria.


(a) amiable(a) prematurely(a) lethargy
(b) stable(b) docilely(b) dementia
(c) forthright(c) sullenly(c) logorrhea


As you can see this question is more involved then a sentence equivalent question. First off you can’t just dive into the first blank hoping that the answer will jump out at you.


In order to understand the sentence—and by extension the first blank—you must read the entire sentence. Don’t succumb to the temptation of trying to plug in a word for the first blank without reading deeper into the sentence.


As you would do on the current sentence completions, look for the clue or signpost, come up with your own word, and then match accordingly.


This is when you plug in different words seeing which one sounds right. Doing so will only cost you time in the long run and will most likely (now that only 1 in 27 answers is the correct one) lead to an incorrect answer.


Does anybody think they know the correct answer(s)?


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17 Responses to So What Exactly is a Text Completion? (And who’s that Russian author?)

  1. Jamiul Islam June 5, 2018 at 5:04 am #

    Dear Chris,
    I have gone through ur posted text completions and found them pretty useful. I found, in addition, some useful practice TC and sentence equivalences in Magoosh GRE book also. Can u tell me where I can find a plethora of Hard Text Completion problems?

    As u told, I have found that Manhattan 5lb is not as good in TC part. Do u think the Old Big Book will be helpful in this regard? Although the Big Book lacks in 3 blank questions and sentence equivalence, I found many challenging TC problems there. In fact, one of the Hardest text completion problem of ETS Official Guide did came from Old Big Book.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 5, 2018 at 10:19 am #

      Hi Jamiul,

      Great questions. I agree with you that the GRE Big Book is a flawed-yest-still-good source of practice for TC/SE. You’re also right that the Manhattan 5 lb Book is not quite so good for TC. However, Manhattan has managed to improved a bit on that front in their newer material, and on their online test. For details on this, see Chris’s Manhattan GRE Book review.

      I see you’ve also purchased Magoosh GRE Premium. This will be an excellent source of TC and SE practice for you as well, Jamiul! 😀

  2. Yashaswi Bharadwaj May 9, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Is the answer to the above question (c) (b) (c) ?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 10, 2017 at 9:03 am #

      Close. It’s actually (b) (c) (c). As Chris mentions, (b) doesn’t quite work for the second blank, because a “docile” person is obedient. But being obedient is not necessarily the same as being speechless.

  3. ruth August 1, 2016 at 11:47 am #

    Hi Chris,
    English is not my language I’m learning it. every single word as i go through the verbal section is a mystery. i need a dictionary all the way. how would advise a person like me, on strategies and all pieces of advise you can give me.
    thank you.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 7, 2016 at 11:05 am #

      Hi Ruth,

      The best thing that you can do is work steadily on expanding your vocabulary every day! We recommend that you try to learn just 5-10 new words a day, but that you learn them really well. Make sure that you understand how the word is used in context and that you can use it yourself in writing or speaking. Learning a word in context will help you to recognize it when you see it later on. Even if you don’t remember the exact definition of the word, if you have seen or used it in context you should be able to remember something about it, and your brain will start to make connections between this word and the context in which you have seen it before. The more you read and work on vocab, the more easily you will be able to remember the words! So whenever you see a word you don’t know, write it down on a flashcard along with the context and try to determine what the word means on your own before looking up the definition on or .

      Besides this, the best advice that I can give you to is to read a GRE-level article every day. This will help you to learn vocabulary in context as well as improve your overall reading vocabulary. If you read diligently, you will see great improvement over time!

      We also have some resources that can help you out. Check them out:
      Magoosh GRE Flashcards:
      Reading Vocabulary in Context:
      GRE Vocabulary:

  4. edy September 20, 2011 at 4:09 am #

    I think the answer will be B C A

  5. Chandranster July 13, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    Yeah that was a tricky one. Thanks Chris!

  6. c June 13, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    i think it’s C, C, C. what do you think, chris?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris June 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

      Well, this is a tricky one. You were almost correct–the last two blanks are C, C. (Logorrhea is ceaseless speaking. Sullen contrasts well with the incessant speaking.)

      For the first blank, we want a word showing that the characters change suddenly. Forthright means honest so that doesn’t work. Stable (B) is the best answer.

      Therefore, B, C, C.

      Hope that helps, guys!

      • Deepthi April 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

        Hi Chris,

        I still don’t understand why it is sullenly and why it can’t be docilely? Sullenly gives you a perception of retreating in a sad way right (which is not mentioned in the context that the characters are sad)? On the other docilely gives you a perception of retreating in a quiet manner. Well that was my reasoning for choosing B, B, C.

        Your Thoughts?

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele April 16, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

          Hi Deepthi,

          For the second blank, I think we can agree that the word “silently” is a pretty good guess for making up our own word. From the second to the third sentence, the character goes from not speaking at all, to speaking nonstop. Knowing this, we can go back to the first blank. We know the characters change a lot (speaking—>not speaking), so they would be rarely _____ ? Stable fits nicely here.

          For the second blank, we are looking for a word that means something similar to “silently.” This character who is “silent” is retreating off to the corner of the room, and does not want to talk to anyone. “Docilely” indeed is a tempting answer choice, however its connotation stops it from being the perfect answer. “Docile” means that you yield to supervision, or that you go along with things easily. However, in this sentence, the character is NOT going along with things, but rather he is retreating from everyone else and not taking part in the dialogue. “Sullenly” means that you like to be alone, that you’re a solitary person, or that you’re sulky. This fits perfectly in the blank.

          Hope that was helpful!

          • Mihir October 27, 2015 at 11:58 am #

            You bring in an amazing point about act of retrieving in choosing Sullenly over Docilely. Although I still am not fully convinced. Retrieving has a submissive connotation since it is predominantly used in war like scenarios. This, in turn gives docilely more aptness than sullenly. What do you think?

      • Yashaswi Bharadwaj May 9, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

        But, ‘forthright’ would also mean ‘outspoken’, right? In this sense, can’t we choose this word for the first blank?

        Also, please explain in what sense does ‘stable’ is used here?

        Please explain why the word ‘docilely’ can’t be used as an option.

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
          Magoosh Test Prep Expert May 10, 2017 at 9:00 am #

          “Outspoken” doesn’t exactly work for the first blank, because it’s describing a character that is sometimes silent, but sometimes speaks a lot. So we can’t say the character is “rarely” outspoken. It’s not rare for the character to speak freely, but it’s also not rare for the character to have periods where they speak very little.

  7. ash June 1, 2011 at 5:02 am #

    i think its A,B,C

  8. sachin May 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    I think the answer will be


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