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Explanation to Advanced Triple Blank Text Completion

This Advanced Triple Blank Text Completion was one of the toughest Text Completions we’ve created at Magoosh — at least according to the content team. There are convoluted sentence structures, tantalizing (and diabolical!) distractors, nebulous phrases, and tough vocabulary. Realistically, it’s the type of question that if you see on the GRE you can probably just skip, because there won’t be too many like it (you might get a tough Critical Reasoning question or reading passage).

But if you’re already consistently scoring above 160 verbal on practice tests, this is a good question to hone your skills on.

Explanation and Answers

First off, we want to get the big picture. The passage considers philosophy to be driven mostly by logic (“philosophy…its logical nature”). The English Department, on the other hand, is mostly about aesthetics. You should note the tone of the passage, how the writer is pretty dismissive of the poor English department, implying that not much analysis goes on in there (“usually services as little more…characters”). This points to (B) relegated to, which means dropped to an inferior rank. (C), while logically consistent with the passage, doesn’t match the tone was well (notice the clue “unceremoniously dropped”). (A) beholden to implies that philosophy is somehow indebted or owes something to literature. The rest of the passage, to the contrary, implies that philosophy is a more exalted subject, guided more by logic than mere aesthetics.

I should note here that you might not agree with this passage, especially if you are an English Major. I don’t even agree with the sentiments expressed. The key is to work with the Text Completion based on the information provided.

For the second blank, we can arrive at (D) subsumed, because we know from the first sentence that philosophy has been made part of humanities, even though it is, according to the author, very different. Subsumed, by the way, means included or absorbed under. Note some of the tempting distractors (or wrong answers): (E) unrelated fits very well with the overall idea that philosophy, according to the author at least, is not related to literature. The word in the second blank, however, needs to pay attention to the clue, “this rhetorical question has been…answered”, meaning that the answer to the question is “yes”, and philosophy, to the author’s chagrin, has been “dropped alongside” or subsumed in the humanities.

Finally, the third blank is contrasting argumentative validity, which is part of philosophy (“its logical nature”), with literature, in which, according to the first part of the paragraph, the “aesthetic reigns triumphant”. This first sentence also implies that the analytical is not much a part of the English department, that our appreciation of literature is not guided by argumentative validity. This leads us to (H) little bearing.

So the answers are (B), (D), (H).  If you were able to answer those correctly, and in less than 2 minutes, awesome! My hunch is between 15-20% of students would answer this correctly.


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