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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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8 Responses to Explanation to Advanced Triple Blank Text Completion

  1. Vivian July 7, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    Hi Chris,

    Just wondering how the “on the other hand” part fits with choice H.



    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele July 9, 2014 at 11:32 am #

      Hi Vivian,

      “On the other hand” contrast the logical nature of philosophy with the not-so-logical nature of the humanities. Specifically, the author uses the word “argumentative validity” as a stand-in for logical nature. That’s why we need the phrase “on the other hand” to contrast philosophy/argumentative validity with our appreciation of literature, which doesn’t require rigid logic.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Mireille June 6, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    Thank, Chris… I’m sure it will be a positive one. While I gathered all my materials together (done already, by the way!), I had to send a few emails with inquiries and all I received back was very friendly, helpful and professional feedback. Whoever handles your hiring was worth hiring! 🙂

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 11, 2014 at 11:55 am #

      That’s great to hear :). I’ll let them know.

  3. Mireille June 2, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    …thanks, Chris! You kept your word, I see. 🙂

    It is definitely tough to get all those nuances right, especially in less than 2 minutes! This is a passage that I would have to read over and over again and even then I couldn’t guarantee I got it all right. 🙁

    So yes, definitely a good advice…give this one some thought only if you have time to spare at the very end, and only AFTER you went over your other questions one last time and made the necessary corrections! :))

    My only dilemma now is if Solomon, Solomon, Solomon 🙂 had the sparkle in less that 2 minutes…or in 2 minutes sharp! 🙂


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele June 4, 2014 at 11:46 am #

      Hi Mireille,

      Yeah, it is tough to do so in less 2 minutes. And who knows, maybe Solomon spent a night lucubrating on this problem :).

      Good luck with the real test 🙂

      • Mireille June 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

        Thanks, Chris! I’m planning on taking it towards fall, November most likely. I’ll definitely sign up for your Premium plan beginning of July — just waiting for my 10 year old to be done with school, so we can watch the math videos together. When I can’t quite seem to get it — she’ll set me straight! LOL

        Anyway, you might have just waken up Napoleon’s all monsters with your supposition! Solomon might get back to you now riding a volcano-like fire spreading beast, and you’ll most likely need time to recover after his tirade! 😀 He might have thought about it the entire night indeed — or he might have known what the author meant to write before that text was even written. That, of course, in case somehow Solomon is not the author himself! 🙂

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele June 6, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

          Ha! No, no–I’m not masquerading as Solomon (though he does sound like me at my grandiloquent best–or would that be worst 🙂 ). Hopefully, I will not be beset by Napoleonic hoards.

          Good luck prepping–and hope you enjoy the Magoosh experience (let me know if anything is not up to snuff :)!)

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