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Explanations to the TC Challenge Questions

About a month back, I released some new TC questions I’d come up with—questions inspired, albeit somewhat loosely, by ETS’s verbal guide. The response to these questions was more than I had expected. I was quite surprised. Of course, many people simply wanted the answers and the explanations. In that regard, I was totally
derelict. So my apologies! Here are the questions and the long-awaited explanations :).


Long considered folk wisdom, the notion that talent is _______ has recently been called into doubt by those asserting that the emergence of talent is predicated on a complex interplay of circumstances (disciplined training, external motivation, early exposure), thereby suggesting that _______ may play a far less crucial role than previously thought.

Blank (i)

(A) hard-wired
(B) fleeting
(C) moldable

Blank (ii)

(D) practice
(E) upbringing
(F) genetics


Those questioning the “notion” believe that talent is based (“predicated”) on circumstances or, more loosely speaking, environment. Therefore, they are questioning the notion that talent is innate/hard-wired, i.e., something we are born with. Therefore, what will play a far less crucial role than previously thought (“long considered folk wisdom”) is genetics. Answers are (A) and (F).



Surveys recently administered to middle-level managers in the technology sector suggest that an eager willingness on the part of a new employee to complete tasks is hardly a reliable indicator of whether that employee will continue to work (i) ____________; after all, even the most (ii) ____________ of new hires takes a while to exhibit the first signs of malingering.

Blank (i)
(A) after hours
(B) uninterrupted
(C) with gusto

Blank (ii)
(D) uncaring
(E) outgoing
(F) alacritous


This question is all about eager willingness. The first blank will relate to the clue continuing to work with eager willingness. (A) is not a direct match with the clue—just ask anyone who has hard to work after hours. (B) is also vague and doesn’t clearly match up with the idea of showing eager willingness while you work (you can plod through your work uninterrupted. This leads to the second blank.

The context is as follows: Just because you work eagerly at first does not mean you will continue to do so. Even those who eventually end up avoiding work by feigning illness (that’s what a malingerer does) will take a while not to act with eager willingness. This points to (F), which means eager willingness. Now, you don’t necessarily have to know that word; you just have to know that neither (D) and (E) squarely fit the context. For instance, you can definitely be an outgoing malingerer (I’ve known quite a few of these over the years).



The notion that our political parties trumpet their differences during election time only to make amends as soon as the incumbent is sworn into office has become ________; reelection into any political office has long come with _______—nary a peep of dissent against the party line or your political career is kaput.

Blank (i)
(A) trite
(B) untenable
(C) hazardous

Blank (ii)
(D) a heightened sense of danger
(E) a series of broken promises
(F) the concession of unflinching partisanship


This is a toughie. The first part is saying that there is an idea floating about, one that goes like this: during election time the different parties pretend they are much different, but once the election is over that changes and they are buddy-buddy (“make amends”). The second part of the sentence shows that this notion is totally wrong: anyone who wants to get reelected will always stick to the party line.

Therefore, once an incumbent is in office, the differences are still very important. (A) was a trap answer that many went for. It actually means unoriginal. We want a word, however, that shows that the notion is flat out wrong, or (B). If an idea or a position is untenable it cannot be defended. (F) matches up nicely with the idea of being in lockstep with the party line.

Very Hard #1

Amrulka maintains that the media is all too quick to peddle the common trope of the prevaricating politician; in doing so, she argues, it overlooks the possibility that the inability to account for one’s actions during a scandal is not necessarily tantamount to _______.

(A) ineptitude
(B) complicity
(C) vindication
(D) backpedalling
(E) repudiation


This question is pretty dense. Luckily, there is a clue: prevaricating means intentionally lying. The sentence is saying that just because a politician doesn’t speak out about a scandal he or she has been implicated in doesn’t mean they are guilty. Answer: (B).

(D) and (E) both imply trying to account for one’s actions. Though (D) implies that the person implicated is not doing a very convincing job. Still, the specific word we need is guilty and only complicity matches that.


Very Hard #2

In an age in which the shameless confessional has reached its clumsy apotheosis on social media sites, which are ceaselessly abuzz with up-to-the-minute revelations, the work of the memoirist seems (i)______ the zeitgeist. This turn of events is not altogether surprising considering that, unlike those who pour forth their innermost thoughts the moment they hatch, the memoirist does the opposite: she must mull over—often to the point of obsession—those details that will best make for a compelling narrative, even if the result (ii) ______ the original sentiment. Her art, then, is ultimately one of (iii) ______

Blank (i)
(A) suspiciously dependent upon
(B) curiously disconnected from
(C) more in step than ever with

Blank (ii)
(D) invokes
(E) obscures
(F) disregards

Blank (iii)
(G) outright refusal
(H) subtle concession
(I) partial concealment


This sentence has a lot going on in terms verbiage. The key is to home in on the important parts. How does the memoirist relate to those who use social media sites to transmit “shameless confessional” . The “unlike” hints that the memoirist is different from the shameless confessors. Therefore, (B) works best. “Zeitgeist”, by the way, means the spirit of the times. Notice this word applies the shameless confessors (“in an age”).

For the second blank, we are explicitly dealing with how the memoirist differs from the confessors. She actually withholds details in the name of a good story. So she is partially concealing (this points to (I) for the third blank) certain details— something that is very different from shamelessly confessing. (E) works well with the idea that she is giving the unvarnished truth. In other words, what the memoirist originally felt not come through clearly in her writing, since she is more focused on a compelling story.

Notice, too, how (E) and (I) are consistent. Sure, (F) and (G) are also consistent, but both are far too extreme for the context. The memoirist is not disregarding her experience completely and refusing to tell anything. She simply not just dumping thoughts the “moment they hatch”, the way many do on social media sites these days.

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9 Responses to Explanations to the TC Challenge Questions

  1. Prateek October 22, 2016 at 5:13 am #

    Hi Chris in order to do better i Sentence completion what must be the strategy for learning, I mean how can I learn it fast.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 22, 2016 at 7:34 am #

      Hi Prateek,

      Unfortunately, properly learning and improving on Text Completion problems require time and work. However, if you want to focus on your improvement, I would work on learning new vocab words, doing more problems (and reviewing), and learning TC/SE strategies to help you approach the problems. I would highly recommend using our blog for these strategies.

  2. Peter August 18, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

    The questions were very thought-provoking. I have realized that you cannot just rush into the question hoping to find the correct answer automatically. It is important to carefully read the prompt and discern the little details required to arrive at the correct answer.

  3. Peter January 21, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    I have been studying all these words for years but still cannot crack the text completion/sentence equivalence section of the GRE. It’s full of so many tricks and turns. There has got to be a way to work around it.

  4. Joanna October 18, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    I followed your strategies regarding text completion but I feel like these strategies are meant for written test rather than for computerized test. The problem I face with the computerized text is that I can’t underline important things to help me find the correct answer.

    How would you suggest I got about doing this for the computerized test?

    Help very much appreciated! Thanks!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele October 20, 2014 at 11:53 am #

      Hi Joanna,

      You might want to write down the clue words or even what word you think best fits in the blank. I think it might come down to practicing computer-based content and learning to apply the strategies without relying so much on the writing method. For instance, focus on one blank at a time, identify the words that match that blank and then come up with your own word. If that doesn’t work–text is too dense/vague–in plugging in answer choices, you might want to keep all of the answers listed on scratch paper. You can cross out those that don’t make any sense.

      And if you are running out of computer-based practice, and only have paper-based questions, treat those questions the way you would the former: by not writing on them.

      Hope that helps!

  5. raju bhai September 20, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

    Overall nice questions. The very hard #2 has dense vocab, like zeitgeist, but getting the right fill in is not difficult. The hard and very hard #1 questions seem inconsistent, especially V Hard one, in which I believe sentence one looks redundant. But nice job.I didn’t find such hard questions in Verbal book. Can you temme which materials (apart from magoosh, ofcourse) have such questions. Manhattan, I find them to be having esoteric stuff.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 22, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

      Hi Raju,

      Thanks for the feedback :). Btw by “inconsistent” are you talking about the difficulty levels? As for the very hard #1, it only has one sentence. Do you mean the part after the clause is redundant? Not quite sure I see what you mean :). Could you explain a little further, please?

  6. Sriram September 19, 2014 at 2:08 am #

    I recall being befuddled with the select usage of ‘nary’ which,simply put, means “not” or “not a”. You say – nary a peep of dissent against the party line and your political career is kaput. – which I construed as “not a peep of dissent ….”,but meant “even a peep of dissent…”, lead me to the incorrect answer choice. Can you throw some light on this? Perhaps its just me with this skewed perspective…

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