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GRE TC Challenge Questions

In honor of the New GRE Verbal Questions Guide, I’ve come up with some Text Completion challenge questions (Reading Comprehension and Sentence Equivalence challenges will follow soon).

The questions are ordered in terms of difficulty and try to accurately capture the “flavor” of these most recent questions. (I’ll describe more what I mean by “flavor” in the explanations post, which will be up shortly).


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


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


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

Very Hard

Amrulka maintains that the media is all to 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

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


Update 9/18/14: Explanations now available here!

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23 Responses to GRE TC Challenge Questions

  1. Aath Inchi September 11, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    Hello Chris, when are you posting the solutions?
    Thank You

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 15, 2014 at 10:49 am #

      Sorry for the delay. Lots of people have been asking for the solutions, and I just wasn’t able to get to them this last few weeks. Well, thats going to change today! I’ll write the explanations and they should be up on the blog later this week!

  2. Zainab Ahmed September 10, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    Okay so I am really bad with vocab but here’s what I have:

    1. A, E
    2. B, F
    3. B, F
    5. B, E, and I

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 15, 2014 at 10:51 am #

      Well, it seems that you got the toughest questions right, including the one that so few people answer correctly. However, go back to the first three questions and have another go. But great job and the toughies 🙂

  3. Akid August 30, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    Hey Chris!
    Can you give me some pointers regarding the “Hard” question. I cant seem to get the clue out of the question. The language and content seemed much harder to me than “very hard” ones to be frank. The easy and the medium level question seemed alright to me. As for the “very hard” single blank question, I came up with my own word for the blank which was “committing a crime/guilty” (something of that sort) and complicity seemed to be the closest match. For the triple blank question, the first blank is quite apparent by reading the entire text. As for blank no. 3 I felt partial concealment suited the blank best which prompted me to choose “obscure” for the second blank. “disregard” seems to extreme for the case. Please correct me if my line of thought is faulty. Waiting eagerly for your explanation of q3!

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 15, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      Hi Akid,

      Sorry for the delay :). Thanks for sharing your feedback and the way you went about solving the questions. I think most students agree with you that the hard double blank is tougher than the very hard single blank. There is a clearer clue there.

      With the last triple blank, you are right: disregard is too extreme. And the last two blanks are very closely related, so choosing obscure and concealment is the way to go. I think this week, I’ll finally have enough time to put up some explanations. So stay tuned for those later this week :).

  4. Neal August 27, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    My attempt:

    1. A F (Key word: predicated)
    2. C F(Key word: eager willingness)
    3. B F(key word: dissent)
    4. B(Key word:prevaricating)
    5. B E I(This passage is occult to me(I literally don’t know what it is trying to say), so i looked at the options as the main recourse; (A)(C) pretty much meant the same, logically. An ‘even if’ in the concluding sentence leads me to choose (E), and (I) shares a semantic closeness with (E)).

    Hi Chris, thank you for the practice.
    I ain’t sure if the key word that i located for every passage was right or wrong.
    Look forward to your illumination.

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 28, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

      Good job! You are the first person to get them all right :).

      The clues are mostly correct. I’d say a few of these have several clues, each important, scattered throughout. I’ll elucidate in the explanation post coming up next week!

      • Karan September 2, 2014 at 2:42 am #

        Hey Chris,

        Thanks for these really awesome TC questions!

        I am having trouble with only 1 blank, in the HARD question, why can’t the first blank be “trite” ? What additional clues does the sentence give us that makes “untenable” the right choice?

        • Chris Lele
          Chris Lele September 4, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

          Hi Karan,

          Glad you liked the questions. I’ll have the explanations for all the questions up soon. “Trite” isn’t correct because it just means unoriginal. What’s going on here is that an idea just isn’t at all valid, since the second part of the sentence says that politicians must always follow the party lines. So the idea in the first part of the sentence is not defendable or is untenable.

          Will give a more thorough explanation soon 🙂

  5. Pushkar August 27, 2014 at 2:49 am #

    I have my answers!!
    Easy- A, F
    Medium- B, D
    Hard- A, D
    Very Hard- B
    B, E, H

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 27, 2014 at 10:40 am #

      Hi Pushkar,

      Thanks for your answers :). These are very hard, and I’m thinking that even the medium one might be closer to difficult. As for the rest, they are all very tough. You got the easy one right, though :).

      I’ll have the answers and explanations up next week!

  6. Altamash August 26, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    1) A,F
    2) C,F
    4) C
    5) B, F,G

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 27, 2014 at 10:44 am #

      Hi Altamash,

      You got the first two right. To be honest, the last three might be harder than I anticipated. The answers and explanations will be up next week.

  7. Amit Poddar August 26, 2014 at 6:38 pm #


    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 27, 2014 at 10:42 am #

      Awesome! You were 4/5. The very last one–that really convoluted one about the memoirist–have another go at it with the last two blanks.

  8. Arjun August 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    Hey Chris!

    I just wanted verify my answers to the questions above.

    EASY: A, F
    HARD: A,F
    : B,E,H

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 27, 2014 at 10:48 am #

      Hi Arjun,

      The first two you got right :). And you almost got the really tough one right (check the last blank). For the very hard single blank, you put two answer (one of them is right :)).

  9. Sriram August 26, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    I must confess that having run through the TC’s in the latest ETS offering without much hardship, I found the three blank completion in the ‘very hard’ section above almost insuperable and the ‘hard’ TC had me addled too; however, for what its worth, here’s my attempt:
    Easy : (A) and (F)
    Medium: (C) and (F)
    Hard : (A) and (D)
    Very Hard : (i) C
    (ii) (B),(E) and (I)

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 27, 2014 at 10:57 am #

      Hi Sriram,

      With the last two, I went beyond what I’d seen in the book, figuring that the actual test would have one or two of this magnitude (I still tried to keep the general “flavor” of the questions). That said, you were the only one who answered the last one (the convoluted one about the memoirist) correctly. The ‘hard’, (which, I admit, is probably ‘very hard’), and the single-blank TC you missed (I’ll have answers and explanations up next week).

      But since you were able to get through the Verbal guide without too many problems, you will do very well on the test. Still, the hardest section will probably have one or two that fall outside the scope of the guide in terms of difficulty. Hopefully, I somewhat capture that in the last three :).

      Good luck, and let me know how you do on the test :).

      • Sriram August 28, 2014 at 1:20 am #

        I most certainly will. Thanks for the feedback.

  10. ACHILLES August 26, 2014 at 12:13 pm #






    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 27, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      Hi Acilles,

      These questions tended to be a little tougher than I thought. The medium was more like a medium difficult, and the others were just terribly difficult. Take another look at the questions. The answers are 1. A, F 2. C, F 3. B, F 4. B, F (Don’t worry about the last–it is overly difficult).

      A much better of your performance is the verbal guide itself, which, if you have time, you should pick up/download.

      Good luck on your test 🙂

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