Sentence Equivalence Strategies – Choose Your Own Word

On the GRE, the answer choices can be your enemy. In the case of Sentence Equivalence and Text Completions, if you happen to catch yourself plugging the answer choices into the blank, stop. By placing an answer choice in the blank, you bias your interpretation of the sentence and, suddenly, the word seems to make sense in context.

To avoid falling for this trap, make sure to come up with your own word for the blank. Also make sure that this word is based on information in the sentence (the clue). Once you do so, match up your word with the answer choice(s).

In the case of Sentence Equivalence, the strategy of coming up with your own word also applies. Try it with the following question.


It has been said that the media have no memory, meaning that the news is only as __________ as the front page of the daily rag.

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(A) ostentatious

(B) enduring

(C) fleeting

(D) timely

(E) temperamental

(F) long-lived


1. Break Down the Sentence and Look For Clue

First, break down the sentence in your own words. Basically, nothing lasts long in the media, the media have no memory… (the Clue). The sentence goes on to say that the news is only as —- as the front page. What word would fit in the blank? Long-lasting.


2. Match Words with Answers

Which answer choices mean long lasting? Answer choice (B) enduring and (F) long-lived.

By following the steps above, you will be able to successfully handle those Sentence Equivalence and Text Completions in which you know most of the vocabulary.


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