GRE Verbal: Two Example Problems and Solutions

So just to clarify on our last post, the GRE will be offered in the month of July. Sorry about the confusion, folks! Time for some example problems!

Example Sentence Completion Problem

Example Sentence Completion Problem

All sentence completion questions are about half vocabulary and half context clue detective-ery, which is a word I just made up. Vocabulary is vocabulary — the only way to improve your vocab is to read more or study some vocab lists.

So let’s start off with context clues. How does the sentence clue you in to what should be in the blanks? The first important context clue in this sentence is the appositive phrase “even if fought for individual liberty and democratic rights.” Think about when you use the phrase “even if.”

“Even if I run really fast, I will never be able to travel faster than the speed of light.”
“Even if you jump really high, you will never be able to escape the Earth’s gravitational pull.”
“Even if I eat an entire birthday cake myself, I will never be able to make up for the fact that nobody showed up to my party.”

“Even if” signals to us that what comes after it will not affect the outcome. So in this sentence, “even if fought for individual liberty and democratic rights,” implies that “individual liberty and democratic rights” will not be present in the war. Thus, we can eliminate answer choices (A) and (D) because “espoused” means embraced, and “followed” means, well, followed — these definitions are not compatible with the idea of “not being present.” Suppressed, suspended, and rejected all imply that they will not be present in the war.

Now our sentence basically says

“A war, even if fought for individual liberty and democratic rights, usually requires that these principles be [not there]…”

Next, let’s find the context clues for the second blank. The key phrase here is “for they are —— the regimentation and discipline…” First, let’s look at the word “for.” For basically means “because,” so this half of the sentence is telling us why “individual liberty and democratic rights” will not be in the war. Next, identify the pronoun. “They” is referring to the principles. Now, let’s replace it and try to understand where the sentence is leading.

“A war, even if fought for individual liberty and democratic rights, usually requires that these principles be [not there] [because] [individual liberty and democratic rights] are —— the regimentation and discipline…”

What is the relationship between “individual liberty and democratic rights” and “regimentation and discipline?” They are opposites! So let’s plug that into our sentence.

“A war, even if fought for individual liberty and democratic rights, usually requires that these principles be [not there] [because] [these principles] are [opposite to] [these other principles]…”

We can now also eliminate (B) and (E) because “fulfilled through” and “inherent in” do not have compatible meanings. Thus, we’re left with answer choice (C).

Example Analogies Problem

Example Analogy Problem

This problem expresses an “object-function” relationship — the first word is some object, and the second word describes its function. So we want to find an answer choice that expresses the same relationship — the first word is an object (a noun), and the second word describes its function (also in a noun form).

A pound is not used for heaviness, and a quotation is not used for agreement. Thus, we can eliminate answer choices (A) and (D).

However, (B), (C), and (E) all express a similar “object-function” relationship. So we have to narrow it further. A caret, according to dictionary.com, is “a mark made in written or printed matter to show the place where something is to be inserted.” The distinguishing factor is that it’s “a mark made in written or printed matter.” If we look back at our answer choices, we see that one of them is also used in written or printed matter to indicate something — a comma. A comma can be described as a mark made in written or printed matter to show the place where a reader should pause. Because answer choice (B) has this additional layer of specificity, it is a better answer than (C) and (E). UPDATE (2/8/11): The answer is actually (C), not (B), as I had originally written. Thanks to HatetheGRE! Nice username, by the way.

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2 Responses to GRE Verbal: Two Example Problems and Solutions

  1. HatetheGRE says:

    Umm….isn’t the answer to the analogies problem (c), comma: pause, as you describe it in your explanation? Why would it be (b)? Could you actually EXPLAIN that answer, if it is indeed correct?

    • Jason says:

      Yes, you are absolutely, right! Thanks for pointing that out; it was a typo on my part. The answer is indeed (C), not (B).

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