GRE Verbal : Style, Intensity, and Connotation in One-Blank Texts

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Texts

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

Many choose to become college professors, even though the road to tenure can be ___________.

Possible Answers:

overt

rewarding

caustic

dogmatic

tortuous

Correct answer:

tortuous

Explanation:

“Tortuous” means unnecessarily twisted or difficult. It is the only choice that is both negative and can describe a metaphorical road.

Example Question #2 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Texts

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

The musician’s attempts to brighten the mood continually failed, as all his songs sounded like __________

 

Possible Answers:

dirges

revivals

laments

waltzes

celebrations

Correct answer:

dirges

Explanation:

Because the musician failed to “brighten the mood,” the word which will complete the sentence needs to indicate a slow, even sad tone. "Celebration" and "revival" are instantly struck out for their positive connotations, while "waltz" is a mood-neutral musical term. "Laments" may look like a potentially correct answer choice, but the term typically reserved for describing speech and writing, not music, making "dirges" the best answer choice.

Example Question #3 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Texts

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

The conversation, which began as a minor disagreement between two friends, had escalated into a __________ display of enmity.

Possible Answers:

disgraceful

villainous

immoral

judgmental

contentious

Correct answer:

contentious

Explanation:

This sentence is very obvious in calling for an intensified word to complete the first half of the sentence. In the first portion, the conversation is said to be a minor disagreement. To "escalate" means to increase in intensity—like an escalator going upwards in a building. When a conversation is "contentious," it is a heated disagreement. This well describes the escalation from a disagreement to something much worse.

Example Question #4 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Texts

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

While Patricia wanted to __________ the paper, John thought she should only ameliorate its most egregious faults.

Possible Answers:

perfect

revisit

spurn

improve

ignore

Correct answer:

perfect

Explanation:

The word "ameliorate" means to make better. The word "only" implies that John thinks that Patricia is overly concerned with the paper. He does not think she needs to go as far as she wants to in improving it. Therefore, it is best to choose the simple word "perfect." She wants it to be perfected, but John is telling her (effectively), "Just make it a bit better."

Example Question #5 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Texts

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

After realizing that mild critiques were not enough to change Neville's outlook, Miranda decided to level a __________ critique of his position.

Possible Answers:

fierce

pleonastic

sagacious

vilifying

intellectual

Correct answer:

fierce

Explanation:

This sentence hints that Miranda felt the need to present a much harsher critique of Neville's position. To "level" a critique is merely to state it, often frankly and honestly. All that we can say is that the critique will be severe, in contrast to its nicer, milder form earlier. The word "fierce" best expresses this increased severity.

Example Question #6 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Texts

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

With time, the distressing remark had become a mere __________ in Joel's mind.

Possible Answers:

reflection

phantom

spirit

misery

delight

Correct answer:

phantom

Explanation:

The idea here is well summarized in the old adage, "Time heals all wounds." The passage of time has helped make Joel's wounds reduce to nearly nothing at all. They may not be delights, but they are as wispy as a ghost—that is, as wispy as a phantom. The language is a bit metaphorical, but we do sometimes speak of vestiges / leftover realities as being "phantoms." This is the best option. Do not at all be tempted by "spirits," a word that is trying to confuse you in regard to "phantoms."

Example Question #1 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Texts

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

The end of apartheid in South Africa brought an end to the institutionalization of racism in the country; however, the rise of xenophobia provided a new subject of __________ for the populace.

Possible Answers:

chicanery

enmity

dislike

anathema

altruism

Correct answer:

enmity

Explanation:

Through the context, you can tell that the blank will need to be filled with a negative word, as the pairing of "end of racism" and "however," as well as the mention of the "rise of xenophobia" leading to the blank implies that the word in the blank must mean some sort of hatred. This means that "altruism" (concern for the condition of other people above one's own) is out, as is "chicanery" (trickery), as both have nothing to do with phobias, racism, or the like. 

That leaves "anathema," "dislike," and "enmity." While "anathema" is associated with strong hatred, it actually describes the object, and not the attitudes of the people towards that object directly, so that can be thrown out through context. And while "dislike" works in the sentence, it doesn't have a very strong negative connotation, so pairing it with racism doesn't seem quite right.  That leaves the correct answer, "enmity," as the only answer with the correct meaning AND connotation.

Example Question #61 : Text Completion

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

When Laura’s sharp retorts did not __________ the strange man’s advances, she gave him a fake number in order to finally get rid of him for good.

Possible Answers:

paliate

attenuate

halt

amend

discourage

Correct answer:

halt

Explanation:

From the sentence, you can deduce that Laura's ultimate goal with her retorts is to get rid of the strange man talking to her, but she doesn't succeed until she changes tactics. Therefore, "amend" (improve) does not fit the context. And while the other for words are meant to lessen and/or stop the advances to various extents—"attenuate" (diminish), "palliate" (soothe), "discourage" (persuade not to do something), and "halt" (stop)—it is only the word with the strongest connotation, "halt," that matches the notion of "getting rid of for good." Thus, "halt" is the correct answer.

Example Question #62 : Text Completion

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

The superstar’s __________ when asked about her relationship with her co-star made the media believe that she was lying about their relationship.

Possible Answers:

articulations

canards

prevarications

duplicities

imitations

Correct answer:

prevarications

Explanation:

The superstar's actions when questioned made the media believe that she lied. Therefore, "duplicities" (lies) doesn't fit, as it's too strong for what amounts to suspicion. "Imitations" (copies) also doesn't work on a definition basis. We're left with "canards" (rumors with no basis), "articulations" (things that are said), and "prevarications" (indirect answers to a question allowing one to avoid telling the truth).  

While "articulations" could work, as her words could be leading the media to believe she is lying, it is not nearly as specific as the other two words. And while "canards" could also work, as her spoken rumors could lead them to believe she's lying, it's not as specific as "prevarications," which is directly related to lines of questioning. Thus, "prevarications" is the correct answer.

Example Question #63 : Text Completion

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

The world was __________ when Harper Lee announced that she had written a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird; no one had expected the announcement since it had been over fifty years since she had published the original book.

Possible Answers:

bemused

flabbergasted

wandering

bewildered

disbelieving

Correct answer:

flabbergasted

Explanation:

A tried-and-true approach to text completion questions is the process of elimination approach: get rid of answer choices first due to their definitions, then due to their connotations and intensities. On many questions, just the first part of the process will suffice, though on some, like this one, you will have to consider connotations as well.

First, we can get rid of "wandering" (traveling aimlessly) because the word doesn't make much sense in context. Then, we're left with "flabbergasted," "bewildered," "bemused," and "disbelieving," which all express some level of shock and/or confusion, an emotion that makes sense if a book's sequel is announced fifty years after it was published.  

However, it is here that you must pay special attention to context clues. The sentence explicitly states that "no one expected" the sequel, but says nothing about anyone being confused, caught off guard, or the like. There is simply surprise. Thus, the words that imply confusion—"bewildered" and "bemused"—can be thrown out. The sentence also doesn't explicitly state anything about skepticism, which "disbelieving" implies, at the very least. Thus, we are left with "flabbergasted," which is the correct answer.

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