GRE Verbal : Three Nouns in Three-Blank Texts

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Three Nouns In Three Blank Texts

The writer existed on the __________ of popular fame throughout his lifetime and suffered from a terrible __________ over his inability to write a bestseller; it was only __________, when the writer himself could not appreciate it, that his work became widely loved.  

Possible Answers:

Periphery . . . Despondency . . . Posthumously

Margins . . . Elation . . . Abashedly

Exigency . . . Erudition . . . Humorously

Fringe . . . Reticence . . . Contemporarily

Dogma . . . Caprice . . . Deferentially

Correct answer:

Periphery . . . Despondency . . . Posthumously

Explanation:

Because the writer was unable to write a bestseller, you can assume he existed on the margins of the fame throughout his life. And, because you are told that he only became famous when he could not appreciate it himself it is likely that he became famous after he died. This information tells you that the correct answers must be “periphery” margins, fringes; “despondency” sadness, hopelessness; “posthumously” after death. To provide additional help, “elation” means great happiness; “abashedly” means shamefully; “reticence” means reserved, not capable of speaking freely; “contemporarily” means occurring in recent times; “exigency” means need, necessity, requirement; “erudition” means education; “humorously” means funnily, done with humor; “dogma” means accepted teaching, maxim; “caprice” means a sudden change in mood; “deferentially” means done with deference, putting someone else's understanding above one's own.

Example Question #2 : Three Nouns In Three Blank Texts

Choose the set of words that best completes the following sentences.

It is important for a politician to remain __________ in his or her beliefs, but it is also important not to appear overly __________. While people admire steadfastness, __________ is never seen as a virtue; voters want the person they elect to know when to compromise and when to stand their ground.

Possible Answers:

staunch . . . obdurate . . . intransigence 

ecumenical . . . plastic . . . whimsy

candid . . . forthright . . . transparency 

obtuse . . . concilatory . . . vacillation 

craven . . . foolhardy . . . fervor 

Correct answer:

staunch . . . obdurate . . . intransigence 

Explanation:

Based on the context of the sentence, we can tell that the third blank is probably related to the characteristic warned against in the second blank; we can also infer that the first blank is probably a less extreme version of the second blank.

For the first blank, "staunch," meaning loyal, and "candid," meaning forthright, both could work as descriptions of an attitude toward a politician's beliefs. "Obtuse," meaning insensitive, "craven," meaning cowardly, and "ecumenical," meaning relating to Christian churches as a group, do not work at all. For the second blank, both being excessively "forthright," meaning straightforward, and "obdurate," meaning unyielding, both could work as characteristics to be cautioned against. We are still left with "staunch . . . obdurate . . . intransigence" and "candid . . . forthright . . . transparency" as options. "Intransigence," meaning stubborn refusal to compromise, works nicely as the opposite of "[knowing] when to compromise and when to stand their ground."

Example Question #3 : Three Nouns In Three Blank Texts

Choose the set of words that best completes the following sentences.

The impressive game-winning goal __________ the freshman soccer player’s extreme athletic ability, but he seemed uncomfortable with the way the coach publicly __________ him after the game, as he was __________ by nature.

Possible Answers:

cauterized . . . appeased . . . lethargic

undermined . . . berated . . . pompous

evinced . . . exalted . . . unostentatious 

accentuated . . . coveted . . . circumspect

invalidated . . . disregarded . . . self-effacing

Correct answer:

evinced . . . exalted . . . unostentatious 

Explanation:

Based on the fact that we know the player scored the game-winning goal, and that this stands in some relation (blank one) to the soccer player's extreme athletic ability, we can infer that the first blank will describe some action having some positive connotation. We can also tell that the final two blanks stand in some opposing relationship to each other (he seemed uncomfortable with "something" because he was "some other thing"). "Evinced," meaning indicated, and "accentuated," meaning emphasized, both could work in blank one, as both would make sense as something that would come about as a result of a freshman player scoring a game-winning goal. "Undermined," meaning subverted, completely contradicts the tone of the sentence. "Cauterized," meaning burnt, especially burnt a wound to help it begin to heal, and "invalidated," meaning contradicted, also do not work given the context. As such, we know our only two options are "evinced . . . exalted . . . unostentatious" and "accentuated . . . coveted . . . circumspect."

Regarding the second blank, "exalted" means praised, which would make sense as an action the coach would take after a player scored an important goal. "Coveted," meaning yearned for, perhaps doesn't fit perfectly, but also could potentially fit. Moving to the final blank, "unostentatious," meaning humble, would make sense given the context; however "circumspect," meaning risk-averse, does not fit in the passage well at all. As such, we know our answer is "evinced . . . exalted . . . unostentatious."

Example Question #4 : Three Nouns In Three Blank Texts

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

James thought that winning the lottery was a(n) __________ turn of events, but between struggling with tax laws and __________ relatives, it turned out to be a(n) __________.

Possible Answers:

advantageous . . . supplicant . . . adventure

interesting . . . needling . . . incident

lucky . . . begetting . . .windfall

auspicious . . . mendicant . . . albatross

unlucky . . . rapacious . . . advantage

Correct answer:

auspicious . . . mendicant . . . albatross

Explanation:

"Auspicious" is an adjective that means fortunate or prosperous, "mendicant" as an adjective means prone to begging, and an "albatross," outside of being a seabird, is a longstanding, personally burdensome item.

The first blank is followed by a contrast word ("but") and a negative consequence ("struggling with tax laws"), so we know that "auspicious" is a possibility. The second blank is paired with a method by which money can be whittled away, so "begging" or money seeking relatives makes sense as a choice here.

Example Question #5 : Three Nouns In Three Blank Texts

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

Nana lives a very __________ lifestyle; she does not drink soda or eat unhealthy __________, preferring instead a diet of __________.

Possible Answers:

abstinent . . . astringents . . . appetence

abstemious . . . comestibles . . . salubrity 

acerbic . . . cuisine . . . moderation

healthy . . . provisions . . . difficulty

hedonistic . . . sustenance . . . temperance

Correct answer:

abstemious . . . comestibles . . . salubrity 

Explanation:

"Abstemious" means moderate and responsible in one's eating and drinking, a "comestible" is a foodstuff, and "salubrity" is promoting healthful, energetic behavior.

The use of a semicolon is a clue that the two clauses will have similar and complementary themes.

Example Question #6 : Three Nouns In Three Blank Texts

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

The student was intelligent, hard-working, and __________, but he was also notoriously __________; whenever a teacher asked him to perform a task, he would always __________.

Possible Answers:

assiduous . . . recalcitrant . . . object

alacritous . . . garrulous . . . refuse

acrimonious . . . taciturn . . . filibuster

auspicious . . . diligent . . . comply

cunning . . . retiring . . . disagree

Correct answer:

assiduous . . . recalcitrant . . . object

Explanation:

"Assiduous" means diligent, "recalcitrant" means resistant to outside control, and "object" (used as a verb) means to express an objection or statement of disaproval.

The first blank comes at the end of a list of positive qualities in a student, so the "assiduous" makes sense as a third item in that list. Now, the second blank comes at the end of a clause beginning with the contrast conjunction "but," so we know that it will be a negative, or at least not actively positive word. The second two blanks are clearly connected, and going through the list "recalcitrant" and "object" make the most sense. A "recalcitrant" student would specifically resist authority by "object[ing]."

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