GRE Verbal : GRE Verbal Reasoning

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #2071 : Gre Verbal Reasoning

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

While it is easy to __________ the virtues of a healthy diet, it is also important to avoid extreme __________. Mental health must be balanced with physical health, and some diets are so __________ and taxing in their requirements that any dietary benefits are outweighed by the emotional fatigue they cause.

Possible Answers:

descry . . . deprecation . . . enervating 

occlude . . . philanthropy . . . noisome 

extol . . . asceticism . . . onerous

condone . . . veracity . . . tractable

laud . . . probity . . . panegyric 

Correct answer:

extol . . . asceticism . . . onerous

Explanation:

The context for the first two blanks might not be readily apparent, but if we jump to the final sentence, we are able to provide some context for the first sentence. We know based on the final sentence that some diets are "taxing" and emotionally draining, and that a balanced approach to diets is advisable. Using this information, we can go back to the first blank and infer that the first blank implies some positive action or attitude regarding diets, which the second blank qualifies in some way. "Extol," meaning praise, "condone," meaning accept, and "laud," meaning praise emphatically, all could make sense. "Descry," meaning see, and "occlude," meaning obstruct, don't really seem to fit in the meaning of the sentence. 

This allows us to narrow our options to "extol . . . asceticism . . . onerous," "condone . . . veracity . . . tractable," and "laud . . . probity . . . panegyric." Given that we know that it is easy to act in some positive way toward diets, but that the end of the sentence advises us to not be too extreme in some action toward those diets, "asceticism," meaning unindulgent self-discipline, certainly makes sense, and "probity," meaning strong principles, also potentially works. "Veracity," meaning truth, does not really fit in the sentence. Given the context of the final sentence, advocating for a balance between mental and physical health, "onerous," meaning burdensome, makes perfect sense. "Panegyric," meaning a speech that praises something or someone, does not fit at all. As such, we know the right answer is "extol . . . asceticism . . . onerous."

Example Question #2 : Nouns And Verbs In Three Blank Texts

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

Although his arrogant attitude ensured that he was not well liked around the office, everyone was still __________ to learn that the CEO had committed such an __________ crime. It was hard to imagine someone so __________ and pompous doing something so base and undignified.

Possible Answers:

flabbergasted . . . odious . . . highfalutin

bewildered . . . insipid . . . prodigious

buttressed . . . inane . . . trifling

chagrined  . . . fetid . . . wearisome

nonplussed . . . laborious . . . cumbersome

Correct answer:

flabbergasted . . . odious . . . highfalutin

Explanation:

Based on the context of these two sentences, we can tell that the individual in question has commited some "base and undignified crime." Furthermore, based on the use of "hard to imagine," we know that, even though he wasn't well-liked, his employees still felt that his actions were surprising. As such, we can reasonably infer that the first blank will involve conveying a sense of surprise or shock, that the second blank will in some way describe the severity of the crime committed, and that the third blank will describe a characteristic that contrasts with "base and undignified." 

Given this, "flabbergasted," meaning astonished, and "bewildered," meaning perplexed, both could make sense for the first blank. "Nonplussed," meaning unphased, would clearly not work here. "Chagrined," meaing embarassingly vexed, isn't completely nonsensical, but doesn't quite fit given the context. "Buttressed," meaning supported, also does not work. This narrows our options down to "flabbergasted . . . odious ... highfalutin," or "bewildered . . . insipid . . . prodigious." 

Moving to the next blank, we can see that "odious" is a definite possibility, as it means revolting. "Insipid," meaning unimaginative, does not seem to work quite as well. This is confirmed when we examine the final blank, in which "prodigious," meaning impressively large, gives a nonsensical meaning to the sentence. By contrast, "hghfalutin," meaning pompous, fits the context perfectly, and so by process of elimination, we are left with the correct answer: "flabbergasted . . . odious . . . highfalutin."

Example Question #3 : Nouns And Verbs In Three Blank Texts

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

Artistically, Harish was a __________ talent of nearly unmatched __________; however, he had no patience for the financial side of his chosen profession, and his work was often outsold by painters with less talent, but who possessed superior business __________.

Possible Answers:

hapless . . . ingenuity . . . perspicuity 

auspicious . . . diligence . . . encomium  

quiescent . . . rectitude . . . providence

opaque . . . steadfastness . . . assiduity 

singular . . . virtuosity . . . acumen

Correct answer:

singular . . . virtuosity . . . acumen

Explanation:

Based on the fact that the sentence describes certain other painters as having less talent than Harish, we can infer that the first blank, followed by the word "talent," will have some positive meaning. Since the second blank, following "unmatched," seems to reinforce the positively characterized talent in the first blank, we can infer that the second blank is probably some noun or adjective that would support this claim. Since the sentence makes clear that Harish is not very business-minded, and that he is often outsold by less-talented painters, we can infer that the final blank, following the phrase "superior business . . .," is probably some noun that describes some postive skill or quality relating to business. 

Given the aforementioned context for the first blank, "singular," meaning unique, and "auspicious," meaning promising, both could potentially work. "Quiescent," meaning dormant, and "opaque," meaning non-transparent, don't seem to fit well. Similarly, "hapless," meaning unlucky, also doesn't make much sense. This leaves us with two answer possibilities: "singular . . . virtuosity . . . acumen," and "auspicious . . . diligence . . . encomium."

"Virtuosity," meaning mastery, and "diligence," meaning persistence, both potentially work for the second blank, so we are still not able to eliminate either option. Moving to the third blank, "acumen," meaning cleverness in a specific field, clearly makes sense for the third blank; however, "encomium," meaning a written text that praises someone or something, makes no sense at all. This gives us our answer: "singular . . . vituosity . . . acumen." 

Example Question #2072 : Gre Verbal Reasoning

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

The philosophy professor was so __________ that she was able to transform the most __________ and commonplace of daily routines into sources of rich discussion. She demonstrated how activities as __________ as morning hygiene rituals could reveal deep insights into human nature.

Possible Answers:

opaque . . . arcane . . . omnipresent 

enrapturing . . . prosaic . . . quotidian

forlorn . . . contingent . . . ersatz

muddled . . . inchoate . . . intoxicating 

lucid . . . quentessential . . . fraught

Correct answer:

enrapturing . . . prosaic . . . quotidian

Explanation:

Based on the context, we can tell that the professor has some quality (first blank) that makes her able to transform some routines that are some description similar to "commonplace" (second blank) into a source of rich discussion. We also know that the third blank is some adjective qualifying "morning hygiene rituals," and that it probably contrasts with adjectives that would be used to describe something that would typically "reveal deep insights into human nature."

For the first blank, "enrapturing," meaning captivating, and "lucid," meaning clear, could both make sense. "Forlorn," meaning pitiful or hopeless, "muddled," meaning confused, and "opaque," meaning non-transparent, don't work well at all. This narrows our options to "enrapturing . . . prosaic . . . quotidian" and "lucid . . . quentessential . . . fraught." 

"Prosaic," meaning everyday, could clearly work as a qualifier of "routines." "Quintessential," meaning a good model or example of something, doesn't fit perfectly as a description of routine. Moving to the third blank, "quotidian," meaning everyday, definitely makes sense as a description of "morning hygiene rituals," whereas "ersatz," meaning substitute, does not. This leaves us with the correct answer, "enrapturing . . . prosaic . . . quotidian."

Example Question #2071 : Gre Verbal Reasoning

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

The man’s behavior at dinner was __________ and utterly lacking in __________. The other guests were surprised to see such a seemingly refined woman with someone so __________.

Possible Answers:

endearing . . . impropriety . . . enchanting 

assiduous . . . probation . . . intransigent

boorish . . . decorum . . . uncouth

laconic . . . scruples . . . resolute

crotchety . . . mores . . . urbane

Correct answer:

boorish . . . decorum . . . uncouth

Explanation:

Based on the second sentence, we know that the man is not refined, as the guests are surprised that a refined woman would be with him. It then becomes clear that his behavior at dinner was probably some negative quality, and that he was lacking some thing or quality that he should have.

Since we know the first blank is some negative quality, "boorish" meaning bad-mannered, and "crotchety," meaning grumpy, both could work. "Endearing," meanign generating affection toward someone or something, "assiduous," meaning diligent, and "laconic," meaning meaning saying very little, do not make sense. This leaves us with "boorish . . . decorum . . . uncouth" or "crotchety . . . mores . . . urbane." Moving to the second blank, it would make perfect sense that the man would be lacking "decorum," meaning propriety. It could also make sense that he might be lacking in "mores," meaning social customs

For the third blank, "uncouth," meaning crass, works perfectly as a counterpoint to "refined." "Urbane," meaning sophisticated, would not. As such, we are left with "boorish . . . decorum . . . uncouth."

Example Question #111 : Three Blank Texts

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

The __________ of the billionaire’s house was matched only by his __________. Many considered him to __________ generosity of spirit, and he was seen as a darling of the charity world.

Possible Answers:

grandeur . . . stinginess . . . revitalize

haughtiness . . . condescension . . . remunerate

lavishness . . . largesse . . . epitomize

veneer . . . clemency . . . flout 

magnanimity . . . ingénue . . . disparage

Correct answer:

lavishness . . . largesse . . . epitomize

Explanation:

Based on the fact that the billionaire is described as "a darling of the charity world," we can ascertain that the general tone of the sentence will probably be positive. 

For the first blank, "lavishness," meaning extravagance, and "grandeur," meaning splendor, both make sense as a description of the billionaire's house. "Veneer," meaning a thin exterior coating or false front, does not make sense at all. "Haughtiness," meaning arrogance, and "magnanimity," meaning generosity, could have some relevance given the sentence's subject matter, but do not make sense as a description of a house. This leaves us with a choice between "lavishness . . . largesse . . . epitomize" and "grandeur . . . stinginess . . . revitalize."

Characterizing the billionaire as having "largesse," meaning generosity in giving money, makes sense given the statement that he is a "darling of the charity world." However, "stinginess," meaning miserliness, clearly contrasts with this claim, and as such, does not work. At this point, we have narrowed down the correct answer by process of elimination; however, just to double check, we can look to the third blank. Here we see that it would make sense that he would "epitomize generosity of spirit," as "epitomize" means exemplify. We now have the correct answer: "lavishness . . . largesse . . . epitomize."

Example Question #111 : Three Blank Texts

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

While many had forgotten the memorial __________ in the town, the care with which Martha __________ and ___________ the statue revealed its true beauty.

Possible Answers:

font . . . improved . . . aspersed. 

hove . . . revamped . . . maligned 

allotment . . . desecrated . . . sullied.

menagerie . . . watched . . . nurtured 

edifice . . . maintained . . . restored 

Correct answer:

edifice . . . maintained . . . restored 

Explanation:

"Edifice" can be defined as a structure, "maintained" as sustained, and "restored" as repaired. All of the other answers do not fit the context of the sentence when used together.

Example Question #1 : Specific Questions Featuring The Except Structure

Recent advances in non-invasive human neuroimaging have provided researchers in the emerging field of social brain science with insights into the workings of consciousness and social cognition. Of special interest is the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), a region of the brain associated with memory, fear, and, perhaps, prejudice.

Fears create memories, and those memories appear to be stored in the amygdala. This same region also seems to create memories that counter those fears, though these memories are then stored in the MPFC. Neuroimages show that nerves from the MPFC project into the amygdala, providing the mechanism for suppressing the fear response. As one might expect, rodents with MPFC damage have a decreased ability to deal with certain fears.

MPFC activity also seems to correlate with self-referential judgments and memory. The dorsal MPFC in particular shows heightened activity during introspective mental activity. Interestingly, there is a reduction in ventral MPFC activity when individuals are involved in tasks that demand attention. This indicates that cognitive activity can decrease certain emotional processing. Other differences between these two areas of the MPFC have been noted. The ventral region becomes more engaged when an individual is shown photographs of strangers whose political beliefs—so the viewer is told—are similar to those of the person viewing the photograph, but the dorsal region becomes more active when the photographs are of individuals with whom the viewer does not share the same political perspective.

As long ago as the 19th century, scientists knew that damage to the MPFC interfered with social skills while leaving other mental skills untouched. With our newfound ability to actually observe mental activity in both healthy and impaired individuals without recourse to surgery, we have entered into an area that is sure to provide us with information about ourselves that will prove to be of enormous interest and great usefulness.

Which of the following does the author NOT mention as being an advantage of neuroimaging?

Possible Answers:

The connections between some parts of the brain are made apparent.

Greater insight as to how people perceive each other is made possible.

Researchers can better understand how people think about themselves.

Healthy individuals can be studied through simple surgical procedures.

Scientists do not have to rely on animals that have sustained injuries.

Correct answer:

Healthy individuals can be studied through simple surgical procedures.

Explanation:

Solution: "Healthy individuals can be studied through simple surgical procedures."

Imagine this question as a checklist. Find the advantages that the author does mention, and eliminate those answer choices. The advantage of neuroimaging is that it is “non-invasive.” Surgery is invasive. "Researchers can better understand how people think about themselves.": The 1st paragraph tells us of advances in “self-referential judgments and memory,” in other words, how we think about ourselves. "The connections between some parts of the brain are made apparent.": The links between the amygdala and MPFC are shown by “neuroimages” (2nd paragraph.) "Greater insight as to how people perceive each other is made possible.": The 3rd paragraph discusses changes in the brain that depend on who individuals are thinking about. "Scientists do not have to rely on animals that have sustained injuries.": Since neuroimaging is “non-invasive,” humans (and perhaps, animals) that have not sustained injuries can be studied.

Example Question #1 : Specific Questions Featuring The Except Structure

Recent advances in non-invasive human neuroimaging have provided researchers in the emerging field of social brain science with insights into the workings of consciousness and social cognition. Of special interest is the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), a region of the brain associated with memory, fear, and, perhaps, prejudice.

Fears create memories, and those memories appear to be stored in the amygdala. This same region also seems to create memories that counter those fears, though these memories are then stored in the MPFC. Neuroimages show that nerves from the MPFC project into the amygdala, providing the mechanism for suppressing the fear response. As one might expect, rodents with MPFC damage have a decreased ability to deal with certain fears.

MPFC activity also seems to correlate with self-referential judgments and memory. The dorsal MPFC in particular shows heightened activity during introspective mental activity. Interestingly, there is a reduction in ventral MPFC activity when individuals are involved in tasks that demand attention. This indicates that cognitive activity can decrease certain emotional processing. Other differences between these two areas of the MPFC have been noted. The ventral region becomes more engaged when an individual is shown photographs of strangers whose political beliefs—so the viewer is told—are similar to those of the person viewing the photograph, but the dorsal region becomes more active when the photographs are of individuals with whom the viewer does not share the same political perspective.

As long ago as the 19th century, scientists knew that damage to the MPFC interfered with social skills while leaving other mental skills untouched. With our newfound ability to actually observe mental activity in both healthy and impaired individuals without recourse to surgery, we have entered into an area that is sure to provide us with information about ourselves that will prove to be of enormous interest and great usefulness.

According to the passage, it is likely that the memories that allay fears are _______.

Possible Answers:

formed in the dorsal and ventral MPFC

affected by tasks that demand attention

created and stored in different parts of the brain

able to be manipulated in rats through neuroimaging procedures

related to memories that form prejudices

Correct answer:

created and stored in different parts of the brain

Explanation:

Solution: "created and stored in different parts of the brain"

Refer back to the passage to answer this Specific question. According to the 2nd paragraph, the amygdala “creates memories that counter those fears, though these memories are then stored in the MPFC.” "formed in the dorsal and ventral MPFC": No connection is made between specific regions of the MPFC and fears. "related to memories that form prejudices": No connection is made between prejudices and memories that allay fears. "able to be manipulated in rats through neuroimaging procedures": No mention of manipulating rats’ memories is made. Neuroimaging is used for viewing images, not manipulating memories. "affected by tasks that demand attention": Attention-demanding tasks are not mentioned in relation to fears.

 

 

Example Question #2 : Specific Questions Featuring The Except Structure

The phrase “alternative stable state” in ecology refers to the tendency of many ecosystems to have different, stable configurations of biotic and abiotic conditions across large time scales separated by what are called regime or phase shifts. Alternative stable state theory claims that instead of a forest transitioning slowly along a gradient toward a different stable state, that forest will reach a crucial tipping point (known as an ecological threshold) as deforestation occurs. Any change beyond this threshold will lead to a rapid change towards the second stable state of the biome in question, in this case a grassland.

Ecologists typically describe this theory with an analogy: Picture a set of three hills, between which are two valleys with a ball sitting in one of them that you want to push into the other. If you don’t push enough, the ball just rolls back down to where it started, but if you give the ball a big enough push, it will roll all the way into the valley on the other side of the hill. From there, it would require a similarly big push to get the ball back to where it started. Stable states are the valleys – where the balls want to stay if no outside forces are involved. However, if there is a big enough change in the environment to cause the ball to roll all the way up the hill to its highest point (the ecological threshold), the ball can be forced from one valley into another relatively quickly – this is a phase shift.

Until recently, most work discussing alternative stable states was theoretical – the idea of purposefully changing an environment to this extent was considered unthinkable – but several cases of confirmed alternative stable states have been reported. For example, disrupting the balance of phosphorous in a clearwater lake can lead to out-of-control phytoplankton blooms. Reducing this addition of phosphorous has so far not been an effective way of stopping the phytoplankton blooms, leading researchers to think that the ecosystem has been pushed into a new local equilibrium. This idea of hysteresis – that the state of an environment depends at least in part on its history and not just its current state – is at the core of many debates surrounding alternative stable state theory. However, whether most ecosystems that can exist under multiple stable states will readily convert between the two is still an open debate.

All of the following are discussed in the passage EXCEPT:

Possible Answers:

the importance of history in analyzing a particular environment

out-of-control phytoplankton blooms in a lake

the existence of multiple stable states for an ecosystem

the addition of phosphorous to a clearwater lake

stable ecological configurations across short time frames

Correct answer:

stable ecological configurations across short time frames

Explanation:

As with any “except” style specific question, you should go locate each of the incorrect answers and confirm their presence in the passage. The remaining choice will be the correct answer. The primary difficulty in this type of question usually comes from wordplay, so make sure you read each answer carefully to avoid accidentally misinterpreting one or more of them.

For "the importance of history in analyzing a particular environment", this can be found near the end of the last paragraph: “This idea of hysteresis – that the state of an environment depends at least in part on its history and not just its current state…” "the existence of multiple stable states for an ecosystem" can be found in multiple places but is most concretely stated in the last sentence: “However, whether most ecosystems that can exist under multiple stable states will readily convert between the two is still an open debate.” "out-of-control phytoplankton blooms in a lake" and "the addition of phosphorous to a clearwater lake" are easily found in the last paragraph with the following: “For example, disrupting the balance of phosphorous in a clearwater lake can lead to out-of-control phytoplankton blooms. Reducing this addition of phosphorous.” For "stable ecological configurations across short time frames", the correct answer, you must read carefully. “Stable ecological configurations” are indeed discussed in the passage but only over long time frames, not short time frames!

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