GRE Verbal : GRE Verbal Reasoning

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #12 : Text Completion

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

Everyone was surprised when the corporal, normally a __________ woman, not only spoke up in the meeting, but had the __________ to tell the five-star general to his face that his last order had been __________, issued in the heat of the moment without first considering later repercussions.

Possible Answers:

obsequious . . . volatility . . . banal

garrulous . . . sagacity . . . meticulous

taciturn . . . audacity . . . impetuous

reticent . . . dogmatism . . . sanctioned

laconic . . . presumption . . . pragmatic

Correct answer:

taciturn . . . audacity . . . impetuous

Explanation:

We know that "everyone was surprised" that the corporal "spoke up in the meeting," so for the first blank, we need an adjective that describes her normally quiet personality. Possible options include "taciturn," "laconic," and "reticent." For the second blank, we need a noun that describes the corporal critiquing the general. Of our remaining choices—"audacity," "presumption," and "dogmatism"—the first two choices fit the bill. For the last blank, we know that the general's order was given without much forethought, and need an adjective that describes this. Between "impetuous" (acting or done thoughtlessly or carelessly) and "pragmatic," (dealing with things practically and seriously) "impetuous" is the clear choice, making the answer to the question "taciturn . . . audacious . . . impetuous."

Example Question #13 : Parts Of Speech In Three Blank Texts

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

Frances believed that the meeting was __________; a __________ of factors enabled her and her new partner to finish the project with great __________, unexpectedly finishing three weeks ahead of schedule.

Possible Answers:

tedious . . . predestination . . . concomitance

fawning . . . congeries . . . amazement

planned . . . dissipation . . . sagacity

florid . . . vector . . . turgidity

providential . . . constellation . . . celerity

Correct answer:

providential . . . constellation . . . celerity

Explanation:

The easiest blank for this question is the final one. Since Frances finished ahead of schedule, she was able to work with speed. "Celerity" means speed in moving and functions well in this sentence as well. It is related to "accelerate," which means to increase speed. This seems to have been an unexpected meeting with positive outcomes. Such fortuitous events are often called "providential" from the older theological notion of divine foreknowledge and ordering of the world. This meeting led to a gathering of helpful factors. Such a gathering is called a "constellation"—just like the stars that are gathered together. (Indeed, "constellation" leterally means stars that are together. See the root "-stella-" found in "stellar".)

Example Question #2 : Nouns And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Three Blank Texts

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

Harvey believed that it was a __________ maxim that one should listen to one’s __________, for all such people were not merely geriatric products of a former age but were indeed the __________ heirs of much experience.

Possible Answers:

dubious . . . seniors . . . belligerent

proverbial . . . superiors . . . famous

universal . . . elders . . . sagacious

placating . . . agents . . . appreciable

pedantic . . . subordinates . . . forgers

Correct answer:

universal . . . elders . . . sagacious

Explanation:

The best two clues in this sentence are "all" and "geriatric." The latter adjective describes people who are elderly. (Think of a "geriatric nurse" who cares for the elderly.) Thus, the people in question are "elders." This is slightly better than "seniors." Also, "seniors" is paired with words that do not work for this sentence. Since "all" such people are experienced, it is understandable that Harvey believed that they were universally (or everywhere and by everyone) believed to be worthy of being heard. Finally, be the recipients of experience would make one wise. To be "sagacious" is to have such wisdom. (Think of the related word "sage," meaning a wise person.)

Example Question #1 : Nouns And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Three Blank Texts

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

The new scientific __________ presented a complete __________, accounting even for the most __________ details in addition to many macroscopic phenomena, though the final certainty of the system remained to be determined.

Possible Answers:

invention . . . solution . . . intricate

inquest . . . schematization . . . staggering

theory . . . ontology . . . minute

discovery . . . scope . . . distant

undertaking . . . outline . . . jejune

Correct answer:

theory . . . ontology . . . minute

Explanation:

The easiest blank in this question is the final one. There is a contrast between "macroscopic" and the third blank. Phenomena that are "macroscopic" are large enough to be seen with the unaided eye—with no instruments. In contrast to this, something "minute" is small—like miniature or the prefix "mini-." (Note, the word is pronounced "my-noot." This might help you to memorize it and not confuse it with the measurement of time, "minute.") 

The first blank is relatively easy to fill in as well. Since the "final certainty of the system remained to be determined," this meant that the scientific discovery was not complete. A "theory" is a conjectural explanation, not necessarily complete. This is the best first choice. Finally, since this theory attempts to provide all of the details of the world—from top to bottom (or, better, from little to big)—it provides a complete "ontology"—that is, a complete theory of "being."

Example Question #11 : Three Blank Texts

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

Even though many small towns are at most fifty miles from __________ centers of city life, they can be quite __________, often lacking even general __________ for the cultural offerings found in such lively cities.

Possible Answers:

vibrant . . . insular . . . appreciation

heinous . . . hackneyed . . . regard

redundant . . . fatuous . . . awareness

aesthetic . . . acculturated . . . plasticity

redoubtable . . . remarkable . . . mediation

Correct answer:

vibrant . . . insular . . . appreciation

Explanation:

The first blank is perhaps the most easily completed. It uses the adjective "lively" as its main clue. The only really tempting wrong answer would be "aesthetic," meaning dealing with or pertaining to the arts; however, that is a bit too specific for the general remark about "cultural offerings." Therefore, since we know that the cities are "lively," we can also say that they are "vibrant." The small towns seem to lack appreciation for these sorts of matters—hence, the third blank's answer. To have such a lack of appreciation implies a lack of culture. For this, the word "insular" works well, for it means isolated and disinterested in new cultural knowledge. It comes from the Latin for "island." Insular people are like people on an island away from the rest of the world.

Example Question #31 : Gre Verbal Reasoning

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

After experiencing a(n) __________, the new believer can often act as a(n) __________, seeking out new converts with great __________.

Possible Answers:

revival . . . promoter . . . fastidiousness

conversion . . . proselytizer . . . zeal

sermon . . . preacher . . . concern

revelation . . . intermediary . . . alacrity

deconstruction . . . aggressor . . . abhorrence

Correct answer:

conversion . . . proselytizer . . . zeal

Explanation:

The best clues in this sentence are "new believer" and "seeking out new converts." The latter helps us to find the second blank. A "proselyte" is a new convert to a religion, and a "proselytizer" is someone who looks for such new converts. Likewise, since the believer is new, we can guess that he or she has experienced a conversion—meaning that he or she has "turned" from a former way of life to a new way of life in the given religion or group. (The "-vers-" portion of the word comes from the Latin for "to turn." It is found in words like "reverse" and "adverse.") Finally, such a person will do such conversion work with great ambition and energy. To be "zealous" is to act in such a manner. The word is related to the word "jealous"—and jealousy does indeed often lead to great zeal!

Example Question #21 : Three Blank Texts

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

Herman's __________ personality was quite amazing in contrast to his sister, who was quite __________.  Every social event was __________ with the sound of her voice, which seemed to fill the room with its prolix stream.

Possible Answers:

verbose . . . taciturn . . . redolent

laconic . . . loquacious . . . inundated

metaphorical . . . direct . . . punctuated

contumacious . . . talkative . . . overwhelmed

morose . . . joyous . . . ebullient

Correct answer:

laconic . . . loquacious . . . inundated

Explanation:

The best initial clue for this sentence is the description "prolix stream." The word "prolix" means, in short, wordy. It comes from roots that are related to "liquid"—as though the words are flowing. Therefore, all we know is that Herman's sister is very talkative. "Loquacious" means this. The word is related to "colloquy," "elocution," and "eloquent"—all words pertaining to speech. The option containing "talkative" does not work because "contumacious" means inflexibly disobedient. This is not a good contrast to "loquacious"; however, "laconic" is, for it means terse or pithy, or in other words, not using many words. Finally, to "inundate" something is to overwhelm it. The word comes from roots that mean "flood" or "wave." (An "undulating" motion is one that is in a wave-like pattern.) The room was filled and overwhelmed by Herman's sister's voice because she was so talkative!

Example Question #32 : Gre Verbal Reasoning

Due to his previous problems with alcoholism, Steve voluntarily joined a(n) __________ program to help with his __________ addiction, but he was unable to resist temptation and eventually succumbed to a(n) __________ lifestyle.

Possible Answers:

Hostile . . . Remorseful . . . Objective 

Superficial . . . Deleterious . . . Abstemious

Obsolete . . . Underwhelming . . . Homogenous

Abstinence . . . Unremitting . . . Bacchanal

Clandestine . . . Garrulous . . . Subjective 

Correct answer:

Abstinence . . . Unremitting . . . Bacchanal

Explanation:

You are told in the sentence that Steve has had problems with alcoholism, it would therefore make sense for him to join an "abstinence" program. "Abstinence" means the act of restraining from participating in something addictive or harmful, particularly drugs or alcohol. An adjective that might reasonably be used to describe an addiction is "unremitting." This word means incessant, ceaseless and constant. Finally, you are told that Steve fails to stick to his program of abstinence and succumbs to a certain lifestyle. Because it is likely to be a lifestyle associated with drunken behavior the correct answer choice is "bacchanal." To provide additional help, "superficial" means not important, not real; "deleterious" means harmful; "abstemious" means abstaining from something, not participating in something enjoyable; "hostile" means aggressive; "remorseful" means feeling bad or sorry for some past wrong; "objective" means based on fact, not biased; "subjective" means based on opinion, biased; "obsolete" means outdated, no longer useful; "homogenous" means the same as, similar; "clandestine" means secretive; "garrulous" means talkative

Example Question #32 : Gre Verbal Reasoning

The woman's __________ demeanor was further highlighted by the utter __________ of her husband, creating a(n) __________ for the "opposites attract" theory.

Possible Answers:

Eccentric . . . Banality . . . Archetype

Envious . . . Modesty . . . Invective

Gregarious . . . Cowardice . . . Anachronism

Haughty . . . Humility . . . Mockery

Languid . . . Lethargy . . . Prototype

Correct answer:

Eccentric . . . Banality . . . Archetype

Explanation:

From the clues given in the sentence it is hard to tell whether the evidence provided by the comparison of the wife and the husband will prove or disprove the “opposites attract” theory, but you know that the husband and wife are being compared in some way to prove some further point; therefore, to solve this problem you have to see which answer choices fit with this format. If the wife were “eccentric” (interesting, unconventional and extraordinary) and the husband was defined by his “banality” (lack of originality, boringness) it would make sense for the two of them to act as an “archetype” (a typical example of something) for the theory that opposites attract. To provide additional help, “haughty” means arrogant, bold; “humility” means possessing modesty and being humble; “mockery” means make fun of; “gregarious” means outgoing, sociable; “cowardice” means fear, not being brave; “anachronism” means something that does not fit in the time period; “languid” and “lethargy” both refer to having no energy or motivation; “prototype” means an original example of something; “envious” means jealous; “modesty” means humility, or the quality of being unassuming; “invective” means abuse.

Example Question #22 : Three Blank Texts

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

Scientists often sound like they can only speak __________, for their __________, specialized expressions are all but unintelligible to the __________.

Possible Answers:

jargon . . . cryptic . . . laity

academically . . . scholarly . . . public

legalistically . . . judgmental . . . students

rapidly . . . scandalous . . . neophytes

verbosely . . . distinguished . . . masses

Correct answer:

jargon . . . cryptic . . . laity

Explanation:

The best beginning clue for this question is the fact that the scientists are described as being "all but unintelligible." This means that they are basically completely unintelligible to those who do not understand their language. "Jargon" is a system of terms that are used in a profession but are very difficult to understand for those who are outside of the profession. The term "laity" is often used in religion to describe those who are not part of the clergy; however, it can also mean non-professional people as well. Therefore, this is a good contrast to the jargon-laden scientists described in the sentence. Finally, such language is difficult to understand. Something that is "cryptic" is obscure in this manner.

Note that while "academically . . . scholarly . . . public" could also be correct, the best answer is the one whose words more specifically reference their unintelligibility. While "acadmic" and "scholarly" work is often obscure and hard to understand this is not an inherent part of their definitions as words.

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