GRE Verbal : GRE Verbal Reasoning

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Verbal

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Example Questions

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

The __________ work of Isidore of Seville __________ all known topics of his era into a single text. It was named after his __________ methodology, which utilized grammar and history to explain the origins of the words listed in the tome.

Possible Answers:

intriguing . . . linked . . . philological

classic . . . recounted . . . questionable

impressive . . . undergirded . . . research

tenacious . . . investigated . . . habitual

exhaustive . . . collated . . . etymological 

Correct answer:

exhaustive . . . collated . . . etymological 

Explanation:

The final blank of this sentence is probably the best place to start with this question. The methodology described is that of using etymologies, which are the historical origins of a given word. (This was, in fact, the method followed by Isidore of Seville in his aptly named Etymologiae.) For the second blank, notice that the sentence says that the various topics were gathered brought "into a single text." The word that most quickly comes to mind is "gathered." While this is not an option, "collated" is, for it means to collect or gather together. It literally comes from the roots "col-," meaning with or together, and "-late," which here means to bring. (There is an etymology for you, too!) Such a work likely is comprehensive or, as is an option here, "exhaustive."

Example Question #31 : Text Completion

Although the stadium had been filled with a(n) __________ of voices and sounds, it was now stilled to a(n) __________. The people stood with mouths silent and __________ as the lightning struck multiple times on the field.

Possible Answers:

blather . . . whisper . . . teeming

cacophony . . . hush . . . agape

elation . . . murmur . . . horrified

crowd . . . din . . . amazed

mixture . . . mumble . . . kinetic

Correct answer:

cacophony . . . hush . . . agape

Explanation:

This whole sentence indicates that the stadium was filled with sound but then became "silent." It is key to note this word, for the stadium did not merely become quiet. Thus, options like "whisper," "murmur," and "mumble" are not acceptable for our purposes. If the people's mouths were silent, they were either closed or open without making a sound. To be "agape" is to be hanging open, often in amazement. This works well. To be "stilled to a hush" means to be brought to absolute silence. Finally, a "cacophony" is a loud and unpleasant mixture of sounds—a situation which seems to be well described regarding the initial state of the stadium.

Example Question #31 : Text Completion

The aged scholar was well known for his __________, having written __________ articles on many issues of cellular mutation from the most __________ of topics to large-scale, systemic investigations.

 

Possible Answers:

supremacy . . . numbing . . . applicable

influence . . . redundant . . . influential

erudition . . . innumerable . . . minute

brilliance . . . amazing . . . tedious

education . . . countless . . . intriguing

Correct answer:

erudition . . . innumerable . . . minute

Explanation:

The last blank of the sentence may be the simplest to fill in first. The scholar is known for writing on issues that are either large-scale or what seems to be contrasted to this, namely "small-scale." The word "minute" is not the same as the time measurement (i.e. minutes vs. hours). "Minute," in this context, means small. Thus, he wrote on minute, detailed topics as well as large-scale investigations. For such work, he was likely known for his vast learning and erudition. This does not mean he was known for his education or even his brilliance. "Erudition" describes having attained an impressive degree of learning and scholarship. Finally, we can guess that he has written many articles. (This is hinted at by the fact that he wrote "on many issues.") It is quite reasonable to describe these articles as being "innumerable."

Example Question #31 : Three Blank Texts

Often a person who is a mere __________ can appear to have a vast __________ of knowledge when he or she has a merely superficial grasp of __________ topics.

Possible Answers:

perjurer . . . assimilation . . . elementary

novice . . . collection . . . ordinary

greenhorn . . . repertoire . . . recurrent

charlatan . . . scholarship . . . trivial

dilettante . . . accumulation . . . sundry

Correct answer:

dilettante . . . accumulation . . . sundry

Explanation:

The options given for this question contain many tempting, but ultimately less correct, answers. A "novice" is someone who is new to a given field or position, as is a "greenhorn." A "charlatan" is someone who lies in claiming to have a given set of skills or knowledge. One could very easily convince oneself that these sets are correct; however, the best hint for the answer is the "superficial grasp." A "dilettante" is specifically a person who gathers together various forms of knowledge without any interest in going deeply into the details. We might call such a person a "dabbler." He or she would accumulate knowledge on a variety of topics. "Sundry" means of several kinds or, merely, various.

Example Question #32 : Three Blank Texts

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

Although many of its particular scientific facts are dated, the Physics of Aristotle retains a(n) ____________ worth for philosophical reflection. Its treatment of motion and change can help to ____________ any discussion as regards the general topics to be treated regarding the ____________ that we encounter in our everyday lives.

Possible Answers:

astonishing . . . alleviate . . . ontology

staggering . . . fortify . . . metaphysics

technical . . . temper . . . logic

pedagogical . . . elevate . . . philosophy

enduring . . . orient . . . mutability

Correct answer:

enduring . . . orient . . . mutability

Explanation:

Well, this is a somewhat strange sentence! Still, it is very approachable, so long as you pay attention to each clue. Note for the first blank that the sentence basically says that the Physics has a continuing worth, even though some of its facts are out of date. Thus, the worth endures or can be said to have an enduring worth. Now, for the second option, we are looking for something that expresses the idea of "giving a general direction." Whenever we get our "orientation", we get this general idea of the lay of the land. The word "orient" is derived from the Latin for east. Hence, getting your orientation could be understood as "finding East." This helps you to know your overall situation (indeed, all of the directions—North, South, East, and West). Finally, the last sentence really should only refer to something in the sentence.  It doesn't presuppose any philosophical knowledge on your part. Thus, if motion and change are the topics treated in the Physics, then it is safe to say that "mutability" is the best option for the third blank. This word is clearly related to words like "mutation" and "mutable," both of which deal with changes and alterations.

Example Question #1 : Reading Comprehension

Choose the word or word set which best completes the following sentence.

A routine visit to the doctor revealed a _________ tumor in Johnny's lungs, but fortunately the doctor determined that it was _________.

Possible Answers:

hidden . . . incorrigible

spurious . . . clinical

large . . . benign

fatal . . . incurable

obtrusive . . . indicative

Correct answer:

large . . . benign

Explanation:

A "large" tumor seems to be a horrible thing, but if the doctor determines it to be "benign", that is a fortunate. None of the other answer match the logic or emotional tenor of the sentence.

Example Question #1 : Drawing Conclusions And Making Inferences In Multiple Answer Questions

Passage adapted from H.G Wells' Anticipations (1901)

Democracy of the modern type—manhood suffrage and so forth—became a conspicuous phenomenon in the world only in the closing decades of the eighteenth century. Its genesis is so intimately connected with the first expansion of the productive element in the State, through mechanism and a co-operative organization, as to point at once to a causative connection. The more closely one looks into the social and political life of the eighteenth century the more plausible becomes this view. New and potentially influential social factors had begun to appear—the organizing manufacturer, the intelligent worker, the skilled tenant, and the urban abyss, and the traditions of the old land-owning non-progressive aristocratic monarchy that prevailed in Christendom, rendered it incapable—without some destructive shock or convulsion—of any re-organization to incorporate or control these new factors. In the case of the British Empire an additional stress was created by the incapacity of the formal government to assimilate the developing civilization of the American colonies. Everywhere there were new elements, not as yet clearly analyzed or defined, arising as mechanism arose; everywhere the old traditional government and social system, defined and analyzed all too well, appeared increasingly obstructive, irrational, and feeble in its attempts to include and direct these new powers.

But now comes a point to which I am inclined to attach very great importance. The new powers were as yet shapeless. It was not the conflict of a new organization with the old. It was the preliminary dwarfing and deliquescence of the mature old beside the embryonic mass of the new. It was impossible then—it is, I believe, only beginning to be possible now—to estimate the proportions, possibilities, and inter-relations of the new social orders out of which a social organization has still to be built in the coming years. No formula of definite reconstruction had been evolved, or has even been evolved yet, after a hundred years. And these swelling inchoate new powers, whose very birth condition was the crippling, modification, or destruction of the old order, were almost forced to formulate their proceedings for a time, therefore, in general affirmative propositions that were really in effect not affirmative propositions at all, but propositions of repudiation and denial. "These kings and nobles and people privileged in relation to obsolescent functions cannot manage our affairs"—that was evident enough, that was the really essential question at that time, and since no other effectual substitute appeared ready made, the working doctrine of the infallible judgment of humanity in the gross, as distinguished from the quite indisputable incapacity of sample individuals, became, in spite of its inherent absurdity, a convenient and acceptable working hypothesis.

Which of the following is a likely conclusion that could be drawn from Wells' remarks?

A. The newly emerging society eventually would look quite like mob rule.

B. The new forms of government would collapse under their absurd forms.

C. There would likely be widespread repudiation of the new forms of government.

Possible Answers:

A and C

B

A

A, B, and C

A and B

Correct answer:

A

Explanation:

The point of Wells' last sentence is that most of the new forms of government did not have a centrally intelligible organizational structure or ideal. Their governing democratic ideal presupposed that mankind, taken as a whole, was able to judge correctly, even if some individuals did not. This type of governmental organization could well lead to mob rule by the largest group of people agreeing. Thus, option A is acceptable. We can really infer nothing of its potential collapse (B) or its potential wholesale repudiation (C). B is likely most tempting, given Wells' negative assessment of this presupposition—its "inherent absurdity". As a general rule, do not go beyond what you can most directly say about a passage.

Example Question #2 : Reading Comprehension

Passage adapted from John Dewey's "The Need for a Recovery of Philosophy" (1915)

Intellectual advance occurs in two ways. At times increase of knowledge is organized about old conceptions, while these are expanded, elaborated and refined, but not seriously revised, much less abandoned. At other times, the increase of knowledge demands qualitative rather than quantitative change; alteration, not addition. Men's minds grow cold to their former intellectual concerns; ideas that were burning fade; interests that were urgent seem remote. Men face in another direction; their older perplexities are unreal; considerations passed over as negligible loom up. Former problems may not have been solved, but they no longer press for solutions.

Philosophy is no exception to the rule. But it is unusually conservative--not, necessarily, in proffering solutions, but in clinging to problems. It has been so allied with theology and theological morals as representatives of men's chief interests, that radical alteration has been shocking. Men's activities took a decidedly new turn, for example, in the seventeenth century, and it seems as if philosophy, under the lead of thinkers like Bacon and Descartes, was to execute an about-face. But, in spite of the ferment, it turned out that many of the older problems were but translated from Latin into the vernacular or into the new terminology furnished by science.

The association of philosophy with academic teaching has reinforced this intrinsic conservatism. Scholastic philosophy persisted in universities after men's thoughts outside of the walls of colleges had moved in other directions. In the last hundred years intellectual advances of science and politics have in like fashion been crystallized into material of instruction and now resist further change. I would not say that the spirit of teaching is hostile to that of liberal inquiry, but a philosophy which exists largely as something to be taught rather than wholly as something to be reflected upon is conducive to discussion of views held by others rather than to immediate response. Philosophy when taught inevitably magnifies the history of past thought, and leads professional philosophers to approach their subject-matter through its formulation in received systems. It tends, also, to emphasize points upon which men have divided into schools, for these lend themselves to retrospective definition and elaboration. Consequently, philosophical discussion is likely to be a dressing out of antithetical traditions, where criticism of one view is thought to afford proof of the truth of its opposite (as if formulation of views guaranteed logical exclusives). Direct preoccupation with contemporary difficulties is left to literature and politics.

Which of the following might Dewey recommend, based on the remarks in the selection above:

A. A repudiation of concern with philosophical questions.

B. The reorientation of philosophical questions asked by thinkers.

C. The end of the professional teaching of philosophy.

Possible Answers:

C

B

A, B, and C

A and C

B and C

Correct answer:

B and C

Explanation:

In the essay, Dewey does not seem to indicate that philosophy as such is a problem. Therefore, he is unlikely to call for a complete repudiation of philosophical questioning (A). He does, however think that the teaching of philosophy has distorted philosophical thinking. Therefore, it is not unlikely that he could call for the reorientation of philosophical questions, turning from the older and more "conservative" sorts of questions that are asked in scholastic / academic environments. Hence, B is one correct answer. It is possible, at least based upon this selection, to think that Dewey could call for the end of the professional teaching of philosophy. As he says, "The association of philosophy with academic teaching has reinforced this intrinsic conservatism." Thus, it is possible that he would wish—for the very sake of saving philosophy—to call for an end to all professional teaching of philosophy.

Example Question #7 : Reading Comprehension

Passage adapted from John Dewey's "The Need for a Recovery of Philosophy" (1915)

Intellectual advance occurs in two ways. At times increase of knowledge is organized about old conceptions, while these are expanded, elaborated and refined, but not seriously revised, much less abandoned. At other times, the increase of knowledge demands qualitative rather than quantitative change; alteration, not addition. Men's minds grow cold to their former intellectual concerns; ideas that were burning fade; interests that were urgent seem remote. Men face in another direction; their older perplexities are unreal; considerations passed over as negligible loom up. Former problems may not have been solved, but they no longer press for solutions.

Philosophy is no exception to the rule. But it is unusually conservative--not, necessarily, in proffering solutions, but in clinging to problems. It has been so allied with theology and theological morals as representatives of men's chief interests, that radical alteration has been shocking. Men's activities took a decidedly new turn, for example, in the seventeenth century, and it seems as if philosophy, under the lead of thinkers like Bacon and Descartes, was to execute an about-face. But, in spite of the ferment, it turned out that many of the older problems were but translated from Latin into the vernacular or into the new terminology furnished by science.

The association of philosophy with academic teaching has reinforced this intrinsic conservatism. Scholastic philosophy persisted in universities after men's thoughts outside of the walls of colleges had moved in other directions. In the last hundred years intellectual advances of science and politics have in like fashion been crystallized into material of instruction and now resist further change. I would not say that the spirit of teaching is hostile to that of liberal inquiry, but a philosophy which exists largely as something to be taught rather than wholly as something to be reflected upon is conducive to discussion of views held by others rather than to immediate response. Philosophy when taught inevitably magnifies the history of past thought, and leads professional philosophers to approach their subject-matter through its formulation in received systems. It tends, also, to emphasize points upon which men have divided into schools, for these lend themselves to retrospective definition and elaboration. Consequently, philosophical discussion is likely to be a dressing out of antithetical traditions, where criticism of one view is thought to afford proof of the truth of its opposite (as if formulation of views guaranteed logical exclusives). Direct preoccupation with contemporary difficulties is left to literature and politics.

If Dewey's remarks are correct, which of the following likely describes the situation at a University at his time?

A. Philosophy departments are stifling all questioning about new problems expressed on campus.

B. The most radical members of a campus are members of other departments, like sociology, anthropology, and literature.

C. There is little that is culturally beneficial coming out of the work of the philosophy departments.

Possible Answers:

B and C

C

A, B, and C

A

A and C

Correct answer:

B and C

Explanation:

The first answer can be immediately eliminated, as we do not know anything about how the philosophy faculties are treating other faculties on campuses. Therefore, we should not choose this (even if it does seem that they would be rather likely to do this, given Dewey's description of the current situation).

Answer choice C is most obviously correct. At the very end of the selection, Dewey says, "Direct preoccupation with contemporary difficulties is left to literature and politics." If "contemporary difficulties" are being dealt with outside of philosophy departments, it would seem that very little that is culturally beneficial is being done in those departments. By the same token, it is at least arguable that more radical members of a campus would be in departments like sociology, anthropology, and literature. Dewey implies this regarding literature in the same sentence. For our purposes, it is safe enough to think that departments like sociology and anthropology are also like this.

Example Question #8 : Reading Comprehension

Passage adapted from John Dewey's "The Need for a Recovery of Philosophy" (1915)

Intellectual advance occurs in two ways. At times increase of knowledge is organized about old conceptions, while these are expanded, elaborated and refined, but not seriously revised, much less abandoned. At other times, the increase of knowledge demands qualitative rather than quantitative change; alteration, not addition. Men's minds grow cold to their former intellectual concerns; ideas that were burning fade; interests that were urgent seem remote. Men face in another direction; their older perplexities are unreal; considerations passed over as negligible loom up. Former problems may not have been solved, but they no longer press for solutions.

Philosophy is no exception to the rule. But it is unusually conservative--not, necessarily, in proffering solutions, but in clinging to problems. It has been so allied with theology and theological morals as representatives of men's chief interests, that radical alteration has been shocking. Men's activities took a decidedly new turn, for example, in the seventeenth century, and it seems as if philosophy, under the lead of thinkers like Bacon and Descartes, was to execute an about-face. But, in spite of the ferment, it turned out that many of the older problems were but translated from Latin into the vernacular or into the new terminology furnished by science.

The association of philosophy with academic teaching has reinforced this intrinsic conservatism. Scholastic philosophy persisted in universities after men's thoughts outside of the walls of colleges had moved in other directions. In the last hundred years intellectual advances of science and politics have in like fashion been crystallized into material of instruction and now resist further change. I would not say that the spirit of teaching is hostile to that of liberal inquiry, but a philosophy which exists largely as something to be taught rather than wholly as something to be reflected upon is conducive to discussion of views held by others rather than to immediate response. Philosophy when taught inevitably magnifies the history of past thought, and leads professional philosophers to approach their subject-matter through its formulation in received systems. It tends, also, to emphasize points upon which men have divided into schools, for these lend themselves to retrospective definition and elaboration. Consequently, philosophical discussion is likely to be a dressing out of antithetical traditions, where criticism of one view is thought to afford proof of the truth of its opposite (as if formulation of views guaranteed logical exclusives). Direct preoccupation with contemporary difficulties is left to literature and politics.

Which of the following express Dewey's overall contention adequately?

A. Theology has exerted too much influence on the development of philosophy.

B. At certain rare moments in history, philosophy nearly made a radical break with its past forms of expression.

C. Philosophy is susceptible to its own particular impediments to development.

Possible Answers:

A

B and C

A, B, and C

C

B

Correct answer:

C

Explanation:

In a way, almost all of these answers are correct; however, you must answer exactly what is asked, namely, what is Dewey's overall contention. Therefore, you cannot provide any answer that might just be a detail. On the whole, this selection shows Dewey arguing that philosophy has its own particular way of being conservative—especially as regards its manner of being taught. This is the general contention. The other two options are indeed in the essay; however, they are merely supporting details, part of his overall argument.

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