Conquer Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence Questions on the GRE - dummies

Conquer Text Completion and Sentence Equivalence Questions on the GRE

By Ron Woldoff, Joseph Kraynak

Whether you’re faced with Text Completion or Sentence Equivalence questions on the GRE, your battle plan is the same: Attack each question with confidence. Hesitation and doubt can waste time and make you talk yourself out of the right answer. Instead, use this three-step strategy:

  1. Read and interpret the sentence without looking at the answer choices.

  2. Fill the blanks with your own words.

  3. Eliminate answer choices that don’t match your words.

While interpreting the sentence, don’t look at the answer choices! Each puzzling answer choice not only completes the sentence but also gives the sentence a very different meaning. Trying out answer choices before interpreting the sentence turns an easy question into a hard one and shifts your focus away from the sentence itself.

The following example illustrates the different meanings that a sentence can convey, using different words in the blanks. If you first try out all the answer choices, it becomes impossible to tell what the sentence is actually saying, so they’re not shown here yet.

Here is the example question:

Having been coerced by his kids into seeing The LEGO Movie, Andy was (i) _____, although the movie surprisingly turned out to be (ii) _____.

First, interpret what the sentence is trying to say. The word although in the middle of the sentence tells you that the two phrases have different meanings — that the words in those blanks should be opposite, or close to it.

Ask yourself the following questions: Was Andy eager or reluctant? Was The LEGO Movie surprisingly lame or good? That he needed coercion tells you that Andy didn’t want to go, so he was reluctant, and he probably expected the movie to bomb. Then he was surprised, so the movie was probably pretty good. This is how you tell what the sentence is trying to say.

The next step is to think of your own words to fill in the blanks. Your words don’t have to be perfect — you’re not writing the sentence — but they do have to support the meaning of the sentence and, by extension, the meanings of the missing words themselves. By using this technique, you know exactly what to look for and can eliminate some answer choices.

Having been coerced by his kids into seeing The LEGO Movie, Andy was reluctant, although the movie surprisingly turned out to be, well . . . awesome.

The last step is to look at the answer choices. Now that you know what the sentence is saying, the right answers are obvious.

Here’s the example question again, this time with the answer choices provided.

Directions: For each blank, select one entry from the corresponding column of choices. Fill all blanks in the way that best completes the text.

Here’s the example:

Having been coerced by his kids into seeing The LEGO Movie, Andy was (i) _____, although the movie surprisingly turned out to be (ii) _____.

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Compare the answer choices, one at a time, to the words you already came up with on your own (reluctant and awesome). Cross thrilled and excited off the first list, because they have nothing to do with reluctant. Similarly, lousy and subpar are far from awesome. The correct answers are Choices (C), hesitant, and (F), a blast, which both match your predictions and make sense when you read the sentence.