GRE Sample Questions: Text Completion

By Ron Woldoff, Joseph Kraynak

A Text Completion question on the GRE consists of a sentence or paragraph with one, two, or three blank spaces for a missing word or words. Your job is to choose the most suitable word or words to fill in the blanks in the sentence. Here are a few examples for you to try.

Sample questions

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

  1. Enabled by his (i) ________ and unimpeded by any sense of (ii) ________, Henry reached the end of the Ironman Triathlon.


  2. Although dismayed by the pejorative comments made about her inappropriate dress at the diplomatic function, Judy (i) ________ her tears and showed only the most calm and (ii) ________ visage to her critics.


  3. There are those writers who carp and (i) ________ about the depressed state of our economy. However, many people insist that such writers don’t speak for the common man (or woman) who believes in the (ii) ________ of the nation and the (iii) ________ of its future.


Answers and explanations

  1. Correct answers: Choices (C) and (D).

    What’s one thing that helps and another that hinders a triathlete? Strength and fatigue are good choices. In the first column, you can rule out knowhow. Either of the remaining words, appetite (in the sense of desire) and stamina, could fit, but stamina is more closely related to strength. In the second blank, you look for a word like fatigue, and weariness is clearly the closest match.

  2. The correct answers are Choices (A) and (F).

    If Judy had a calm and (something) visage (a form of the word vision; a countenance, or facial expression), the (something) must go hand in hand with calm. Although the second word doesn’t have to be an exact synonym, it can’t be an antonym, either. Look for a word that means calm. Placid means calm and tranquil, as you may know from the root plac, meaning peace (as in placate). Check the remaining two choices in the second column: Incensed means upset, burning mad (think of burning incense); articulate means well-spoken. Her visage (or facial expression) wouldn’t be well-spoken, although Judy herself may be, so cross off articulate. Placid is therefore best for the second word, so now find something suitable for the first word. Monitoring or succumbing to (giving in to) her tears is unlikely to make Judy appear calm and placid, but suppressing her tears will.

  3. Correct answers are Choices (B), (D), and (H).

    Try to predict the words that fit into the blanks. Here, you can predict that the first word must be something bad (because the writers are carping, or griping, about a depressed economy). The word however cues you that the next two words are going to be more optimistic. In the first column, look for a word with a negative connotation; neither laud (to praise, as in applaud) nor ponder (as in wonder) meet that requirement. Only grouse (meaning to complain or grumble) fits with carp. In the second column, you can rule out chaos (confusion and disorganization), because it’s not positive, and generosity (charitableness), because that’s not necessarily going to help turn around a depressed economy. Resilience (the ability to recover) is the best choice there. As for the third word, lampoon means to ridicule (think of the satirical magazine National Lampoon), and morbidity (desperation) conveys a very negative tone, so you can eliminate those choices and choose security, which describes a positive state for a future.