GRE Text Completion Tips

Text Completion questions are designed to further test your ability to understand what you read. They will also test your vocabulary, particularly your ability to apply sophisticated vocabulary in context. You will be asked to read a short passage of 1-5 sentences. There will be 1-3 blanks in the passage where a crucial word is missing. You will need to fill in each blank using several options provided.

All Text Completion questions will be in multiple choice format. Each passage will have 1-3 blanks, and you will be given several options to choose from to fill in the blanks. Generally, passages with only one blank will have five options to choose from, while those with 2-3 blanks will have only three options per blank.

What does a Text Completion question look like?

Text Completion questions will always be based off a short passage of one or more sentences. The passage will have 1-3 blanks. You will be asked to read the passage and get a feel of what words will best complete it using several options given. Below are examples of what Text Completion questions will look like on the GRE revised General Test.

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

1. Harry’ s ________ performance on the project both failed to impress his superiors and helped to lose the company an important client.

a) rapacious
b) desultory
c) indomitable
d) arcane
e) indefatigable

2. While far from the bane that some scholars have declared them to be, _________ versions of novels and essay do indeed excise essential elements; students would have to supplement their reading with ________sources to fully understand the intent of the original.

Blank IBlank II
a) Annotated     a) Complementary
b) Abridged b) Complimentary
c) Antedatedc) Compelling

3. If the candidate’ s speech was intended to stir up _______ feelings, he must have been solely disappointed by the almost ________ effect it had on the audience. Although it was refreshing to see a politician _________ inflammatory taglines in favor of reasoned argument, his speech was simply too long to hold the audience’ s attention.

Blank IBlank IIBlank III
a) Rancorous    a) Incendiarya) Eschew
b) Partisan    b) Noxious b) Preclude
c) Indigenous  c) Soporificc) Abhor

Answer key

1 Desultory
2 (i) Abridged (ii) Complementary
3 (i) Partisan (ii) soporific (iii) eschew

Text Completion Tips

In the first place, the passages used for Text Completion questions will generally be much shorter than those used for Reading Comprehension questions. This means that it will take you less time to carefully read a passage for a Text Completion. Moreover, Text completion questions are much more focused, and to answer them effectively, you may need to grasp subtle aspects of sentence structure.
When answering Text Completion questions, one of the key skills you will need is the ability to grasp the overall meaning of the passage even with certain words missing.
One of the key strategy while answering text completion question is to read the text completely to grasp the overall meaning of the passage. After doing this you will have an idea which the easiest blank is. Starting with the easiest blank first, fill all the blanks with a word of your own before you look at the answer options. Don’ t try to plug-in the answer choices because most of the times answer choices are smartly constructed. After filling the blank with a word of your own look for the closest synonym of the word out of options. If you are unsure of what some of the options mean and cannot identify closest synonym, try to eliminate words with opposite meanings to your own word.

Don’ t commit the mistake of filling the blank as you read. You have to read the entire passage and grasp the overall meaning of the passage first.

After reading the text completely. Don’ t assume that you should always fill in the first blank first. Always fill the easiest blank with a word of your own first. For some questions, it is difficult to fill in one blank without first correctly filling in another blank.

Often there are overt indications of which word will best complete the passage; either the word you need to complete the passage will be essentially defined in another clause, or the context will strongly suggest that you use a word with the opposite meaning to what has already been said. These contextual indicators are quite valuable, so keep a close eye out for them.
Be especially alert for words like “although” and “despite”. Also keep an eye out for words like “therefore”, “moreover” and “thus” which suggest summation or additional support for points that have already been made.
Always re-read the passage with the answer(s) you have selected and filled in to see whether the passage is grammatical and makes sense with the options you have chosen. Even if your choice seemed right, if it does not produce a coherent, grammatically correct passage, it is n’ t the correct answer.

GRE Text Completion

Sample Questions

Q 1) Ms. Llewellyn is known to gently ___________ students who do not do their homework, but because of her generally amiable demeanor, she refuses to punish anyone, and seldom even raises her voice.

a) Pillory
b) Detest
c) Malign
d) Penalize
e) chide

Ans 1) The sentence describes what the teacher “gently” does to “students who do not do their homework”. Her demeanor is generally amiable to punish them, so the blank must contain something like lightly criticize or “chide”.
Malign or Pillory means to criticize, it is impossible to gently “detest” or “pillory” them. “detest” means to loathe or hate.
Demeanor means person’s behavior or outward manner. Seldom means “almost never”.

Q 2) Far too ________ to consider a career in the political limelight, the unassuming aide contented herself with a career behind the scenes, ________ supporting the political heavyweights of her day.

a) Pillory
b) Detest
c) Malign
d) Penalize
e) chide

Ans 2) “Diffident” means lacking confident. “Apathetic” means showing no emotion or having no feeling. “implicit” means suggested but not stated directly. It has second meaning also. “implicit” means something stated directly without any doubt. “skeptical” means having or expressing doubt about something (such as a claim or statement).
“unassuming” means shy or not having or showing a desire to be noticed, praised etc. The initial “Far too” indicates that the first blank will oppose “limelight” (an old theatrical expression meaning to be in the spotlight) and agree with “unassuming” (Shy).
“Diffident” (shy or reserved) is a good match and is also a clue for the second blank, which must match the first one; “quietly” is the best choice.
She is supporting the political heavyweights of her day. Because of shyness, she does not want her to be in limelight. Focus is on her “shyness” and “diffidence”. Therefore, quietly is the best choice. “Implicitly”, “Skeptically” do not make sense.


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