GRE Test Prep Book: Practice Tests + Quizzes + Strategies
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Before we tackle more hard-level questions, make sure you’ve already gone through the three key strategies for sentence equivalence (SE) questions that we covered in an earlier post. (Also, if you have unknowingly stumbled upon this post independently, we advise backtracking and going through all four preceding parts of this entire series on hard SE questions.)

In the previous post, we ended with a very tricky (and somewhat convoluted) SE question. Let’s start by taking a look at that:

Historians have postulated that the poet resisted publishing these poems in her lifetime not because she was disgruntled with them, but because publication was aligned with print, whose normalizing tendencies she knew would ___________ her minute literary inflexions.

A) misconceive

B) miscarry

C) garble

D) redact

E) deflect

F) trivialize

When confronted with long, convoluted sentences, always start by eliminating superfluous information (indicated by strikethrough), highlighting keywords (in green) and breaking down the sentence into digestible bits:

Historians have postulated that the poet resisted publishing these poems in her lifetime not because she was disgruntled with them, but because publication was aligned with print, whose normalizing tendencies she knew would ___________ her minute literary inflexions.

So

1. The poet resisted publishing/print because of its normalizing tendencies.
2. These normalizing tendencies would have had a certain negative impact on her work, because—
3. Her work contained minute literary inflexions.
4. Thus, it is likely that print would somehow fail to correctly present these little nuances.

Let’s take a look at our options and check for easy eliminations:

A) misconceive (possible to fit into sentence context—keep)

B) miscarry (possible to fit into sentence context—keep)

C) garble (possible to fit into sentence context—keep)

D) retract (not sure of meaning/possible to fit into sentence context—keep)

E) deflect (means “to cause a change in direction”, as in deflect the bullet, not possible to fit into sentence context—eliminate)

F) trivialize (possible to fit into sentence context—keep)

Sadly, we have only managed to eliminate one word.

But don’t be discouraged! Examine your choices carefully and systematically.

1. Concentrate on words that you are familiar with: other than possibly redact, the rest of the words should not be completely foreign to you. Let’s start by looking at the differences between them and spotting potential pairs.

Misconceive comes from conceive, so you can infer that it means understanding something in an erroneous way.

Miscarry might not be a word you see that often outside of its usual context (i.e. miscarrying a child). However, you can infer its meaning: if to miscarry a child is to be unable to bring it to term, then to miscarry something is to fail to allow it to attain its intended outcome or fruition of some sort. [note: distinct from misconceive]

Garble might remind you of “jumble” or “muddle”: if a telephone message is distorted due to poor reception, then it can sound garbled to you. But garble can also refer to the deliberate distortion of a message, resulting in an inaccurate or confusing product. [note: distinct from misconceive, potential pair with miscarry]

Trivialize is a familiar word, which refers to playing down the importance of something. [note: distinct from all three words above]

2. If no clear pairs emerge, make your best guess for the difficult word: if you are unfamiliar with both tendentious and censorious, then you will have to make your most educated guess as to which pairs up with critical, or if both words pair up with each other.

Given that censorious seems most likely to be taken from the root word censor, we could advance a guess that the adjective refers to a tendency to censor, judge, criticize.

If tendentious has anything to do with tendency, then the adjective might refer to a predisposition, or an inclination towards a certain belief or value.

Hence your best guess at this stage would be critical and censorious; tendentious could work in the sentence context, but it does not pair up with the other two words.

Our guess, and indeed the correct answers: C (critical) and E (censorious).

(P.S. tendentious means expressing or intending to promote a certain cause or belief, while censorious means severely critical.)

If you benefitted from the above exercise, why not try solving the following very tricky question?

Historians have postulated that the poet resisted publishing these poems in her lifetime not because she was disgruntled with them, but because publication was aligned with print, whose normalizing tendencies she knew would ___________ her minute literary inflexions.

A) misconceive

B) miscarry

C) garble

D) redact

E) deflect

F) trivialize