GRE Prep: Hard-level Text Completion Questions (Part 2)

GRE Prep: Hard-level Text Completion Questions (Part 2)

Before we tackle some hard-level questions, let’s recap the three key strategies for text completion (TC) questions that we covered in the previous post.

First, get the gist of the passage by paying attention to the writer’s tone (approving or disapproving?) and following the development of the subject (what are the keywords?). Second, use simple words to paraphrase the question and complete the passage. Remember to tackle the simplest blanks first. Third, re-read the entire question for overall coherence and logic. This will allow you to check if the options fit the sentence context.

With these in mind, let us now direct our attention to the hard-level sentence that concluded our previous post.


By the time Joséphin Péladan died in 1918, he was already regarded as ____________ semblance of a bygone era. Except for theorists of Symbolism, everyone seemed to treat his legacy as a monumental _______________; even today, literary theorists hardly know him even though he, like other mystics of his time, _______________ prepared the ground for what was to become the modernist revolution of the twentieth century.

Blank 1:

A) an estimable

B) an absurd

C) a major

Blank 2:

A) apogee

B) achievement

C) farce

Blank 3:

A) improbably

B) undisputedly

C) dubitably

The keywords even today give us a clue about the attitude that people in the past had towards Péladan. Given that he is still almost unknown even today, he would similarly have been treated trivially in the past; this means that he cannot be a “major” or “estimable” (worthy of great respect) semblance. The first blank should therefore be absurd.

This helps us fill in the second blank: if he were seen as an absurd semblance, then it is likely that his legacy was treated as a farce (an absurd event or occurrence); “apogee” (culmination, the highest point) and “achievement” would not have worked logically.

To fill in the last blank, note the shift in the paragraph with the phrase even though; this signals to us that his actual contribution was not in line with the lack of recognition he had. In other words, he made contributions that cannot be denied. The only word that fits into this logic is undisputedly (unquestionably); a quick re-reading of the passage would reveal that “dubitably” (questionably) and “improbably” would not have supported the logic.

The correct options are B (absurd), C (farce) and B (undisputedly).

Now moving on to a 2-blank hard-level question:

The recent measure of censorship has been criticized for being ___________ rather than self-assured, ___________ rather than sensible: it does nothing more than disparage companies that allow the digital scene to thrive.

Blank 1:

A) impetuous

B) pernicious

C) hubristic

Blank 2:

A) jejune

B) circumspect

C) assiduous


The sentence structure (zero in on obvious key phrases such as rather than) makes it easy to understand the kind of words needed in those blanks: the first must contrast “self-assured” and the second must contrast “sensible,” and collectively these adjectives lead to undesirable consequences.

Since “pernicious” (harmful) and “impetuous” (hasty) do not provide clear contrasts to “self-assured,” the correct option for the first blank is hubristic (excessively proud or self-confident). The same logic is applied to the second blank: “circumspect” (wary) and “assiduous” (showing care and perseverance) do not oppose “sensible,” so the best option is jejune (immature).

The correct options are C (hubristic) and A (jejune).

And now for a final 1-blank question:

The author’s message was sober and pessimistic: without an unlikely transformation in social, political and economic circumstances, it is ___________ to believe that the tide of cultural homogenization can be stemmed.

A) peremptory

B) ingenuous

C) imminent

D) felicitous

E) circumspect

Begin by understanding the logic of the sentence and rephrasing it more simply: unless there are changes in the various societal circumstances, it is unlikely that cultural homogenization can be stemmed (this fits in with sober and pessimistic); given that those changes are unlikely, believing that the homogenization can be stemmed is probably immature, short-sighted or unanalytical.

The only word that approximates this meaning is ingenuous, which means guileless or naïve. The remaining words “peremptory” (insisting on immediate action), “imminent” (about to happen), “felicitous” (well chosen, suited to the circumstances) and “circumspect” (wary) have meanings distinct from the required definition criteria. A quick re-reading of the question will reveal that the correct option is actually not very hard to choose as long as you understand the sentence logic.

The correct option is B (ingenuous).

To work on more hard-level TC questions, click here.