How to Attack Tough GRE Text Completions

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Let’s look at a harder Text Completions problem!

The simplicity of the theory—its main attraction is also its (i) _____, for only by (ii) _____the assumptions of the theory is it possible to explain the most recent observations made by researchers.

A liability.. accepting

B virtue.. qualifying

C downfall.. considering

D glory.. rejecting

E undoing.. supplementing

For Text Completions, remember that strategically we want to break down the original sentence and fill in the blanks with our own words/phrases prior to looking at the answer choices. The reason to do this isn’t ONLY in the hopes that the correct answer will perfectly match our prediction (although that’s always nice when it happens!), but we want to spend more time noticing the specific keywords in the sentence.

This is because usually the difference between the correct answer in TC and the 2nd best choice, is that the correct answer’s words fit the context of the original sentence/s just a little bit better.

The reason most people pick the “2nd best” choice, is because they didn’t spend enough time looking at that context. Now of course we don’t want to spend 5 min staring at this sentence, but you will know that your Text Completion strategy is weak if you don’t write anything down when you read the sentence/s and just try to do it all in your head.

So, for this one, let’s look at what we’re given. I’m going to bold some of the words that really stand out to me:

The simplicity of the theory—its main attraction is also its (i) _____, for only by (ii) _____the assumptions of the theory is it possible to explain the most recent observations made by researchers.

The author says this theory has “simplicity.” What does that mean? Well, it’s not complex. There’s some sort of simple explanation for it. He goes on to say that the “attraction” of the theory is also something else. “Attraction” is a positive word, so the 1st blank could be something positive as well, or something negative. Let’s look at how those meanings might sound:

The theory’s main attraction is also its SUPER POSITIVE THING.

or

The theory’s main attraction is also its SUPER NEGATIVE THING.

The 2nd meaning is more likely, because perhaps by “simplicity” the author means “irony.” That the main attractive quality of the theory is also it’s Achilles’ heel?

So, for the first blank, I am going to predict words like that:

(i) Achilles’ heel, downfall, thing that repels people

At this point, if you were struggling to predict for the 2nd blank, you would still be able to eliminate answer choices (B) and (D), since “virtue” and “glory” are positive things.

But let’s push ourselves to predict for the 2nd blank as much as can!

The simplicity of the theory—its main attraction is also its NEGATIVE THING, for only by (ii) _____the assumptions of the theory is it possible to explain the most recent observations made by researchers.

The phrase “for only” implies that the 2nd part will explain how its main attractive is also negative. “Assumptions” are a negative thing. We don’t like to make assumptions about people!

Let’s try out a positive word, a neutral word, and a negative word here:

  1. for only by BELIEVING (+) the assumptions of the theory is it possible to explain the most recent observations

  2. for only by PROVIDING (neutral) the assumptions of the theory is it possible to explain the most recent observations

  3. for only by IGNORING (-) the assumptions of the theory is it possible to explain the most recent observations

Since “possible to explain” is a positive thing, it makes the most sense that we would want something overall negative here. Words like “believing” don’t really make sense in context.

So, let’s go back to (A), (C), and (E) are look for something that shows we need to show those assumptions are negative.

(A) accept the assumptions

(C) considering the assumptions (this is pretty neutral) …we’re missing that sense of irony

(E) supplementing the assumptions

Therefore, (E) has to be the correct answer.

Reading it back, the meaning is:

People like the theory because it is SIMPLE, but that is also its UNDOING, because we have to ADD TO IT (SUPPLEMENT) to make it work!