GRE Verbal Diagnostic Test Prep

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1) In interviews, despots are often surprisingly ___________; this helps to explain how seemingly awful people are able to command so many followers.

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Because you are told that something explains how awful people command so many followers, you need a positive word in the blank. While both forgiving and munificent (meaning “generous”) are positive, neither of them make much sense. Personable, meaning “pleasant in appearance and manner,” fits best.

2) The thriving health food company sells __________ meat products so meat-like that vegetarians sometimes call the phone number on the box to make sure that the product is really animal-free.

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It is clear from “vegetarians” and “animal-free” that the meat products are fake, or ersatz. Note the many trap answers: mendacious (lying), nugatory (without value), mimetic (copying), and clandestine (hidden), all of which are inappropriate to describe fake meat.

3) The successful tech company faces an ironic problem in the fall quarter; people are so excited about the next (i) ________ of its product, which will be released over the holidays, that they refuse to purchase the (ii) _________ version.

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This sentence is clearly comparing two “versions” of a product. For the first blank, you need a synonym of “version,” such as iteration. For the second blank, you’re contrasting something to the “next iteration,” which would be the previous one. Current works well here (and obsolete is too judgmental; it’s not obsolete yet!).

4) Newborn babies are perfectly (i) _____________, as yet unable to be concerned for others, or even to understand a difference between themselves and the world around them. As young children mature, they make the (ii) ______________ discovery that other people exist and have their own needs and desires — in other words, that the entire world is not about them.

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Solipsism is literally the theory that only the self exists or can be known to exist (solipsistic is sometimes used a bit figuratively to mean “really selfish”). For the second blank, the “discovery” in question is that the entire world is not about them. That’s a pretty earth-shaking discovery for someone who thought otherwise! Arresting gets this across. Note the trap answer selfish, which is related to the overall meaning of the sentence but does not describe the “discovery.”

5) Historically, arguments against women’s suffrage (i) ___________ from the claim that women would cancel out their husbands’ votes to the charge that women would merely (ii) ___________ their husbands’ preferences, thus making their votes redundant. Such arguments, while once convincing, today seem (iii) __________ indeed.

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In the first blank, you need something that means “ranged.” Your clue is the two very different beliefs described — that women’s votes would be the opposite of their husbands’, or that the votes would be the same and therefore “redundant.” Ran the gamut gets this across (much like the expression “from A to Z”). In the second blank, ape means “mimic” or “copy.” In the third blank, you need something that goes against “convincing.” Shabby means “old and worn-out.” It can describe clothes or furniture, but is often used metaphorically (such as in the expression “not too shabby,” which can describe any job well-done). None of the other choices oppose convincing.

6) His theory purported that “proper” enjoyment of art was a matter of pure aesthetics — it is surely, he says, a baser pleasure being enjoyed by the untrained (i) _________, the museum “tourist” with (ii) _________ sensibilities, and even the art theorists and art historians who simply appreciate cultural referents or narratives in art, a predilection he thinks leads to (iii) _________ view of any art that includes such elements.

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The theory being described is a theory of incredible snobbery! First of all, the person described thinks that there is a “proper” enjoyment of art (and, presumably, an improper one as well). He thinks that untrained people viewing art enjoy only “baser pleasures,” and calls other people “museum tourists.” In the first blank, hoi-polloi matches the idea of common people, the masses. Regarding the museum “tourist,” parochial matches the idea of ordinary, low-class, unsophisticated. Similarly, the art theorists and art historians are thought to have a facile, or overly simple, view. The theorist seems to think that only aesthetic (relating to beauty) elements should matter; the theorists and historians he disdains are those who like “cultural referents or narratives” — that is, recognizable themes or figures, or stories.

Question 7 is based on the following reading passage. During an economic depression, it is common for food prices to increase even as incomes decrease. Surprisingly, however, researchers determined that during a depression, for every 5 percent increase in the cost of bread, the lowest socioeconomic class actually increases the amount of bread purchased per capita by 3 percent. 7) Which of the following hypotheses best accounts for the researchers’ findings?

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This “reading comprehension” question is really a logic question. Such questions typically consist of a single paragraph with one question. First, analyze the argument: During a depression, it is normal for food prices to increase at the same time that incomes decrease. Logically, this would make it more difficult for people to afford the same food that they used to purchase prior to the depression. A study showed a surprising result, however: when the cost of bread went up during a depression, the poorest people actually bought more bread. Note that the argument doesn’t say merely that more money is spent on bread; that would be expected if the price increased. The argument says that the actual amount of bread purchased increased. The correct answer will explain why people would buy more bread even though the cost has gone up and incomes have declined. While choice (A) is likely true in the real world, it does not explain why people buy more bread when the cost of bread has increased and incomes have declined. Choice (B) is an example of faulty logic. It is true that the cost increase is a higher percentage than the consumption increase, but this does not mean that people are consuming less bread and therefore need to eat other things to compensate. In fact, the opposite is true: the argument explicitly states that people are buying more bread than they were! (C) is tempting because it talks about people spending a “larger” proportion of income on food — but “proportion” is a value relative only to the person’s income level. It does not indicate that the person is spending more money on something. More importantly, though, this choice does not answer the question asked. Correct choice (D), in contrast, provides a reason why an increase in the cost of one food item might cause people to consume more of that item despite a loss of income: other food items are even more expensive and are, thus, much less affordable. The people still need some amount of food to survive, so they purchase more of the food item that does not cost as much money. This accounts for the researchers’ findings. Even if (E) were true (and this would be difficult if incomes are decreasing), it would not explain why people buy more bread at a time when the bread costs more and incomes are declining.

Question 8 is based on the following reading passage: Bedbug infestations have been a problem in major cities for years. The pesticide DDT has been found to be useful in killing bedbugs. However, DDT was banned in the United States and has been replaced by weaker pesticides. Thus, there is no effective means for eradicating bedbugs in the United States. 8) Which of the following, if true, most weakens the conclusion?

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This is a logic question that asks you to weaken an argument. The author cites a problem, bedbugs, and a pesticide that is effective in killing them is no longer available for use. Thus, the author claims, there is no effective means to kill the bedbugs in the United States. The problem here is that the author makes a very large jump between the best method no longer being an option and there being no effective method. Finding something that attacks this assumption would be a good way to weaken the argument. Regarding choice (A), the behaviors of bedbugs have nothing to do with the ability to eradicate them. Choice (B) does not specify how bedbugs were eradicated in other parts of the world. It is possible that all successful eradications elsewhere relied on DDT. Correct choice (C) opens up the possibility that there might be an approved means to eradicate the dreaded bedbug in the United States. It also calls the author’s conclusion about there being no effective means in the United States into question. Choice (D), though largely out of scope, might be viewed as strengthening the author’s conclusion, as it points to more evidence that existing pesticides are not effective on bedbugs. However, eliminating one possibility is not the same as eliminating all possibilities, which is what the author does in the conclusion. As for choice (E), the number of infestations has nothing to do with the ability to eliminate bedbugs in the United States.

9) The main point of the passage is to:

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After describing Flavin’s work, the author places it in context to another work in the second paragraph, then goes on to discuss its effect on the definitions of a type of art. (A) is a distortion as “superiority” is not mentioned. (B), if anything, is backwards, as the author seems to approve of the broadening. Choices (D) and (E) ignore the significant part of the passage that discusses the broadening of definitions.

10) According to the passage, both “diagonal” works could best be described as:

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Both works are said to be set at 45 degree angles (thus, “at a particular slope,” which incidentally would happen to be 1 or -1). Choices (A), (B), and (C) are only explicitly mentioned in connection with alternate diagonals. (E) is incorrect, as the concept of the works is not discussed; furthermore, the author writes that Alternate diagonals seems almost more of an evolution of the former work than a response to it. If the second work is an “evolution,” the two works cannot be “identical.”

11) The author’s tone could best be described as:

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The passage teems with positive words — “visually arresting,” “vivacity,” “intriguing,” to name just a few— and this indicates the author is biased in favor of the works. Thus, the neutral aspect of choices (C), (D), and (E) is incorrect. As for (B), fawning has a negative connotation and is an inappropriate attitude for a GRE author

12) The passage implies which of the following?

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- Choice (C) must be true as the author cites Bottle Rack as an example of the extreme end of the ready-made spectrum, and contrasts it with a type of “infinitely more manipulated” work. As for (A), the passage only mentions such conventional work in passing and does not predict its future. The passage does not rank Flavin (B), nor does it explain why he disliked the word sculpture for his works (D). Similarly, the passage only suggests that Flavin’s work is in the center, not that such location is a virtue — the “best art work,” as in choice (E).

Select the two answer choices that, when used to complete the sentence, fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole and produce completed sentences that are alike in meaning. 13) Many young employees actively seek out mentors, but when managers attempt to mentor young employees who have not sought out mentoring, the help often comes across as presumptuous and _____________.

Please select 2 correct answers

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The blank describes “help” offered by managers to young employees who do not want help. Furthermore, the help is “presumptuous.” Giving arrogant, unwanted help is patronizing or condescending. Note that baneful and noxious are similar to each other, but much too negative.

Select the two answer choices that, when used to complete the sentence, fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole and produce completed sentences that are alike in meaning. 14) In previous decades, it was simply assumed that fathers of young children would work full-time and at the same intensity as they did before becoming parents, but today, increasing numbers of men — wanting to further their careers but also wanting to spend time with their children — are more ______________ about this arrangement.

Please select 2 correct answers

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Since the men described want to further their careers but also spend time with their children, their feelings about the traditional working arrangement are mixed or complex. Ambivalent and equivocal match the idea of mixed feelings. Note trap answer ambiguous, which means “unclear,” and is more appropriate for describing a situation or statement than a person.

Select the two answer choices that, when used to complete the sentence, fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole and produce completed sentences that are alike in meaning. 15) The slipstream is a partial vacuum created in the wake of a moving vehicle that allows for “drafting,” whereby a racecar can __________ another by taking advantage of reduced wind resistance.

Please select 2 correct answers

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The slipstream allows a racecar to take advantage of “reduced wind resistance,” which means the trailing car would likely go faster than the car in front of it. You need a word like pass. Supersede may look the part, but it’s actually a figurative word, like supplant (e.g., I was supplanted by younger workers at my job.) Only outstrip and overtake carry the literal meaning of “physically passing something.”

Select the two answer choices that, when used to complete the sentence, fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole and produce completed sentences that are alike in meaning. 16) While the celebration of the artist’s work was pure paean — nothing but plaudits and tributes — many of those in the art world feel that an acknowledgment of the artist’s _________ would help to humanize the artist and make the art more accessible.

Please select 2 correct answers

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“Paean” is praise, as are “plaudits and tributes.” You are told that the celebration was “pure” praise. The pivot word while tells you that the rest of the sentence should go in the opposite direction. Acknowledging flaws and mistakes — that is, foibles and peccadilloes — can indeed help to humanize an artist.

17) The passage cites all of the following as reasons for the inclusion of operatic elements into the rock music genre in the 1970’s EXCEPT:

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While it is true that Pink Floyd’s dramatic staging served to promote its album, this is not a reason for the inclusion of operatic elements into the rock music genre in the 1970’s. It is an example, not a cause. (A) is incorrect because you are told that PA systems (a type of concert equipment) changed; (C) is incorrect because you are told that concept albums contained “narrative” themes; (D) is incorrect because you are told that rock songs were less appropriate for radio play, and (E) is incorrect because you are told that the larger concerts encouraged artists to craft concerts that diverged from the merely musical toward the experiential.

18) In the context of the passage, the word effected (line 3) most nearly means:

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The passage tells you about several phenomena occurring in the 1970’s that were in part responsible for the incorporation of operatic elements into the rock music lexicon. These factors thus helped to “bring about,” or effect, this change. Don’t get confused by influenced, one synonym of which is “affected.”

Consider each of the answer choices separately and indicate all that apply 19) It can be inferred from the passage that

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Sowell wrote that the CRA was far from being as benign as it appeared. Thus, the CRA appeared benign, or innocuous, at least to some. You are told that HUD exerted pressure on lenders, which led to practices that later caused those same lenders to be assailed as “predatory.” Thus, HUD had the ability to affect banking practices. Finally, Sowell argued that the idea “that government officials were qualified to tell banks how to lend” was a “flawed assumption.” Since Sowell argues that government officials were not necessarily qualified, it follows that he thinks that such qualifications, or prerequisites, exist.

20) Which of the following can be inferred about discriminatory credit practices?

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You are told that discriminatory credit practices existed in low-income neighborhoods. Do not assume that there is a linear relationship wherein such practices occur most in low-income neighborhoods, less in middleincome neighborhoods, and least in high-income neighborhoods. Maybe such practices exist only in low-income neighborhoods. This choice is out of scope. The second choice is also out of scope — you have no way to know what legislators were thinking or feeling when they voted for the CRA. You do have good proof for the third statement — since some argue that pressure on lenders from HUD led to practices that later caused those same lenders to be assailed as “predatory,” you can safely conclude that some critics think that attempts to combat discriminatory credit practices (passing the CRA and enforcing it through HUD) can have unintended consequences — in this case, replacing a lack of lending with predatory lending

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