Answer Explanations

Level A


Sentence Completion Exercise 1

   1. (C) If Washington political circles had been aware for a week that the Cabinet member was on the way out, his resignation did not come as a shock or surprise to them.

   2. (D) Because the heavy rains had made their original route impracticable or impassable, the leaders decided to alter their route.

   3. (B) The key phrase “as if it were a laboratory specimen” signals you that excessive literary analysis is analogous to the dissecting or cutting apart of animals and plants done in a biology lab.

   4. (E) Customs generally arise because they serve a function. In this case, the division of labor by gender probably came about because it promoted or furthered the interests of the family and in this way was a sensible cooperative strategy.

   5. (C) Silk possesses qualities invaluable in nest building. Therefore birds incorporate or introduce silk into their nests, including it as a component.

   6. (C) Because no one had ever rebuked or reprimanded the recruit so harshly, the sergeant’s words particularly stung or smarted.

   7. (C) The earlier writers differ from this writer in being reticent (reserved) and conventional.

   8. (D) A report that constantly interpreted things to reflect badly on or discredit someone would clearly be unfriendly or hostile to that person.

   9. (C) There remained in Foster, who had not grown up fully, a trace (small bit; hint) of the undergraduate; he was clever but in some ways immature.

10. (E) Although she felt contempt (scorn) for the world of money and opinion and power, she nevertheless desired or yearned for the fame that only that world could give.

11. (D) If you are excessively careful about what you say, you are not likely to be spontaneous or free in your choice of words.

12. (B) A layperson or nonexpert by definition lacks the training to appreciate or recognize the importance of fossils and ancient artifacts.

13. (D) It would be extremely hard to be unaffected or unmoved by truly mesmerizing, enchanting art.

14. (A) Anthropologists attempt to determine (discover; learn) the origins of the fossils they find.

15. (A) If the therapy has been shown to work in dogs (animals larger than rodents), then its efficacy or effectiveness in larger animals has been proven.

16. (A) To mute or muffle the noise inside a car should make a trip in the car quieter.

17. (D) Neither her father’s admonition (warning or counsel) nor her classmates’ cool (unsociable; distant) reception stopped Cleeves from following her chosen path.

18. (B) To derail someone from his course is to throw him off track.

19. (D) By definition, a maverick (dissenter; nonconformist) is someone who takes a stand that differs from that of his or her associates.

20. (B) Comte coined (invented; created) a term to denote (stand for; mean) the concept of unselfishness.

Sentence Completion Exercise 2

   1. (B) If we manage to destroy the environment, we will be well on the way to extinction as a species.

   2. (C) “Even though” children cannot influence affairs in the usual ways, thanks to Edelman’s work they are nevertheless not ignored.

   3. (E) A campaign that breaks new ground is by definition innovative.

   4. (D) Both an outstanding sense of timing and a mastery of the law would be helpful to an attorney.

   5. (A) The goal of the project is to make Woolf’s work more accessible or available to scholars.

   6. (A) The entangling threads that slow down the victim’s escape vibrate from the prey’s struggles. These vibrations alert (warn; inform) the spider that something is trapped in its web.

   7. (C) In poking through the subject’s private papers, the biographer invades the subject’s privacy.

   8. (D) If the babies drink so much fruit juice that they do not get the varied nourishment they need, then drinking large amounts of juice could be detrimental (harmful) to them.

   9. (E) An epic or account of heroic exploits by definition narrates the mighty struggles of a central character or protagonist.

10. (C) If it is so amazing that good poems ever get written, there must be many ways to ruin poems.

11. (C) The musk oxen declined or grew fewer in number because the herds were devastated (destroyed; ravaged) by hunters.

12. (D) Just as the limbs of a tree branch off from the trunk, the major arteries branch off from the aorta.

13. (C) Someone who looks on human virtues as less worthy than canine virtues clearly views people in general with contempt (scorn).

14. (D) The dumbfounded neuroanatomist disbelieved Diamond’s work. Skeptical of the results of her experiments, he maintained that a rat’s brain could not increase or grow.

15. (C) Though he maintained that he did not care (protested his indifference), Judge Hand was disappointed that he had not been nominated to the Supreme Court.

16. (C) Someone consistently hopeful is by definition an optimist.

17. (C) In an arid, extremely dry land, wildlife needs access to water.

18. (D) One would expect that a liberal political movement advocating freedom would favor less authority, not more. However, Trilling asserts that, paradoxically, contrary to expectations, liberalism must move in the direction of increasing control.

19. (B) The contrast here is between the extremes of euphoria (elation) and gloom (melancholy; depression).

20. (C) By definition, to lead a lewd or wanton life is to be dissipated (corrupted by sensuality; self-indulgent).

Sentence Completion Exercise 3

   1. (E) Though most people disregarded or made fun of her book, some appreciated it (admired it; grasped its worth).

   2. (E) If the critics all say the opera’s score has both praiseworthy and wretched sections, then they agree that the score varies in quality. In other words, it is uneven.

   3. (C) Someone who plans everything in advance is not spontaneous.

   4. (B) Our almost-human ancestors did not become extinct. Instead, they survived.

   5. (A) The marketing experts have divided or carved up the mass (whole) audience into segments.

   6. (E) Like an overinflated balloon, aneurysms burst.

   7. (C) Critics attribute the delay to unexpected problems, a common cause of slowdowns.

   8. (A) A hotshot is someone conspicuously talented and successful. Many lawyers are not legal hotshots. They are ill prepared and they lack professional skills.

   9. (C) Scientists continue to test hypotheses against experience, verifying them or establishing their accuracy by keeping on making observations.

10. (C) To supersede or replace a learned, scholarly biography, this new life of Gaskell must be a very good book. In other words, it must be a considerable accomplishment or achievement for the author.

11. (C) After Boccherini’s death, the composer’s reputation fell into a decline, or weakened. It has not yet recovered or improved enough to satisfy the writer of this sentence.

12. (B) Because he had emphasized his scandal-free, virtuous reputation, Hosokawa could not withstand or successfully resist the notoriety (ill fame) of being connected with a scandal.

13. (B) It is paradoxical (incongruous; puzzlingly contradictory) that a civilized center should have been the site of horribly uncivilized, inhumane acts.

14. (D) The sentence serves to define the term illness.

15. (A) If Schlesinger laments or mourns the state of biography, then he is unhappy about the gossipy new biographies currently on sale. Thus, he deplores (disapproves of) them.

16. (D) The waitress handled the bottle nonchalantly or casually, without undue concern.

17. (C) To begin to appear in prominent, responsible positions is to emerge from obscurity or anonymity into the public view.

18. (E) If the crisis will not affect us for years, then by definition it is not imminent (immediately looming; near).

19. (D) A charlatan falsely pretends to know more than he actually does. When Dorothy finds out that the Wizard does not know how to get her home, she thinks he has duped or made a fool of her.

20. (C) Healing waters are by definition therapeutic (curative).

Sentence Completion Exercise 4

   1. (D) To revoke a license is to cancel it, to make it void.

   2. (D) A curious child is by definition inquisitive.

   3. (E) Since many scholars helped to put together the survey, it was a collective (combined; cooperative) effort, not an individual one.

   4. (C) A fair solution is by definition equitable or just.

   5. (C) It is physically impossible for most living creatures to walk on water. Thus, by running across the surface of water, the basilisk seems to defy or challenge the laws of physics.

   6. (D) Passive, inactive people tend to observe rather than to act.

   7. (B) Keynes was not immobilized. Instead, he was energized or invigorated.

   8. (C) The telling of tales is by definition narrative.

   9. (B) An enthusiastic, spirited response would be likely to please or gratify a speaker.

10. (EAdvances or new developments in science would make it necessary to revise the book.

11. (D) Someone lying half asleep in a hot tub is clearly relaxed.

12. (C) Plants that do not survive shrivel (wither) and die.

13. (B) To fabricate events is to make them up, to invent them. Dali’s tendency to make things up makes it hard for biographers to portray his life with accuracy.

14. (A) Many people accepted and liked Earhart (“her fame was unusually widespread and her popularity long-lived”). However, not everyone did: her acceptance was not universal.

15. (B) His belief in individual faith contrasts with his doubts (skepticism) about the organized church.

16. (DTheses is the plural form of thesis, which here means theory or contention. The details are disconnected; no overarching or encompassing theories bring them together or unify them.

17. (E) If global warming poses a threat to all life on Earth, then by definition it is not a peripheral (marginal; minor) issue.

18. (E) Radicals tend to believe that old customs are nonsense and that change is always a good idea. This author thinks it would be good for radicals to rethink their beliefs. They need to realize that old customs are not always worthless and that change can sometimes be a bad idea (beinadvisable).

19. (A) Though Eliot was personally reticent (reserved; uncommunicative about himself), he was realistic enough to assume that his private papers someday would be read.

20. (A) To be fidgety by definition is to exhibit or be marked by impatience.

Level B


Sentence Completion Exercise 1

   1. (B) People on the cutting edge—at the forefront of a new movement—are likely to be innovative.

   2. (C) Wittgenstein’s comment is a rule to which good historians should adhere or stick. It says, “If you don’t know anything about a subject, you can’t say anything about it.” In other words, write about what you know.

   3. (B) If only a few of her allies stood by her, she must have alienated or estranged all the others.

   4. (A) A soporific effect by definition puts people to sleep, causing them to nod off.

   5. (C) The papers rank as (have the status or position of) the most impressive statements of American political philosophy.

   6. (E) Someone who has improvidently squandered his money without thinking about the future would regret his prodigal, wasteful ways.

   7. (CDigressive remarks that wander from the topic may make us forget the gist or main point of what’s being said.

   8. (B) Allende’s book is based on or rooted in actual Chilean history.

   9. (E) If they plan on selling ad space, their motivations in making the donation are at least partially financial and not solely charitable or philanthropic.

10. (B) Blackmun’s voice stood out from the featureless mix of the other Justices’ voices: it was an individual, personal voice.

11. (C) It is somewhat of an understatement for Gaddis to describe himself as never having been in a rush to get into print. At a rate of one book every 10 years, he’s been markedly slow to publish.

12. (CPrecarious means uncertain in prospects; risky. Acting as a career certainly is that.

13. (D) Montana was unintimidating: he did not frighten or overawe those who met him.

14. (D) In Sand’s time, for a woman to take lovers or wear men’s clothes was a shocking departure from convention (usual social custom).

15. (C) The speaker is not resigned or reconciled to her death. Instead, he is inconsolable (heartbroken; unable to be comforted or consoled).

16. (C) The Chinese artists have been clever. They have made canny (shrewd) use of Western styles.

17. (D) One would expect the use of outmoded, archaic vocabulary and twisted, tortuous phrasing to make a poem unintelligible. However, contrary to expectations, the poet’s argument is intelligible.

18. (B) By definition, an experience that splits a nation into factions or conflicting groups is divisive (dissension creating).

19. (C) Traumas or major shocks can lead to aberrations or abnormalities of behavior in survivors.

20. (C) Someone intellectually fecund (fertile; prolific) is bursting with ideas. Clearly, this productive novelist is at the height of her powers.

Sentence Completion Exercise 2

   1. (D) The writers who are not negative about the past look on it positively, even nostalgically (sentimentally, with a sense of wistful longing).

   2. (A) By revitalizing Chrysler, Iacocca made it a vigorous, energetic company.

   3. (E) One expects a scholar to know the serious works on his subject. Though Cose is not a scholar, he nevertheless is familiar with the appropriate serious works.

   4. (A) Despite his self-centeredness, White could be kind to others and even belittle or be modest about himself (be self-deprecating).

   5. (C) The contrast here is between the apartment’s actual state (“shabby and dilapidated”) and its promised condition: pristine (spotlessly clean).

   6. (D) By definition, someone apathetic does not care.

   7. (C) To scavenge is to hunt through discarded items to find useful bits.

   8. (D) Most of the books are not excellent, but are mediocre (of moderate or low quality) instead.

   9. (C) Angry, heated discussions suggest no settlement is near. However, the two sides actually are close to agreeing.

10. (C) Churchill was not a dilettante or dabbler; he was a serious artist.

11. (D) Foreign powers that look on territory in the Americas as prey to be seized are by definition predatory.

12. (C) A spotty book is uneven in quality. This particular book suffers from sections that are relatively uninteresting, less than exciting though not precisely dull.

13. (C) A strict teetotaler (person who abstains from drinking alcohol) would not condone (overlook or disregard) anyone’s drinking intoxicants.

14. (A) To interpret art fancifully, inventing things, is a temptation to the critic. This critic resists the temptation; he is scrupulous (carefully painstaking) in sticking to the facts.

15. (A) Because he owes money, Lydgate must take a lucrative (well-paying) position.

16. (C) The writer is relatively positive about people’s decisions in choosing to represent themselves in court. He or she concludes that people have a reliable or dependable sense of when lawyers are and are not necessary.

17. (E) For the listener to come to agree with the speaker, any doubts he might have had must have been dispelled (made to vanish).

18. (BEmpathy by definition is sensitivity to the feelings and thoughts of others.

19. (CTacit cooperation is implied but not expressed actively. Johnson’s cooperation with Boswell went far beyond this.

20. (E) Lesser scholars would have been intimidated or daunted by the amount of material to be explored.

Sentence Completion Exercise 3

   1. (B) The key phrase here is “longer lives.” The doctors are trying to lengthen or prolong human life.

   2. (D) If the colonies appeared remarkably homogeneous or uniform in opinion, then clearly there were only superficial or very minor differences among them.

   3. (C) A small hall would tend to promote a sense of closeness appropriate to recitals. In other words, such a hall would be particularly conducive to the intimacy that is the recital’s special charm.

   4. (C) “Even” intensifies what is being said. Lullabies not only have a dark side; many also have a threatening, menacing quality.

   5. (A) For a dispute to become ugly and destructive, the level of disagreement must escalate (intensify; increase).

   6. (D) Lao Li’s archives document or record contemporary Chinese art.

   7. (D) Someone who leaves parties in order to go off alone clearly can no longer be described as gregarious (sociable).

   8. (D) If science is always ready to change or modify its theories, it clearly is tentative (provisional) rather than absolute in making its statements.

   9. (A) Because we today are able to cure tuberculosis, we think of it as simply another long-term chronic illness. In the past, however, people regarded it as a pestilence or plague.

10. (E) Rather than lure or attract readers, Gaddis’s work tends to repel or drive them away.

11. (C) Instead of being showily glamorous like opera, classical song is more restrained or subdued.

12. (C) The writer is uniformly positive about the book being reviewed, calling it painstakingly or carefully researched. The life the book describes, however, is not positive: the subject’s tormented career was tragic.

13. (A) Lexy’s pleasure did not last long; it was transitory, or fleeting.

14. (BCommingling is a thorough combining of parts. It would be futile or pointless to try to separate elements that have been thoroughly mixed.

15. (C) By describing the land as asleep, the writer means that the nation had yet to rouse itself to confront the foreign invaders. Clearly the people’s sense of nationalism was dormant or sleeping.

16. (B) In order to enhance or improve their empires, the moguls (cinema magnates) needed the services of prestigious writers whose eminence would rub off on them. In this way the moguls would aggrandize themselves, making themselves appear greater through their association with great intellectuals.

17. (D) The production is described metaphorically as if it were a jungle creature, alert, stealthy, almost predatory (ready to seize its victim) as it waits to pounce.

18. (DObsequious means servile or fawningly attentive.

19. (D) “Whereas” signals a contrast. L’Orfeo is not the beginning of a tradition. Instead, it is the culmination or highest achievement of one.

20. (B) In combining so many different approaches, Feher’s lessons are clearly eclectic (composed of elements drawn from different sources).

Sentence Completion Exercise 4

   1. (E) If you could afford only such meager nourishment, clearly you would be very poor—in other words, suffering from destitution, or utter poverty.

   2. (E) An uneventful life, one in which nothing much important or notable happened, would be difficult to make interesting.

   3. (E) Unable to rely on its poor vision to help it move in the darkness, the mole rat depends on the sensitivity of its whiskers to what they touch to give it a feel for its surroundings. Thus, the whiskers help guide the mole rat.

   4. (BAggressive, belligerent impulses push people to get into street brawls. However, professional boxers are allowed to fight only in professional competitions—that is, in the ring.

   5. (C) The phrase “for all” as used here means “in spite of.” It signals a contrast. The novel’s hero does not really belong in the 1890s. He is a contemporary voice and has a contemporary cultural sensibility or capacity for appreciation.

   6. (C) She wondered whether triangles qualified (demonstrated the required characteristics) to be called polygons.

   7. (D) Telescopic observations are more detailed (complete) than ones made with the naked eye. However, the first documented or recorded use of the telescope came after Kepler saw the supernova.

   8. (B) The author was not brave enough to attack the people who had the power to prevent his books from being published; he did not bite the hand that fed him. However, he was brave enough to make an occasional negative remark about these people; thus, he nibbled at the hand that fed him.

   9. (D) People who are “arty” are showily or pretentiously artistic: they collect art in order to show off their belongings. True art lovers, however, collect for their own pleasure, not for show.

10. (BRecurrent (periodically reappearing) attacks or bouts of illness could well alarm someone’s friends and family.

11. (D) “Though” signals a contrast. In this case, Simon’s review of a contemporary play is a rave (extravagant praise).

12. (D) In their old age, Chinese painters no longer copied their teachers. However, their originality did not involve major changes; they made slight, barely visible ones.

13. (E) If you had your reputation damaged by a libelous statement, you would want your name cleared or freed of blame. Thus, you would welcome a retraction (disavowal; withdrawal) of the libel.

14. (C) Kissinger appreciates the hard-headed, realistic use of power. He even appreciates power when it is used ruthlessly, without compassion or remorse. For this reason, he is able to admire the ability to use power effectively even when he sees it in people who are otherwise detestable(odious).

15. (C) Poseurs by definition pretend to be something they are not. Some people thought Dali was a great artist. Others dismissed (slighted; made little of) him as a painter who pretended to be great.

16. (E) If the world of food writing is known for its pettiness (small-mindedness) and infighting (internal quarrels), then an author who was generous would be rare in this milieu.

17. (AEsoteric allusions are by definition references that are understood by only a small, restricted group. References to obscure, little-known people and events clearly would not be understood by people in general.

18. (E) To see her sister’s fortunes rise while her own declined or fell would be likely to exacerbate or intensify the subject’s bitterness.

19. (D) To have retained so much information is to be formidably or awe inspiringly learned.

20. (E) It is futile or useless to try to abolish something whose existence is inevitable (unavoidable).

Level C


Sentence Completion Exercise 1

   1. (B) In the dark, one’s eyes have to work hard or strain to be able to see.

   2. (C) The uprising was organized and planned. Thus, it was not spontaneous or unpremeditated.

   3. (C) Theologians (specialists in the study of religious faith and practices) would be upset by a book that undermined or weakened established rituals and beliefs.

   4. (B) By definition, a sage is a wise person. Likewise, a virtuoso is a skilled person, one who has expertise.

   5. (C) Someone old for his years, slow and conservative, could well be called stodgy.

   6. (C) Preferring facts, the historian is uninterested in speculations or conjectures.

   7. (E) By agreeing to be the subjects of magazine articles, these famously shy novelists have given in to their publishers’ insistence on publicity.

   8. (D) Caring so much about being in the know, Tom was vexed or galled by his ignorance.

   9. (B) To waver between choices is by definition to vacillate.

10. (B) With their huge nets, the trawlers scoop up everything in their path. Thus, they trap fish indiscriminately, hauling them in without distinguishing among them.

11. (C) A father who rules autocratically and will brook or allow no disagreement is by definition domineering (overbearing; tyrannical). His daughter eloped to escape his control.

12. (C) The symphony is a classical music form. In writing jazz symphonies, Ellington was combining or fusing jazz with a classical form. He was attacked by critics who wished to discourage such fusions.

13. (C) If Tennyson managed to produce particularly impressive work in his last years, clearly his creative powers had not declined or flagged.

14. (C) A stronghold (fortified area) by definition is a place set up to protect people from attack.

15. (B) Lovejoy advises the reader how to avoid being fooled by fake or spurious antiques.

16. (B) Someone omniscient (all-knowing) would by definition be unlimited in knowledge.

17. (C) A euphemism is a mild expression used in place of a blunt, unpleasant one.

18. (B) By definition, a juncture is a point of convergence, here the point where televised information and entertainment are joined in a new format.

19. (B) For a nonbreeding female to be able to replace a queen, taking over her breeding functions, the female must regain her reproductive abilities. In other words, the nonbreeding female suddenly reverses her sterility (barrenness; inability to reproduce).

20. (CVicissitudes are the changes of fortune one experiences in the course of a lifetime. Going from ruling an empire to laboring in a garden, China’s last emperor clearly would have been humbled or lowered in condition by these changes.

Sentence Completion Exercise 2

   1. (A) Before they can ascertain or figure out how important it is to limit the human use of the beaches at night, the observers must determine just how much the shorebirds depend on their nocturnal (nighttime) feeding.

   2. (A) If you can see only shades of gray, your view is by definition monochromatic (made up of one color or hue).

   3. (B) A faulty premise or underlying assumption can undermine the most logically reasoned argument.

   4. (D) To be thin-skinned by definition is to be quick to resent any insult or joking remark (jest) that might reflect on one’s dignity.

   5. (D) Bridges and dams are built to serve useful functions: they are works of utility. However, this writer asserts that the new bridges and dams are works of art as well.

   6. (C) By definition, something that loses its plasticity (capacity for being molded or shaped) is less malleable (capable of being shaped).

   7. (C) McClintock went from being unheralded (not celebrated or famous) to being renowned (celebrated; acclaimed).

   8. (B) A disinterested (unselfishly motivated) act would not be motivated by selfish thoughts of one’s own advantage.

   9. (CImminent means near at hand, hanging threateningly over one’s head. A procrastinator or last-minute worker often delays till the deadline is nearly upon her.

10. (D) Conventionally, one owes a benefactor gratitude. Rather than feeling thankful, however, Estella felt resentful and even hostile (unfriendly; antagonistic).

11. (BVeracity means truthfulness. By questioning someone’s truthfulness, you hope to prove he or she is a liar.

12. (E) Nerves would be frayed or strained by constant clamor (noise).

13. (C) Something that outglitters its rivals is more showy or ostentatious than they are.

14. (BFoibles by definition are minor flaws or weaknesses. The support signal and suggests that the missing word must be a synonym or near-synonym for “weaknesses.”

15. (B) To stigmatize behavior is to characterize or mark it as disgraceful or wicked. To penalize behavior is to go even further and punish it.

16. (D) Now that they have dealt with the major items, they can move on to the minor or incidental ones.

17. (C) If you now believe what you had been reluctant to believe, your doubts or uncertainties have been dispelled (dissipated; driven away).

18. (C) Johnson would not countenance (tolerate; approve) such unfair hiring practices.

19. (B) A toady (sycophant; flatterer in search of getting favors) is characterized by obsequiousness (servile attentiveness).

20. (A) Camus had to fight to acquire or gain a culture that was not his by birth (in other words, was not innate or inborn).

Sentence Completion Exercise 3

   1. (C) One wouldn’t bother to make an insurance claim for negligible (small; inconsequential) damage.

   2. (CProbity is by definition honesty or integrity.

   3. (C) In calling Spellbound a glowing testimonial to (expression of the benefits received from) the powers of psychoanalysis to do good, the writer maintains that the movie presents a favorable picture of psychoanalysis. However, it is not an exclusively admiring, adulatory picture.

   4. (D) To have his work panned or harshly criticized would be likely to make a playwright miserable.

   5. (C) The satellite is off course and is moving erratically (irregularly or inconsistently) through space.

   6. (D) A benefactor by definition is someone who confers benefits or blessings on others.

   7. (A) “Though” signals a contrast. In spite of her attempts to be happy, Heidi was unhappy because she pined (fruitlessly longed) to be back home.

   8. (C) The couple’s discovery raised or suggested a possibility that further investigation showed to be correct.

   9. (B) An overemphasis on correctness that stifled or repressed the performers’ liveliness would mar or spoil a production.

10. (C) Your background can condition or determine your thinking, subtly prejudicing you so that you cannot be truly impartial or fair.

11. (C) A renegade by definition deserts one allegiance in favor of another.

12. (B) A patronizing or condescending attitude may offend others and eliminate or rule out the possibility of good relations.

13. (C) To dismiss Longfellow in this way is to reject him as unworthy of serious critical consideration.

14. (A) By not specifically stating his wishes, Monteverdi leaves them a mystery. Thus, he is enigmatic (mysterious).

15. (B) By definition, insipid means lacking flavor. By definition, inane means lacking sense.

16. (B) An affront (deliberate offense or insult) would clearly incense or anger someone.

17. (C) Because the details are subordinated or made less important than the building’s total design, the building is unencumbered (unimpeded; unhampered) by a sense of busyness.

18. (E) To praise things indiscriminately, making no distinctions between treasures and trash, is to fail to exercise proper critical selectivity.

19. (B) To sound the depths is to ascertain just how deep something is. This biographer has not reached the depths, but she has examined the surface.

20. (AErudition means great learning or scholarship. Pedantry, however, is a great show of learning, an excessive attention to petty details that lacks the true scholarly spirit.

Sentence Completion Exercise 4

   1. (C) A limited availability of necessities would put constraints or restrictions on the creatures needing them.

   2. (D) Under such rough conditions, it would be too risky or precarious to walk without holding on.

   3. (C) “Though” signals a contrast. Rather than being creative, the eventual publicity campaign was prosaic or unimaginative.

   4. (C) To deny or refuse to others something you yourself do not need or want is to behave like the proverbial dog-in-the-manger, who did not want to eat the hay in the manger but refused to let the hungry cattle get at it.

   5. (E) No longer fluent and prone to speech, he became monosyllabic, answering in words of one syllable.

   6. (C) Something understood only theoretically or intellectually is known only in the abstract.

   7. (E) It is incongruous that it is easier to prove something a fake than to prove it genuine or real.

   8. (D) When we say historians shed new light on or illuminate the past, we express respect for historians. When Twain observed that the antiquarians (students of ancient things) shed new darkness on the past, he expressed contempt or scorn for historians.

   9. (ASpontaneous performances, performances arising from the impulse of the moment, tend to be fresh or novel.

10. (C) The key word here is “unfortunately.” To have rapid economic growth lead to the overexploitation or excessive, unjust use of resources and the unfair or inequitable sharing of wealth is truly unfortunate.

11. (E) If she became increasingly militant (aggressively active), then she was not tempered (mellowed) by a spirit of discretion or caution.

12. (E) If you think that people are motivated only by selfish thoughts of their own advantage, you will be unlikely to believe in the integrity or trustworthiness of any unselfish motive.

13. (B) Wapner was not a pedantic scholar, fussing about minute points of law.

14. (D) By definition, a matrilineal society, in which inheritance is determined through the female line, is one in which women have a significant role.

15. (D) In remarking that few humans could survive living in a state of uninterrupted anger, Cose challenges or disputes Baldwin’s statement about anger as a constant in black American life.

16. (C) Instead of allowing the exchanges to develop fully, the playwright cuts short or truncates them.

17. (D) By definition, a tenet is a belief generally held to be true. Here it is used as a synonym for guiding principle or “creed.”

18. (B) Musicians solicit or seek out Irvin’s services with avidness (eagerness) because he is a highly skilled artisan.

19. (C) Fisher’s work evades or skirts classification because it does not fall neatly into set categories.

20. (BArboreal means inhabiting or frequenting trees.