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GRE Text Completion Strategy – Technique 1: Treat the sentence like a ‘math’ problem

GRE Text Completion Strategy – Technique 1: Treat the sentence like a ‘math’ problem


the other day I received an email from a
lawyer! a lawyer in India in fact and it
was a very nice email said he loved the videos and that he was learning a lot he
did however have one piece of constructive criticism he said Greg
where exactly do I begin with your videos they’re not very
organized and I thought about this for a while and I said you’re right they’re
not so in an effort to be more organized I present you with this video technique
number one for GRE text completion strategy of course the technique one
implies that there will be additional techniques that implication is correct
and those videos will be up soon so without further ado let us begin.
what exactly is technique number one so technique number one is something that I
developed in my experience with the GRE and then teaching students and basically
what you’re going to do is you’re going to treat the sentence like a math
problem. we all know about math we all know that 1 * 1=1
we also know that a negative 1 times a positive 1 equals negative 1 and
then finally we know that negative 1 times a negative 1 equals a positive 1
.grammar works the same way and
vocabulary works the same way and if you approach the GRE Text completions.
sentences kind of as if they are math equations you can really figure out a
lot what’s going on in them and really make good guesses for the blanks and
then hopefully get the right answer. the best way to illustrate this to you guys
is with an example with a GRE text completion question you never really
want to look at the answer choices because the answer choices are traps so
how about we go ahead and just get rid of these answer choices because they’re
just gonna get in my way okay so bye bye bye bye bye and bye
alright so once we do that what we’re left with is the sentence itself without
any of the answer choices and now we can
apply the math strategy to make sure
we’re figuring out what goes in this blank. so how do I apply the math
strategy well the first thing I do is I read it and I’m looking for certain
specific words that either have a
positive value or a negative value the latest tech superstar to catch the
watchful eye of venture capitalists is known for her carefree approach to
business however okay so the first word I notice
here is the word however however tells me that part one of the sentence in part
two of the sentence have a contrast so
what I’m going to do is I’m going to put the word however in the middle and I’m
going to give it a value of negative one now the second thing I’m going to do is
I’m going to identify the location of
the blank is the location of the blank in the sentence part one or is it in the
sentence part two and as you can see because the blank is near the end here
it’s obviously in part two so I’m gonna put a blank here
on the Left I’m gonna give some effort or take some effort to figure out
exactly what the Left says because it’s impossible to guess the blank without
first looking at the left and understanding it not all of this
information is important and with practice you’ll be able to identify
what’s the most important information well the most important information is
what she’s known for and she’s known for this carefree approach to business
almost as if she doesn’t care so I’m gonna write down the word carefree
approach to business now I don’t know about you but people who have a carefree
approach to business are likely to make mistakes are likely to not take things
very seriously might even cause some trouble for their employees so I’m going
to give this a value of negative one and now I can do my math problem a negative
1 times a negative 1 with however equals a positive 1 so let’s put that in green
so over here I have a positive one and keep in mind we’re talking about
business here so however in matters related to programming she is
unmistakeably blank almost to a fault so it sounds like to me she’s very serious
about her programming she takes it very seriously
and with this math application process I can now look at the answer choices and
choose the answer that’s closest to the word serious if I’m lucky it is the word
serious if not it might be a harder vocabulary word that has a synonym of
serious looking at the answer choices a notorious be serious
see misunderstood D fervid and eek ANDed
yeah I was lucky I got lucky here my guess was actually the correct answer
serious and I know you might think that that never happens but actually this
happens all the time as you become better at this process because you don’t
start guessing words like serious you
start guessing GRE vocabulary words and more often than not it actually ends up
being the correct answer let’s try another example
so again just like before these answer choices are traps I don’t like them I
want to get rid of them they have no bearing on my understanding of this
sentence in fact it has a adverse effect and will even lower my understanding
because some of these words will sound good but not really apply to the
sentence okay before I break down this problem using the math strategy how
about you go ahead and pause the video pause the video and try to apply this
strategy by yourself okay remember what you’re looking for
here you’re looking for words or punctuation that either indicates a
support which is a positive one or a contrast which is a negative one so I’ll
tell you what I notice and I’ll put it in red so it’s easy to see I noticed
this comma now notice this comma divides
the sentence into two parts it divides it into part one a staunch
advocate of impartiality and grading and
it divides it into part two the professor ensured that he assesses
students using a blank process so I’m gonna put the comma in the middle and
I’m gonna give it a value of plus one because it means Part one and Part two
support each other
where is the blank the blank is in blank part two so I’m not going to focus there
I’m gonna focus on part one a staunch advocate of impartiality in grading so
I’m gonna simplify this so I don’t confuse myself this person is a
supporter advocate of impartiality well what is impartial ‘ti impartiality is
fairness okay I’m gonna give that a positive value green because that sounds
to me like a good thing now I can apply the math strategy what is positive 1
times positive 1 well obviously it’s positive 1
so what I’m going to do here is I’m just going to move this word fair and put it
here a fair process because these two sentences these two parts support each
other in fact you can even reuse this word if you know the meaning impartial
now that I fully understand the sentence I going to look at the answer choices
and choose the one that is closest to fair or impartial a logical logical
process sounds good to me but is something logical fair maybe I’m
gonna skip that I don’t love it I don’t love it arbitrary is the opposite of
fair cross it out meticulous again very detailed very careful but is that going
to be fair not really I’m gonna skip that one as well it’s just not close
enough cursory would be the opposite affair that’s like doing something too
quick and then finally disinterested now
disinterested if I know my vocabulary you will know that this is actually a
synonym of fair and impartial it does not mean apathetic or not interested so
that’s one of those GRE traps right there you know when you whenever you
look at this word you think it’s negative you think it’s like apathetic
or not interested but really in fact what it means is fair or impartial so
the correct answer is II I don’t want yellow yellow was pretty hard to see
cocked answers E which means the two ones that I skipped a logical and
meticulous don’t work I want you to keep
in mind the three traps here so trap number one logical sounds good trap
number two meticulous sounds good and then finally trap number three is this
one this trap is a little bit different
rather than choosing disinterested it’s a trap that forces you to choose another
answer so we just looked at two examples and in the first example we identified
the word however as having the value negative one in the second example we
identified the comma as having the value
positive and so if you look at this chart here on the Left these are all
words and punctuation marks that indicate positive a positive one and
since also thus because semicolon likewise moreover similarly in addition
etc etc and like we’ve had in the
previous example our good old comma on the right side these are all the words
that indicate contrast or carry a value of negative one and let’s go ahead and
put that in red so on the right we have
words like but despite yet however and this was our example one right here
unless rather although while on the other hand anything but far from so
these phrases here indicate opposite whereas this phrase nothing but is going
to indicate you know positive so this list tried to
memorize all of these words and all of
these phrases and their effects on the sentence whether it’s negative or
positive okay what I want you guys to do
now is pause the video and for the two examples below apply the math strategy
and see if you can figure out what’s
going on in each blank okay so go ahead and pause the video and give this a shot
okay let’s do the first one despite an
abundance of evidence supporting the alternative hypothesis the archeologist
remained something other possibilities so for me the first word that I
recognize here is the word despite so I’m gonna put that in the middle even
though it’s not the middle of the sentence it’s in the beginning but it
does divide the sentence into two parts despite has a value of negative one
let’s go ahead and put that in red where
is the blank well the blank is on the near the end
which means it’s part of the second part of the sentence so I’m going to look at
the first sentence despite an abundance of evidence supporting the alternative
hypothesis so it looks here that the alternative hypothesis is probably
correct maybe like 99% correct so it seems like they’re ending the debate the
debate is over well whenever debate is over and we have a lot of evidence well
to me that sounds like a good thing so I’m gonna give that a positive value now
I do my math problem what’s a positive 1 times a negative 1 well the answer is
gonna be negative 1 which tells me the second part of the sentence is negative
now not negative like sad but negative as in a contrast with the first part so
in the first part the debate is over the debate has ended well that must mean
that debate continues so I’m gonna write
this down the debate is not over the debate continues so now let’s see if I
can get a better guess the archaeologists remained
I’ll discuss the word open to open to other possibilities that seems like a
pretty good guess so let’s write this
down in the blank open to okay next one the mayor was forced to blank the
demands of the organization since its members comprised a significant minority
of her electorate who are confusing but if I follow the process not too bad
the first word you notice is sense so put that in the middle since has a value
of positive one now where is the blank
is the blank in the left or on the right well it looks like the blanks on the
left so I’m gonna go to the right its members comprised a significant minority
of her electorate if the members comprise a significant portion of the
people who voted her into office it seems like these members have a lot of
influence have a lot of influence now
again I can give this a positive value or a negative value depending on your
perspective well for me if an organization’s members have a lot of
influence you know hopefully it’s a good organization I’m gonna give that a
positive value so now we have positive 1 and positive 1 we do our math problem
which means over here I must have a
similar idea I must be able to support the fact that these members have a lot
of influence well if these members have a lot of influences influence what is
the mayor going to do to the demands well the mayor is going to accept the
demands so in blank here I’m gonna put the word accept in problem number 1 I
have the word open 2 and problem number
2 I have the word accept so let’s go ahead and look at the answer choices okay so for this blank I guess the word
open 2 let’s just go one by one let’s start at
the bottom grateful for other possibilities like he’s thankful not
really what I’m looking for dismisses a dismissive of is completely
the opposite of what I’m looking for hesitant or it again he’s open to it
he’s not hesitant married to seems very strong it’s stronger than open to but if
he’s married to other possibilities that means the debate is not over so this one
looks pretty good but I’m gonna skip it because I still want to look at a a says
cognizant of which just means aware well everybody’s aware of something that
doesn’t really tell me how they think about these other possibilities so I’m
gonna cross out cognizant of and the best answer is marry to next one the
mayor was forced to blank the demands we originally guessed accept so let’s go
down undermine the demands well that’s the opposite of what I want repudiate
the demands that’s the opposite I want change the demands if you accept the
demands you’re not changing the demands
consider this is not bad consider the demands but this doesn’t tell me that
she actually made a decision right I’m
curious in making a decision here so this one here is almost too weak and
then finally let’s look at a acquiesce to which means yeah she had to accept
the demands best answer is a here’s
another one go ahead and pause the video and try to apply the math strategy to
figure out what what’s going on in the blank okay let’s figure this one out the book
the definitive guide to all things gardening was anything but blank in fact
it contains so little content that readers were left wondering whether it
had been titled ironically so the first thing I’m going to notice here is the
phrase in fact so I’m going to put in fact here in fact divides the sentence
into two parts and in fact has a value of positive one so let’s write positive
one under it whereas the blank is the blank in the first part of the sentence
or the second part of the sentence well it looks like the blanks in the first
part of the sentence so I’m going to ignore that let’s look at the second
part it contained so little content that readers were left wondering whether it
had been titled ironically so let’s
actually use the ironic title remember ironic kind of means opposite the title
is all things gardening and it’s the definitive guide so my expectation is
that this book has a lot of information
ironic title means go opposite so what this means is it must have little
information and I can support that with the with the phrase so little content
little content well let’s give that a value would that be a positive or a
negative this sounds to me like a negative a negative times a positive is
going to be a negative over here so what this means is the first part of the
sentence is negative a bad thing the second part of the sentence is negative
a bad thing and they kind of support each other I don’t want to do a contrast
here I want both parts of these sentences to be bad because of the math
problem so this one is a little bit trickier though because you have the
word anything but and if you recall from
our chart the value of anything but is negative so if I put a negative word
here in the blank well inside here a negative times a negative I’m going to
get a positive and I want this entire idea to be negative
so I don’t want to put a negative in the blank that’s gonna cause problems for me
what I want to do instead is put a positive and let’s explain why if I put
a positive here I now inside this these brackets I have a negative times a
positive which overall is going to equal
a negative which is what I want so here we go what would be a positive word if
we’re talking about information well it would be a lot of information or a lot
of content so the word I’m going to put is comprehensive and probably because
GRE loves this word this is probably the correct answer okay this is the last
part of the video what I want you guys to do is pause it and I left the answer
choices here see if you can figure it out now on the real GRE you have about a
minute or a minute and a half to solve this problem okay so take about a minute
or a minute and a half and see if you can get the right answer hopefully you
were able to get the answer composed so let’s break this down so the first word
or punctuation that I notice is the word yet so let’s put yet in the middle and
yet has a value of negative one
now the blank is the blank on the left or the right well looks like the blanks
on the right he was blank in both so I’m going to
ignore that for now and go to the left
well basically a lot of this information is not that important except the fact
that the guy had social anxiety you know let’s let’s let’s rephrase this he was
always nervous he was a nervous dude okay does that something like a good
thing or a bad thing to you to me that sounds like a bad thing so now I can do
my math problem I have a negative times
a negative which is going to equal a positive so I know that he was positive
in the most critical of moments so some strategy here I can cross out anything
that’s negative mercurial is negative and ruffled is negative ruffled means
nervous this
synonym of anxious basically so now I have three positive words in how do I
know which one’s correct well I know
which one’s correct because I’m looking for the most direct opposite of the word
anxious or nervous pleasant means you know warm or maybe happy the opposite of
that would be like angry or unhappy not
really what I’m looking for cross it out Frank means honest or telling the truth
the opposite of that would be dishonest again that’s not anxious or nervous
and then finally composed well if somebody is composed that means they’re
together and they’re calm and they’re
handling themselves so this is the best answer and my final note here is GRE
does this all the time they’ll choose words that have multiple definitions
like the word compose well to compose something means to write something and
many of my test taking students will actually eliminate this word because
they think it’s related to writing okay remember the GRE is never this stupid
and they always put traps and this trap
answer is actually one that encourages you to choose a different answer okay
that’s the end of this video and the end of technique 1 I hope you found it
useful and like always if you want to shoot me an email if you have any
questions you can contact me at [email protected] .until next
time guys I’ll have a video for you technique 2 coming out soon! Ty

71 thoughts on “GRE Text Completion Strategy – Technique 1: Treat the sentence like a ‘math’ problem

  1. Hi Greg, in the question at the 14:25 mark, if the members comprise of a significant minority doesn't that mean that they don't have a lot of influence since they're the minority? That one threw me off.

  2. It is a great method. I have often found myself using this, so I had an intuitive understanding of the process but you quantified it in a good way.

  3. It doesnt have to be organized! Please just upload as many as possible! It is very helpful especially vocabularies! Thanks a lot!

  4. Hi, I had a doubt regarding the archeologist question. I read it and assumed that even thought there was a lot of evidence for the ALTERNATIVE theory, the archeologist didn't budge from his initial theory, and hence was "dismissive of" other possibilities. Why am I wrong?

  5. This is so informative. I have been preparing for my GRE for a few weeks now and the videos have been very helpful.

  6. Thanks Greg, your videos come at the right time I need them most. I will try some questions using your trick. I hope I get it right😊

  7. Thank you so much for the wonderful tips. Yet to find them in any other GRE resources.
    I had a question though. In the question of the archeologist, according to the math strategy (+1 × -1 =-1), the first blank should have negative meaning. But being 'open to' other possibilities sounds positive.
    Also since alternative hypothesis means the same as other possibilities, we need a word which opposes that. Could you please explain?

  8. Thanks for the video! It's clear to understand. But i have a question on the first example. I thought the answer is going to be "misunderstood" since the following part was "almost to a fault". But in what sense a fault could hold a positive meaning?

  9. I have to say that 2nd example, "A staunch advocate of impartiality in grading, the professor ensured that he assessed his students using ________ process." Drove me to frustration. Does the GRE really have 1 blank for 2 words like this? It definitely didn't work with this method, because without the choices, you have no idea how many words you are looking for. Obviously, there is something missing, because you can't even guess what part of speech they are looking for, since anything would not make sense here if there were only one word. I have lost my faith in this approach, and now I'm worried the GRE has one blank for multiple words, which seems misleading.

  10. Nice. I used the +1 -1 approach and posted my vid before seeing this. Yours is definitely more thorough but the fact that we both came up with a similar approach must be a good (+1) sign.

  11. Dear Greg , thank you so much for your online teaching sessions and tons of thanks to you once again but i need to confess even iam also finding difficult with your videos as which one i finished and which i didnt go through . kindly put up numbers or some code to verbal Vocabulary & Maths so that it will help us alot . Hope you got my point .
    Thank you

  12. Wow! Thank you. I think i can tackle my TC quite well as i chose the correct answers from these questions.
    I'm going to appear my gre next month and i am quite nervous.
    Great video btw!

  13. You're doing a great job man! Though I came across your video just a week and a half before my GRE and I did try to get most out of it. Thank you. I got 322.

  14. You are awesome gregmat. Helped me reach a good verbal score. Thank you for this. Keep doing what you are doing.

    Cheers

  15. I love how I can nail these sentence completions in 30 seconds or less. This is great because I tend to spend forever on the reading comp passages and arguments, which is where my time is needed the most! It really pays to just skip those passages and tackle all the sentence completion and equivalencies first.

  16. "open to other possibilities." This means d dude was aware and is conscious of other possibilities.

    Cognizant means aware or conscious of something. If I am conscious of other possibilities, it means I am watching out for other possibilities because it is right there in my subconscious.

    "Married to" means linked to or 'welded to' other possibilities, which is off point.

    But great job. I learned a lot.

  17. How would you answer below question using your technique.
    For a writer with a reputation for both prolixity and inscrutability, Thompson, in this slim collection of short stories, may finally be intent on making his ideas more ______________ to a readership looking for quick edification.

  18. Thanks for your video. Your point of view regarding (+1) and (-1) makes the stuff more clear.
    But one of the questions remained unsolved. I hope such wrong questions doesn't come in GRE test.

    Despite lots of evidences, the archaeologist remained …… other possibilities.
    The answer can be each one of the proposed options, even "hesitant toward;" because even if there are lots of evidences, but he is still hesitating toward other possibilities (to be the solution).

  19. Thanks a lot for your content!! Your videos actually helped me a lot since I can't afford any of the expensive GRE online courses. I'm FOREVER grateful for you.

  20. These strategies are very helpful, thank you. But the options are not visible its hidden by the sentence you spoke before while pausing. Please see to that it don't hide the options.

  21. i hope and pray you live longer, die peacefully, can achieve place in heaven without purgatory and in next life too, help every living being avidly with your knowledge. God bless you Greg.

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