GRE Question of the Week #1: Text Completion

a pencil on notebook and a question mark

For each blank select one entry from the corresponding column of choices. Fill all blanks in the way that best completes the text.

Upstanding citizens founded the committee to extirpate lawlessness in the post-Civil War period; however, as the historical record shows, (i)________ elements soon infiltrated, vitiated the noble intent, and engaged in (ii)________ deeds against honest residents of the region.

Blank (i)
A) outside
B) obstreperous
C) miscreant

Blank (ii)
D) unforeseen
E) nefarious
F) ameliorative

Click here for the answer and explanation.
















In this sentence, we can identify “however” as a signal that contrasting ideas are being presented. Because the phrase “upstanding citizens” appears before “however,” we can conclude that the missing words must indicate the opposite of that idea. It might be tempting to choose Choice (A) “outside” for the first blank because elements infiltrated from outside the committee, and yet “outside” is not an antonym for “upstanding.”

Choice (B) “obstreperous” (“noisily unruly”) also is a misfit. Therefore, the missing word must be Choice (C) “miscreant” (“lawbreaking”). Given that choice, we can readily see that “nefarious” (“criminal, evil”) should fill the second blank. Choice (D) “unforeseen” and Choice (F) “ameliorative” (“making better”) do not fit the context which requires a word with a specifically negative connotation.

The correct answer is “miscreant” Choice (C) and “nefarious” Choice (E).