Of course anyone who has ever perused an unmodernized text of

Of course anyone who has ever perused an unmodernized text of Captain Clark’s journals knows that the Captain was one of the most (i)______ spellers ever to write in English, but despite this (ii)______ orthographical rules, Clark is never unclear.

Blank (i)

  1. indefatigable
  2. fastidious
  3. defiant

Blank (ii)

  1. disregard for
  2. partiality toward
  3. unpretentiousness about

So, you were trying to be a good test taker and practice for the GRE with PowerPrep online. Buuuut then you had some questions about the verbal section—specifically the second Verbal section of Practice Test 1. Those Text completion questions can be kind of tricky, especially those of the two-blank variety—but never fear, PrepScholar has got your back!

Wow. One thing that makes this question particularly difficult is that each blank could be a clue for the other. Also the test makers have tried to throw us off by using this big word “orthographical,” which we can infer has to do with spelling since the first part of the sentence described him as a ______ speller.

We shouldn’t let these things stop us from skimming our sentence for clues as to how our our blanks relate to our sentence. First, we should note the use of the words “but” and “despite,” which both indicate contrast; also, we should never be afraid to let punctuation help us out. The sentence is split in the middle with a comma followed by a coordinating conjunction (what our sixth grade teacher called “FANBOYS”). This means we have two separate independent clauses, or complete ideas, so let’s just look at the second part of our sentence for a second. The first part of these clause “despite…rules” should contrast with the second part. So on the one hand, the Captains work did something with spelling rules, but on the other, he was never “unclear.” Well, we might expect someone who doesn’t follow rules to be unclear, so we can guess that we want our blank to convey that the Captain did NOT follow rules. Let’s see if we have an answer for this second blank that shows that.

disregard for

To “disregard” something is to neglect to pay attention to or obey it. This answer would give the blank the meaning that we’re looking for so we should keep D.

partiality toward

To be “partial” towards something is to generally agree with or even have a bias toward it, so this answer would imply that the Captain probably did follow the rules of spelling. We can eliminate E.

unpretentiousness about

Hmm. To be “pretentious” is to attempt to impress by affecting more of something than is truly possessed, so for one thing, to be “pretentious” or “unpretentious” about spelling is… a little weird. Also if he’s “unpretentious about” spelling, that probably just means he isn’t one to make a big deal about it, but doesn’t necessarily tell us whether he did or did not follow the rules. We can eliminate F.

Ok, so we’ve established that the Captain probably did not follow the rules of spelling, so we might guess that our first blank should describe him as one of the worst spellers (of course, since “most” is in front of our blank we know that “worst” won’t literally be the answer since “most worst” doesn’t make sense, but that’s OK; we just need to predict the intent of the blank).


Hmmm. Maybe not a very common word, but one we can likely pick apart. Of course, we should not rely on our knowledge of roots too much since the GRE likes to pick words with misleading roots, but it can still help us form a kind of general idea of if a word may or may not work. We might notice the word “fatigue,” meaning to tire, is part of this word. We also have the prefix “in-,” meaning “not.” The confusing thing is that “de-” means “away” or “completely.” So, what does this all mean? Well to be “indefatigable” means to “persist tirelessly,” which doesn’t fit our a sentence. We could eliminate A if we know this, but if not we should just not that “not tiring” doesn’t really fit our context and move on.


“Fastidious” means meticulous or concerned with details which is basically the opposite of what we want in our blank—to say the Captain was a speller concerned with details would likely mean he followed the rules. We can eliminate B.


Ahh! Someone who is “defiant” would disregard the rules—and as a result would probably not be a very good speller. C seems to work in our blank, but let’s plug in our answers to double check them.

“Of course anyone who has ever perused an unmodernized text of Captain Clark’s journals knows that the Captain was one of the most (i) defiant spellers ever to write in English, but despite this (ii) disregard for orthographical rules, Clark is never unclear.”

Yes, this sentence tells us that while Captain Clark was not one to pay attention to spelling rules, his writing is nonetheless understandable. C and D are correct.


Want more expert GRE prep? Sign up for the five-day free trial of our PrepScholar GRE Online Prep Program to access your personalized study plan with 90 interactive lessons and over 1600 GRE questions.

Have questions? Leave a comment or send us an email at [email protected].