It is his dubious distinction to have proved what nobody would

It is his dubious distinction to have proved what nobody would think of denying, that Romero at the age of sixty-four writes with all the characteristics of______ .

  1. maturity
  2. fiction
  3. inventiveness
  4. art
  5. brilliance

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, even if they’re only one blank questions—but never fear, PrepScholar has got your back!

First, let’s scan our sentence for clues as to how our blank relates to the rest of the information in our sentence. Hmm. This sentence doesn’t have a lot of really obvious clues, but there are a couple of things that we might note. First our sentence seems to hinge around a comma—in fact, everything before the comma could be it’s own sentence, and everything after seems to just label what it is he “proved.” On that note, while they try to throw us off with a bunch of fancy language, the first part of the sentence tells us that what he “proved” is actually something “nobody would think of denying”—in other words, this character “proved” something that’s actually obvious.

Ok, good so far, but how does all of this relate to the blank? Well our blank should describe what “characteristics” Romero would obviously write with, but all we know about “Romero” is that he is sixty-four years old. Now, as the Beatles song suggests, sixty-four isn’t exactly ancient but it is getting up there in age. Perhaps our sentence is supposed to describe Romero as “writing with the characteristics of experience” or something else that comes with a bit of age.

Now that we have an idea of what our blank should say, we can start looking at our answers. It’s important that we try to form our own idea of what would fit in the blank before looking at our answers. This way we won’t get caught up trying to test out answers to see if they work. Instead we can match an answer.


Well, it’s not the word we predicted, but it certainly fits the same criteria—maturity is something that comes with age… usually. Let’s keep answer A, but since we aren’t going on a whole lot of clues, we should keep checking out answers just in case another one stands out.



Hmmm. Nothing in our sentence tells us that Romero writes novels or short stories or other forms of fiction. Also, what are the “characteristics of fiction”—aren’t there, like, a million kinds of fiction? This answer is designed to trap us if we see the word “writes” and assume tha the sentence should have to do with what Romero writes. It isn’t actually supported by any clues, so we can eliminate B.



Well, at sixty-four a successful writer might need to get rather inventive, but he might also be stuck in the same old patterns—we simply don’t know enough about Romero or his writing to say that he is “obviously inventive,” so we can eliminate C.



This answer is a little more tempting. At sixty-four, Romero may have had some time to refine the art of writing. However, we actually don’t know if Romero has been writing all of these sixty-four years (I mean, presumably he was once a baby), and also just because someone has been writing a long time doesn’t make them obviously a good writer. It’s more justifiable to say someone who is sixty-four is mature than it is to say that he is artful, so D is not as well-supported as A.



Again, just like “art,” we can’t say for sure if being a little older makes Romero “brilliant”—we’ve probably met some old people who aren’t quite as wise as their years might make them seem. Like D, this answer is a bit assumed and not as well supported as A. We can eliminate E.

“It is his dubious distinction to have proved what nobody would think of denying, that Romero at the age of sixty-four writes with all the characteristics of maturity.”

While having very few clues can be intimidating, it can also help us easily eliminate answers that are assumed. All we knew in this sentence is that these “characteristics of whatever” needed to be something that no one would deny that Romero writes with, and all we knew about Romero was that he was starting to get the senior citizens discount most places. Therefore, the only answer we can say has support in the sentence is A since “maturity” is generally considered to come with age. A is the correct answer.


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