Given how (i) the shortcomings of the standard economic model are in its portrayal of human behavior, the failure of many economists to respond to them is astonishing. They continue to fill the journals with yet more proofs of yet more (ii) theorems. Others, by contrast, accept the criticisms as a challenge, seeking to expand the basic model to embrace a wider range of things people do.
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 question 3 of the first Verbal section on 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!
First, we should read our sentence and look for clues as to how our blanks relate, not only to one another, but also to the keywords in our sentence. One sort of odd thing we might notice about this particular question is that we have THREE sentences but only TWO blanks. Text completion questions don’t usually contain a lot of extra information, so it’s a pretty safe bet that our third sentence will provide some evidence for one or both of our blanks.
The first sentence begins with the phrase “given how,” which suggests that the first part of this sentence, which incidentally contains our blank, should be a reason for the second part of the sentence. This first blank should describe “shortcomings” in a way that makes it “astonishing” that economists fail to respond to them.
The second sentence tells us that economists, presumably in their failure to respond to the shortcomings mentioned earlier, continue to work on more and more ______ theorems. If we feel like we have enough information for this blank, let’s keep reading. The third sentence tells us what other economists do “by contrast,” meaning that these actions are somehow different from writing _____ theorems. This sentence tells us that these other economists are willing to make changes to the basic model to account for these “shortcomings.”
Alright, so we can infer that there must be quite a few “shortcomings” in the “standard economic model” and/or that these shortcomings are pretty significant. We know this because it’s “astonishing” or shocking that many economists have not done what a select few economists have and made changes to the model. So, we want our first blank to reflect that these shortcomings are “significant.”
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.
Ohp. We have to be careful. Later on in the sentence we’re told that these shortcomings are, indeed, overlooked. BUT we’re looking for a word in this blank that would make the fact that they are overlooked “astonishing.” This answer copies the wrong idea from the sentence, so we can eliminate A.
Something “occasional” is infrequent which is pretty dissimilar to our prediction “significant.” We can eliminate B because it is almost the opposite of what we want for our blank.
Something “patent” is easily recognizable or obvious. Wait. This doesn’t match our prediction either! What gives? Well, if we think about it, if it’s obvious that the current economic model has shortcomings, would it not be a little surprising that economists have failed to respond to those shortcomings? Sure. We would think that obvious flaws would be addressed pretty quickly, but apparently they’re not. C seems like it could work even though it wasn’t a perfect match for our prediction.
Alright, so for this second blank, we want to describe theorems that are based on this obviously flawed model. We might predict that something like “flawed” would work in our blank then. Let’s check the answers.
Something “comprehensive” is all-inclusive. This answer doesn’t match our prediction, and theorems based on a flawed model probably wouldn’t be “all-inclusive.” We can eliminate D.
Again, this word does not perfectly match our prediction, but wouldn’t a theory that is “flawed” as a result probably be fairly unlikely? This answer definitely fits in the same line of reasoning as our prediction even if it isn’t a perfect match, so we should keep E.
If we aren’t sure what “pervasive” means, maybe we should just steer clear—after all, E seemed pretty legit. In fact, pervasive means “widespread,” which doesn’t really fit the context of our sentence. We can eliminate F.
As a final check, let’s plug these answers into our short passage.
“Given how(i) patent the shortcomings of the standard economic model are in its portrayal of human behavior, the failure of many economists to respond to them is astonishing. They continue to fill the journals with yet more proofs of yet more (ii) improbable theorems. Others, by contrast, accept the criticisms as a challenge, seeking to expand the basic model to embrace a wider range of things people do.”
Alright, now the passage makes a little more sense. Given that the standard model has some obvious flaws when it comes to predicting human behavior, it’s surprising that economists ignore them. Instead, these economist keep producing theories that are unlikely because they’re based on this flawed model. On the other hand, some economists have been working on changing the model so that it is more adept at accounting for human behavior. Yup, C and E are correct.
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