There has been much hand-wringing about how unprepared

There has been much hand-wringing about how unprepared American students are for college. Graff reverses this perspective, suggesting that colleges are unprepared for students. In his analysis, the university culture is largely (i)         entering students because academic culture fails to make connections to the kinds of arguments and cultural references that students grasp. Understandably, many students view academic life as (ii)         ritual.

Blank (i)

  1. primed for
  2. opaque to
  3. essential for

Blank (ii)

  1. an arcane
  2. a laudable
  3. a painstaking

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 4 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’ll want to read through our short passage to look for any information that helps us relate our blanks both to one another and any keywords in the passage. We should also note that we have four sentences but only two blanks. Text completion questions don’t typically give us a lot of extra information, so it seems pretty likely that at least one if not both of our sentence that don’t contain blanks will still contain clues.

These first two sentences give us some background information: Graff, unlike others, believes that “colleges are unprepared for students.” The third sentence, which contains blank (i), begins “in his analysis,” so we know the ideas in this sentence should elaborate on the fact that colleges are not ready for students. Similarly, we should note the word “because” in this sentence, which tells us that the second part of the sentence will provide us with a reason for the first.

So, our blank should somehow related “university culture” to “entering students” in a way that is consistent with Graff’s assertion that colleges are not ready for students as well as the fact that “academic culture” does not “connect” with the types of arguments and cultural references that students might be familiar with. We might predict, then, that our blank should reflect something like “university culture is largely unfamiliar to entering students.”

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.

  1. primed for

To be “primed for” something is to be ready for it, which would contradict the information provided about Graff’s view. We know that our blank should show a relationship between “university culture” and “entering students” that is similar to Graff’s view, though. We can eliminate A because it’s the opposite of what we want.

  1. opaque to

Something that’s “opaque” is cloudy—not necessarily literally, though this word can certainly have a literal meaning, but also perhaps figuratively cloudy, or unclear. This is somewhat similar to our prediction “unfamiliar to,” though not exactly alike. We should keep B, but we’ll check out the last answer just in case.

  1. essential for

We should not assume that “university culture” is somehow “essential” or necessary for new students. This answer actually doesn’t fit our context, which suggests a disconnect between the culture and the students. We can eliminate C.

Alright, so it seems we have an answer for our first blank, let’s keep going. The next sentence begins “understandably,” which again suggests that the ideas in this sentence will build on previous ideas in the passage. In this case, given that academic culture is so unfamiliar and hard to relate to, we want to figure out how it would be perceived by students: as a     ritual. Well, since students can’t connect to academic culture, we want to find a word that will describe “academic life” as a sort of negative ritual. Even if we don’t know exactly what we’re looking for, we can at least look for a choice that has a sort of negative connotation and see if it seems to fit. We can eliminate any choices that are positive or too negative.

  1. an arcane

If we aren’t sure about “arcane,” maybe we should skip this choice for now and come back.

  1. a laudable

We might be a little more familiar with “laudable,” or at least notice its connection to “applaud.” Something that’s “laudable” is worthy of praise, which is positive. We can eliminate E.

  1. a painstaking

Something that is “painstaking” is not “painful,” but rather is done with extreme care. This doesn’t really match our context either, so we can get rid of F.

This only leaves D, and, indeed, something that is “arcane” is outdated or old-fashioned, which in the context of our sentence could definitely be a bad thing. It also makes sense that students wouldn’t be able to connect with something outdated, so D seems like a good answer.

As a final check, let’s go ahead and plug in these answers.

There has been much hand-wringing about how unprepared American students are for college. Graff reverses this perspective, suggesting that colleges are unprepared for students. In his analysis, the university culture is largely (i) opaque to entering students because academic culture fails to make connections to the kinds of arguments and cultural references that students grasp. Understandably, many students view academic life as (ii) an arcane ritual.

Yes, now each sentence in the passage agrees with the previous sentence. As Graff suggested, colleges are not ready for students because they fail to connect to students. This makes academic life seem unclear and old-fashioned to students. B and D are correct.

 

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