But they pay little attention to the opposite and more treacherous failing: false certainty, refusing to confess their mistakes and implicitly claiming (i) ______ , thereby embarrassing the nation and undermining the Constitution, which established various mechanisms of self-correction on the premise that even the wisest men are sometimes wrong and need, precisely when they find it most (ii) ______ , the benefit of (iii) ______ process.
- an adaptable
- a remedial
- an injudicious
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What is this sentence even saying?! It seems to start in the middle of an idea for one thing—and it’s just one LONG sentence after that. Whew. Ok. It is important that we don’t get overwhelmed. The GRE must give us enough clues for our blanks, and even if, as a whole, the sentence is difficult to understand, we can still look for the same types of clues for each blank. Even though this is one long sentence, let’s try to break it into little chunks and just focus on one blank at a time. Maybe then things will start to come together.
Alright, our first part of our sentence is complete and ends in a colon, meaning the rest of the sentence (containing all three blanks) is an explanation, elaboration, or example of how someone “paid little attention” to a “treacherous failing.” Ok, so those things sound pretty bad, ultimately our sentence should have a negative tone, although that doesn’t necessarily mean all of our blanks should. We should note that our first blank is part of a list of three actions. The first actions are “false certainty” (which isn’t really an action and makes this list not parallel and could be contributing to our confusion—no one said text completion sentences had to be well written) and “refusing to confess their mistakes,” which could provide us some clues. Additionally, we should note that these three actions, according to the sentence “undermine the Constitution” which apparently offers “mechanisms for self-correction,” or opportunities to admit you messed up.
Ok, so it’s still pretty hazy what our first blank should say exactly, but that is partly just the nature of this sentence (sidenote: this might be something to mark and come back to if we have time remaining at the end of the section—there’s no point in lingering on ONE question that we aren’t super confident about). However, we do know that the word in our blank should probably relate to making mistakes or taking responsibility—usually we’d predict an answer, but it’s not immediately clear what one could “claim” that has to do with these things. Let’s see if any of our answers seem like they relate.
To be “infallible” is to be incapable of being wrong, so “claiming infallibility” definitely sounds like the action of someone who “refuses to confess their mistakes” and fails to take advantages of “mechanisms of self-correction.” OK, we can see how A might work, but let’s check out other answers, too.
Hm. To be “immune” to something means to be insusceptible to it, or to have a condition not apply. Usually, then, to say someone has “immunity,” they have to have immunity from something, and there are no consequences or conditions that are specifically referenced in our sentence to suggest what this group claimed immunity from. So, while it may sound like good option, “infallibility” is definitely a little more clear in the context of our sentence. We can eliminate B.
To be “impartial” is to be unbiased. Again, while this may seem like a word that fits the theme of our sentence (like “immunity”), ultimately we don’t have support that there’s anything to be “impartial” about. A is still the most well-supported answer it seems, so we can eliminate C.
Ok, so we have an answer for our first blank, let’s keep reading. We should note that the word “which” sets of a dependent clause—something with a subject and verb that cannot be a sentence on its own, but is still more-or-less a self-contained idea. So we might focus here and see if we can find answers for our second two blanks. We can always look back in the first part of the sentence if we find we don’t have enough clues.
“[The constitution] established various mechanisms of self-correction on the premise that even the wisest men are sometimes wrong and need, precisely when they find it most (ii) ______ , the benefit of (iii) ______ process.”
Alright, our third blank might be easier to fill in first. We’re looking for some type of process that allows for “self-correction” when someone is “wrong.” We might just steal the word “corrective” from “self-corrective” as our prediction for this blank. Let’s see what we come up with.
To adapt is to change to become more suitable. While both “corrective” and “adaptable” imply a change, “adaptable” doesn’t carry the meaning that something was wrong or in need of correction, so G doesn’t seem like a very likely choice.
We may remember that “remedial” classes in high school were designed to give a little extra help to those who struggled with concepts the first time around. We may also note that this word seems closely related to “remedy.” Indeed, “remedial” describes something that is meant to “correct or improve” something in the way a remedy or cure might. H seems close to our prediction “corrective,” so let’s keep it.
Something “injudicious” is not judicious or imprudent, unwise. This certainly doesn’t match “corrective,” so we can eliminate I.
Alright, this last blank is a bit of a doozy, but let’s think about we know. We know the beginning of the sentence described a group unwilling to admit that they were wrong. We know that this blank should describe how a “wise man” might feel about admitting he is wrong and seeking a “remedial process.” Well, while generalizations are not usually a good idea, it seems our sentence does lend support to the generalization that people do not like to admit when they are wrong. We might guess, then, that our word in our blank might reflect something like “embarrassing.” This is a bit of a guess, but let’s just see if we can find a match.
Not sure about this word, but it looks like it could be similar to “uncomfortable”? That doesn’t really mean anything as the GRE uses words with misleading roots all the time. So, let’s skip and come back.
Well, “expedited shipping” is when we want to ship something to someone as fast as possible. “Expedient” describes something done quickly and effectively, which doesn’t really seem like it could describe how a wise man might feel about seeking a remedial process. We can eliminate E.
Something that is “imminent” is bound to happen, but our sentence more or less implies that a “remedial process” is not bound to happen—someone must admit he was wrong first! F doesn’t seem like it fits.
Maybe once we plug in our answers this sentence will make more sense?
“But they pay little attention to the opposite and more treacherous failing: false certainty, refusing to confess their mistakes and implicitly claiming (i) infallibility , thereby embarrassing the nation and undermining the Constitution, which established various mechanisms of self-correction on the premise that even the wisest men are sometimes wrong and need, precisely when they find it most (ii) discomfiting , the benefit of (iii) a remedial process.”
Well, it is still, IMHO, not the most well-written sentence, but these answers to give the sentence a more clear meaning. A, D, and H are correct.
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