The playwright’s approach is ___ in that her works ___ the theatrical

The playwright’s approach is (i)_________ in that her works (ii)_________ the theatrical devices normally used to create drama on the stage.

Blank (i)

  1. pedestrian
  2. startling
  3. celebrated

Blank (ii)

  1. jettison
  2. experiment with
  3. distill

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 second 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!

Wow. Not a whole lot of information here, but let’s look for any clues in signal words or sentence structure that might give us an idea as to how our blanks relate to one another and the rest of the sentence. Hmm. Our first blank is followed by “in that,” which signals that the second part of the sentence elaborates on the ideas in the first part. Ok. That is, moderately helpful—EXCEPT both blanks seem like they could provide a clue for the other. That makes things tricky. Are there any other clues, though?

Well, it’s not ideal, but in this case, it looks like one thing we’re going to have to consider is what answers pair well together. There’s one other subtlety we might pick up on, though, if we read carefully. The sentence says her works do something to the devices normally used to create drama on the stage. That “normally” could maybe be a clue in that it almost seems to imply that her work does not follow a normal pattern. Of course here we could be dead wrong—maybe the sentence says she “closely adheres” to these normal devices, but let’s go out on a limb and guess that she doesn’t. If we find a good pair, we’ll know we have some potential answers—if not, we’ll revise our prediction and try again.

Since we’re making a prediction about our second blank first, let’s start there and work backwards. We can predict that our second blank might say she “abandons” these devices that are “normally used.” Let’s see if there’s an answer that matches.


To “jettison” something is literally to throw or drop something from an aircraft or vessel, usually in order to make it lighter. However, we know that the writers of the GRE love to play with the context in which a word can be used, and to “jettison” something could just mean to figuratively cast it aside or discard it. This is pretty similar to what we were guessing a good answer might be, so let’s keep it.

experiment with

The playwright’s work certainly could “experiment with” or test out normal devices, but it almost seems like this would work better if our sentence talked about “abnormal devices.” In other words, using “normal devices” doesn’t seem like much of an experiment. This phrase could logically work, and we don’t have a TON of clues, so we’ll have to leave it in. However, we should note that D seemed like a more logical action given that the object was “normal devices.”


Hmm. This could also work. Her works could “distill” or boil down normal devices—but it’s a little unclear what that might entail. In other words, we don’t have any evidence that there’s anything to strip away about these “devices.” Again, without a whole lot of clues it’s hard to immediately say this is wrong, BUT it doesn’t seem like a very good answer. We should definitely go ahead and start testing out our answers for blank (i) while assuming that “jettisons” is correct for blank (ii).

Let’s see how our choice affects our sentence:

“The playwright’s approach is (i)_________ in that her works (ii) jettisons the theatrical devices normally used to create drama on the stage.”

Ok, assuming that D is correct, the first part of our sentence should describe the playwright’s approach based on the fact that her work casts aside theatrical norms. Let’s keep it simple and say that if her work casts aside what is “normal,” then her approach must be different.


If you’ve been studying GRE vocab with PrepScholar, you probably know that pedestrian doesn’t just refer to people who use the crosswalk. “Pedestrian” as an adjective can also refer to something that is prosaic or unimaginative, common in a way that makes it boring. This doesn’t seem to describe something that “jettisons” norms—quite the opposite! And we didn’t really have anything that was the opposite of “jettison” (the closest was “experiments with,” but even then that implies that there is an element of originality to her work). A doesn’t seem like a very likely answer.


Hmm. This doesn’t match our prediction exactly, but something different from what we are expecting can indeed be “startling.” Let’s keep B.


Well, it would be logical for a playwright who casts aside what is usual in favor of something innovative to be “celebrated”—after all, Brecht and Shakespeare didn’t exactly get famous by doing what everyone else was doing. BUT we just don’t have any evidence in our sentence (even when we fill in “jettisons”) that the playwright’s work is popular or well-received. Not following conventions could just as easily make her work awful! On the other hand, something that casts aside what is expected could absolutely be “startling.” It seems that C is too much of an assumption.

Since we were kind of guessing, let’s make sure our answers make sense:

“The playwright’s approach is (i) startling in that her works (ii) jettisonsthe theatrical devices normally used to create drama on the stage.”

Yes! This sentence makes sense, and we noted in our search that the other answers don’t seem to agree with what little clues we have. B and D are correct.


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