That the President manages the economy is an assumption (i) _____ the prevailing wisdom that dominates electoral politics in the United States. As a result, presidential elections have become referenda on the business cycle, whose fortuitous turnings are (ii) _____ the President. Presidents are properly accountable for their executive and legislative performance, and certainly their actions may have profound effects on the economy. But these effects are (iii) ______ . Unfortunately, modern political campaigns are fought on the untenable premise that Presidents can deliberately produce precise economic results.
- peripheral to
- central to
- at odds with
- justifiably personified in
- erroneously attributed to
- occasionally associated with
- usually long-lasting
- regrettably unnoticeable
- largely unpredictable
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 on Practice Test 1. Those three-blank text completion questions are the WORST—but never fear, PrepScholar has got your back!
Alright, this short paragraph has a lot of information, but instead of getting overwhelmed, we should keep in mind that this means there’s a lot of potential for clues as to what information will fit into our blank. In fact, the final sentence seems to be a sort of conclusion, and it is a complete sentence without any missing information—it could be just an extra distraction, but it’s actually more likely that it is a HUGE clue that the GRE writers had to include in order to be able to defend each blank as having one unequivocally correct answer.
Another thing we might note is that each blank is contained in its own sentence, which could help us break things up, and the final blank seems pretty far removed from the other two, with another complete sentence separating our second and third blanks. If we’re feeling trapped, it may be a good idea to start with that third blank, but in this case, there are so many clues that we might try to see if we can fill them in in order.
First, let’s take a pass reading through the paragraph to see what we can gain. The first sentence tells us that the assumption that the president manages the economy somehow relates to elections in the U.S. The second sentence begins “as a result,” which means it might provide clues for the relationship missing in our first blank by giving us an effect of that relationship: apparently elections are determined by business cycles, and the turnings of these cycles are somehow related to the president (we might keep in mind that the first sentence called this relationship an “assumption”).
The next sentence, with no missing information, tells us some seemingly unrelated information about what presidents are accountable for, then adds that their actions “may have profound effects on the economy.” The next sentence begins “BUT,” which tells us that the information in our blank should contrast with what we found in the previous sentence, these effects are perhaps not profound in some way. Finally, the last sentence sums it all up: campaigns are build on the “untenable,” or unsupported, idea that presidents can directly affect the economy.
Wow. That was a LOT to process, but as long as we kept our cool, we’ll notice that we have all of the information we need. Our first blank should describe a relationship between the idea that the president can manage the economy and elections, which we know from the rest of the passage (especially the last paragraph) is actually very important in electoral politics regardless of if it’s true. We can predict, then, that our blank should say something like “key in,” let’s see if we have any answers that match.
Our “peripheral vision” describes what we see off to the side of the center of our focus, so it makes sense that “peripheral” means something that is sort of to the side figuratively, or secondary. This does not match our prediction, so we can eliminate A.
This answer describes the assumption as a key part of electoral politics, so B matches our prediction. Let’s keep it.
at odds with
This answer suggests that the assumption and the reality of electoral politics are contrary to one another, which we know from our passage is not true. We can eliminate C.
One down, two to go. The second blank should describe the relationship between the turns in the business cycle and the president (while we should always make an effort to predict answers, it can be helpful to glance at the answers if we’re trying to determine what part of speech they’re looking for—here we want a full phrase that describes a relationship!). We know from the first and last sentences that the president does not actually manage the economy, or “business cycle,” but that this is an assumption or untenable premise that affects how people vote. We might predict, then, that our phrase should say something like “falsely blamed on” (this may not be a great guess because “fortuitous” and “blamed” don’t seem to go together, but we’re focused on predicting the intent of the blank).
justifiably personified in
Hmm. This answer makes it sound like the president embodies the business cycle, and rightly so. This doesn’t fit either part of our prediction, so we can eliminate D.
erroneously attributed to
“Erroneously,” meaning without basis, is a pretty close synonym for “falsely,” and “attributed to” is a better way of saying “blamed on.” E matches our prediction, so we should keep it.
occasionally associated with
Hmm. This answer is partly true, but the passage made it sound as though the economy and the president are more than just “occasionally” associated with one another—in fact, this association has a bearing on how people vote. We should eliminate F because “occasionally” doesn’t fit the context of our passage.
One more blank! Again, this third blank is in a sentence that begins with a contrast word (“but”), so we should expect the information in our blank to describe the effects the president has on the economy in a way that contrasts with “profound,” which is how they were described in the previous sentence. However, we should note that we are not looking for an exact opposite because then the passage wouldn’t be logical—it can’t just say two contradictory things. Rather, we want something that will show that, even though the president has some bearing on the economy, the connection is not as strong as people think. This is a tough blank to predict because a few things might work—perhaps the results are “short-lived,” or maybe they are “somewhat random”—we can’t know for sure, just that we need to contrast with “profound.”
If the effects are “long-lasting,” that would be too similar to being “profound.” We can eliminate G.
Hmm. “Unnoticeable” does contrast with “profound,” but can something be BOTH “profound” AND “unnoticeable”? That seems pretty unlikely. This answer seems to contradict rather than just contrast with the information in the previous sentence, so let’s take a look at I.
Ok, this answer seems to make some sense given our context. While the president may have “profound” effects on the economy, which would be a good reason to link the president and the economy, if these effects are “unpredictable,” that would contrast in a way that shows us why we still shouldn’t attribute shifts in the business cycle directly to the president. I is a good answer.
Let’s plug all of this in:
That the President manages the economy is an assumption (i) central to the prevailing wisdom that dominates electoral politics in the United States. As a result, presidential elections have become referenda on the business cycle, whose fortuitous turnings are (ii) erroneously attributed to the President. Presidents are properly accountable for their executive and legislative performance, and certainly their actions may have profound effects on the economy. But these effects are (iii) largely unpredictable . Unfortunately, modern political campaigns are fought on the untenable premise that Presidents can deliberately produce precise economic results.
Yes, these choices complete the passage in a way that is logically consistent with the final summary sentence. B, E, and I are correct.
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