Since becoming commissioner, Mr. Vincente has challenged the

Since becoming commissioner, Mr. Vincente has challenged the dominant firms in European industry more _______ than his smoother predecessors and has consequently acquired many more enemies.

  1. sporadically
  2. irascibly
  3. persistently
  4. pugnaciously
  5. fitfully
  6. judiciously

Sentence Equivalence Questions: Because finding ONE word for the blank just wasn’t tedious enough! If you’re studying for the GRE, sentence equivalence questions can be a bit tricky, and maybe you have some questions about the second Verbal section of PowerPrep. Don’t worry! PrepScholar is here to help walk you through it.

Alright, let’s start by skimming our sentence for any clues as to how our blank relates to the rest of our sentence. Here, we’re actually given a couple of different types of clues that we’ll have to put together to form a complete picture. First, our blank is part of a comparison: Mr. Vincente has challenged of someone more     than his smoother predecessor. So, we know Mr. Vincente is not smooth and that we’re trying to describe a way in which he “challenges” entities. Also, we’re told that “consequently,” or as a result, he’s made many enemies.

So, what do we know about our blank? Well, it should describe challenging someone in a way that is not smooth and would make enemies. WE might guess that something like “aggressively” might fit into our blank. Let’s see if we have a pair of answers that fits the same line of thought as “aggressively.”


If we’ve seen the movie Clueless, we might remember Cher Horowitz telling us that “sporadic” means “once in a while.” And though she may have been a bit clueless, Cher was right—sporadically means “occasionally” or “at irregular intervals,” which does not relate to our prediction “aggressively.” We can eliminate A.



Hmmm. If we aren’t sure about this word, maybe we should skip it and come back. But if we’ve been studying for the GRE for a bit, “irascible” is a word we’ve probably come across. “Irascible” means tending to be easily angered, so “irascibly” is similar to “angrily,” which isn’t an exact synonym of our prediction, but definitely could be along the same lines. We should keep B.



To be “persistent” is to be tenacious or unwilling to give up. This answer doesn’t match our prediction, but it’s easy to see how we might argue for it. However, we need to keep all of our clues in mind—the sentence specifically compared Mr. Vincente’s actions to those of his “smoother” predecessor, and there’s no reason why being “persistent” would make someone not smooth, or tactful. If we aren’t sure, we could leave C in—after all, we would need to find a pair to make this a correct answer anyway—but it’s definitely a questionable choice.



Hmm. Don’t know at all. Maybe it means “like a pug.” Pugs are pretty cute…. If we dont’ know, we should skip and see what else we could get rid of.



While we may think of a “fit” as something that a toddler would throw, “fitfully” actually means intermittently or irregularly. This answer could be a synonym of A, which is a good reminder that we can’t necessarily just look for synonym pairs. We know that A was not a good answer, so neither is E.



To be “judicious” is to show good judgement, but if Mr. Vincente showed good judgement, would he be making enemies? Also, wouldn’t that be smooth or tactful of him? This answer is the opposite of what we want, so we can eliminate F.

At this point, we have B and D remaining and a big ol’ question mark by C. Even if we aren’t sure what “irascibly” and/or “pugnaciously” mean, we know that none of our other answers were very convincing choices (again, C does not really fit all of our clues). Even if we’re guessing a little, we should trust our instincts and go with B and D. And, in fact, since “pugnaciously” means “belligerently” or “combatively,” it seems like we have some good answers here. Let’s double check.

“Since becoming commissioner, Mr. Vincente has challenged the dominant firms in European industry more irascibly / pugnaciously than his smoother predecessors and has consequently acquired many more enemies.”

Yes, these answers work better than any of our other answers and both give us the idea that Vincente is perhaps overly aggressive. B and D are good answers.


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