The traditional gap between theorists and experimentalists is

The traditional gap between theorists and experimentalists is (i) _____ as one of the haughty high priests versus pugnacious pragmatists. But the reality is more often that one researcher does not understand another’s jargon, or is afraid to ask stupid questions, or is hesitant about giving up vital and hard-won information to a distant colleague. These were the kinds of (ii) _____ that Dr. Sonnenwald was able to (iii) _______, leading to greater cooperation between theorists and experimentalists.

Blank (i)

  1. often caricatured
  2. most accurately described
  3. unnecessarily lamented

Blank (ii)

  1. deceptions
  2. collusions
  3. barriers

Blank (iii)

  1. propagate
  2. dismantle
  3. identify

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!

Lots of information and three blanks? No problem! Let’s start by doing a quick pass over this paragraph to look for clues as to how our blanks relate. We should note that we have a sentence that is already complete (that doesn’t have any blanks); usually the test makers don’t just throw in extra sentences, so it’s likely that this one may have some clues.

The first sentence is missing information that relates the “traditional gap between theorists and experimentalists” and information that seems to describe a way people might describe or perceive this gap (it’s hard to know without the blank). The next sentence begins with the contrast word “but” and goes on to describe the “reality”—we should note for when we fill in our first blank that the description in the first sentence is apparently inaccurate—and goes on to describe how the two groups may not understand each other or communicate well.

Our third sentence begins with an important pronoun, “these.” “These” is significant because it must refer back to something in the previous sentence. Whatever “these” are, they are something Dr. Sonnenwald was able to do something with, which led to better cooperation between the two groups mentioned.

Ok, let’s pass back over and try filling in the blanks. Starting with the first blank, we know from information later in the paragraph that the description of this “gap” as “haughty high priests versus pugnacious pragmatists” is not necessarily correct (also it’s super wordy, I mean, really, who talks like that?). We might predict then that our first blank should convey that this gap is “mistaken as one of…” It may not be a great prediction, but it’s certainly serviceable to help us start wading through these answer choices. Let’s see what could possibly work.

often caricatured

We’ve probably been to a street fair, or carnival, or Bar Mitzvah where some artist was drawing comical pictures of people with huge heads and exaggerated features, and we might recall that that guy was drawing “caricatures.” A caricature is usually an exaggerated representation of a person or type of person, but we should keep in mind that the GRE loves to play with using words outside of their usual context. Here, “caricatured” could just mean “exaggerated,” and given that almost silly description of “priest” versus “pragmatists,” it seems like “caricatured” could possibly fit. At any rate, to say the gap is “exaggerated” would convey that it is not the “reality,” which is what we were going for when we came up with our prediction, so even though this doesn’t match, we still should leave A in.

most accurately described

Nope. This answer would directly contradict with the fact that the next sentence begins “but the reality” and describes a more accurate understanding of this gap. We can eliminate B.

unnecessarily lamented

To “lament” something is to mourn or weep for it. This doesn’t make sense in the context of our sentence, so we can eliminate C.

Alright, blank (i) down. Let’s keep on truckin. As we noted before, the second blank should refer back to something in the previous sentence, which we know from the phrase “these were the kinds of” leading up to it. THe sentence before described a situation in which people misunderstood one another, didn’t want to look stupid, or were afraid to be candid. All of these things could be described as problems, so let’s see if there’s an answer for our second blank that’s similar to “problems.”

deceptions

“Deception” implies something deliberately misleading, but other than the fact that we know they may not want to give up all of their information, we have nothing in our previous sentence that implies that these two groups would necessarily want to trick one another. We can eliminate D since it doesn’t add up with the information from our previous sentence.

collusions

To “collude” is to work together in a way that is nefarious. We certainly don’t have any information in the previous sentence that these two groups would work together, much less in a devious way. We also don’t know if the members of each group work together to plot against the other. So, it doesn’t seem like E works either.

barriers

Aha! While not a perfect match, this answer is most similar to our prediction, and all of the situations in the previous sentence were things that would keep the two groups from working well together, which could definitely be described as “barriers,” or impediments. F seems like a solid answer.

Ok, so, last blank. Whatever Dr. Sonnenwald was able to do with these “barriers” led to “cooperation.” It sounds like the good Dr. was perhaps able to “break down” these barriers? Let’s see if any of our answers match.

propagate

To “propagate” something is to spread it and/or enable it to spread. If Dr. S spread barriers that hardly seems like it would help people cooperate. We can eliminate G.

dismantle

This answer is a synonym of our prediction “break down.” To dismantle something is to take it apart or deconstruct it. H seems like an answer we should leave in.

identify

Tempting. To break down barriers, we must often first identify that they exist. However, the sentence implies that these barriers were already known and that Dr. S was actually responsible for getting rid of them, enabling people to cooperate. This answer just doesn’t go far enough, so we can eliminate I.

Let’s plug in all of our answers and make sure they work.

“The traditional gap between theorists and experimentalists is (i) often caricatured as one of the haughty high priests versus pugnacious pragmatists. But the reality is more often that one researcher does not understand another’s jargon, or is afraid to ask stupid questions, or is hesitant about giving up vital and hard-won information to a distant colleague. These were the kinds of (ii) barriers that Dr. Sonnenwald was able to (iii) dismantle, leading to greater cooperation between theorists and experimentalists.”

Yup! Now the paragraph makes a little more sense. A, F, and H are correct.

 

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