Education & Culture

GRE Triple Blank Text Completion Questions

Published : 23 Nov 2023 12:15 AM


James Maxwell once remarked that the best scientists are the (i) ____________ ones; not hemmed in by the (ii) ____________ of their respective fields, they are able to approach problems with a(n) (iii) ____________ mind, so to speak.

Select the answer for BLANK i.

A) adaptable

 B) revolutionary

 C) ignorant

Select the answer for BLANK ii.

D) myopia

 E) preconceptions

 F) inertia

Select the answer for BLANK iii.

G) fertile

 H) rational

 I) empty


i: C) ignorant

ii: E) preconceptions

iii: I) empty


Here it may be tempting to read the sentence and plug in (A), “adaptable”,” or (B), “revolutionary”. Both answers make sense. In fact, you could construct a legitimate sentence using (A) and (D) myopia/(E) preconceptions or (B) and (D)/(E). However, how would you create a coherent sentence with the third blank?

Neither fertile nor rational are really backed up by clues in the passage. Not being limited by their field’s way of thinking doesn’t quite imply a fertile mind. More likely, having a mind that is not stuck in a certain way of thinking would be one that is empty. You may argue that empty mind is too negative, but notice the words ‘so to speak.’ This is a phrase that translates to “metaphorically.”

Completing the third blank with ‘empty’ allows us to work back through the first two blanks. We want scientists with an empty mind, thus (C) ignorant works best in the first blank. From there, we can see that E is good for the second blank, since preconceptions are ideas, and if a mind is not hemmed in by preconceptions, it means it contains no limiting ideas… and a mind that doesn’t have ideas could also be described as empty.

To be ignorant of what is going on in a specific field is not to be hemmed in by the preconceptions. Scientists are free to approach a problem on their own terms, learning as they go.


Heinrich Feyermahn, in insisting that Galileo did not fully uphold the tenets of scientific rationalism, does not ____________ the Italian astronomer, but rather the very edifice of Western thought. For if Galileo is the purported exemplar of rational thinking, and yet is ____________, then the history of science cannot be understood as an endless succession of scientists carrying out their work free of all-too-human biases. Thus, Feyermahn admonishes, in faithfully chronicling the sweep of science in the last 300 years, historiographers would be ____________ not to include the human foibles that were part of even the most ostensibly Apollonian endeavors.

Select the answer for BLANK i.

A) exclusively implicate

 B) partially repudiate

 C) fully espouse

Select the answer for BLANK ii.

D) found wanting

 E) considered enlightened

 F) dismissed as inconsequential

Select the answer for BLANK iii.

G) prudent

 H) remiss

 I) contrarian


i: A) exclusively implicate

ii: D) found wanting

iii: H) remiss


Feyermahn finds fault with Galileo for not being completely rational, but he doesn’t place all of the blame only on Galileo. Rather, his contention is that all of scientific thought is built on human endeavor, which is susceptible to biases and therefore not entirely rational. For the first blank we want words showing that Feyermahn is not criticizing only Galileo. A), ‘Exclusively implicate’ works best.

The second sentence implies that Galileo is not perfectly rational, and thus D), ‘found wanting’, which means lacking, works best. F, ‘dismissed as inconsequential’ is too extreme. The sentence is only implying that Galileo came up short. The third sentence moves to modern chroniclers of science, who Feyermahn urges to be aware of the human weaknesses of scientists. Those writers of science who choose not to would be remiss, or negligent. I, ‘contrarian’ implies a conscious obduracy that is not supported by the context.

FAQ: Why is “partially repudiate” incorrect?

A: “Repudiate” means roughly to go against or to deny the truth or validity of something. So repudiate does kind of fit, but the word that throws everything off is the word “partially.”

Feyermahn’s criticism of Galileo’s scientific rationalism brings into question the entire foundation and history of western scientific thought:

“does not ____________ the Italian astronomer, but rather the very edifice of Western thought.”

That is a pretty big thing- it’s basically everything!

“Partially” means only a part, not the whole. For example, if you only write the introduction for your GRE essays but not the body or conclusion, you only did a part of the work. You did not do all of the work. Thus, you “partially” did the essay.

To say that Feyermahn “partially repudiated” Galileo would be to say he only questioned or denied part of Galileo. But we know from the rest of the passage that he called into question both Galileo’s entire body of scientific work and the entire historical view of western science. So partially repudiated just doesn’t fit the blank.