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Difficult Words

In this video, we’re going to deal with a text completion that’s difficult. And it’s difficult because of the words in the sentence, meaning you’re going to read the sentence and not know exactly what it’s trying to say because of these couple of words.

So reading through this sentence, we have “never one to mince his words”. So right at the beginning, you may not know what it means to mince one’s words, so that’s already a problem. Comma, “Antonio was the perfect ; even an outright fabrication was delivered with aplomb”. So therein lies the two problems, two words we don’t know: aplomb and to mince. Does that mean this question is unsolvable?

That you might as well just guess A through E? The answer to that question is actually no. You can still work with the sentence, but you should break down the sentence based on the words you do know, not the ones you don’t. So let’s just start from here.

“Antonio was the perfect ; even an outright fabrication”. What’s a fabrication? You fabricate something, you make it up, you essentially lie. So he “was the perfect ; even an outright fabrication was delivered with” this word we don’t know.

So at that point, we can say, “Well, was he able to lie really easily?” Well, it was delivered with aplomb. So even a complete lie, he was able to deliver with maybe calmness would work. So now you can actually look at the word or words you don’t know and logically think what they must mean based on the sentence, but in this case, we may even have enough to figure out whether if this word is a positive word or a negative word.

So working through here, “Antonio was the perfect “. He was able to lie, a complete lie he was able to say with maybe calmness, maybe aplomb, but we know that he’s a liar.

So therefore, the word is negative. Now, we can go through the answer choices. So we want, to again, make sure. We don’t necessarily have exactly our own word we know, at least know the connotation. I could put my own word here.

I would just call it not a lie but actually a liar. Now again, this interpretation is not foolproof, but based on the sentence, it sounds like, most likely, he is a liar.

He’s able to lie really easily. So what word means liar? Well, let’s start with ‘hack’. You may not know what hack means, but it definitely has a negative connotation, so let’s leave it. An idler, answer choice B.

Well to idle is just to hang around, not do much. An idler is one who idles. It’s not really the same as a liar. Idler isn’t one who tells lies or fabrications. So therefore, you can get rid of idler.

Benefactor, note the root ben-, which is good, kind. Benefactor is someone who’s on your side, so nothing to do with the sentence. Then we look at D, dissembler. Does that mean to assemble something?

Well, this is dissemble, not disassemble. So again, we don’t know what the word is, but if you don’t know what a word is, don’t get rid of it. Just leave it where it is. Let’s look at E though: official.

Well, he’s a liar. Officials, by definition, they are not liars, so that’s gone. Now, we’re left with ‘A’ and ‘D’, and that’s fine. At first, this was a question that may have been completely overwhelming.

It may have left you befuddled, but at this point, it’s now a 50/50. Let’s look at the word ;hack’ now. What other word do you know that means hack? Well, as a GRE vocabulary word, you may have seen hackneyed.

Hackneyed means something that’s trite, and so a hack is one who writes trite novels. So it’s not quite what we’re going for. Someone who writes boring scripts, for instance, is a hack.

A hack. So that doesn’t mean necessarily that they’re a liar. But then, we have dissembler, and a person whose’s a dissembler, could they be a liar? Maybe, maybe not. And I think at this point, this is where you need to know when to just guess and move on.

So maybe you think hack relates to hackneyed. It doesn’t quite work, and so you circle dissembler. You may be wrong, but at least, it’s a 50/50. The good news in this case is s-e-m-b, those 4 letters I just underlined, dissembler, those come from semblance, one’s facial expression.

So, by adding dis- in front of s-e-m-b, one’s face, you put on a false face. So you lie, and therefore, that’s the answer. Now, let’s try this again; that is, going through sentence with difficult words and see if we can hack through it.

OK. “The judge cared not one whit for and would liberally berate any who embellished their testimonies with elaborate, pleading gestures, or worse yet, broke into feigned bouts of sobbing”. So let’s look through here, words we don’t know.

Whit. OK, we’re going to break down the sentence, but we’re going to ignore whit. “Liberally berate”, you may know this as a negative connotation but you’re not quite sure. “Any who embellished their testimonies”.

OK. So embellish, you have a general sense of, maybe not exactly, but you know people are giving these testimonies, and in these testimonies, they have these pleading gestures.

I’m underlining ‘pleading gestures’ not giving the squiggly things, so pleading gestures is the part you actually know. That’s breaking down the sentence. So he didn’t care for people who had too many pleading gestures such as crying, please begging, judge don’t find me guilty, that sort of thing.

So now, you’ve broken down the sentence. You’ve made it easier for you to kind of come up with your own word. And again, we’re ignoring those words. Notice how we didn’t really take too much time worrying about embellished or berate or even whit.

This is, by the way, w-h-i-t not w-i-t. So we don’t worry about things like that, we try to focus on the part of the sentence we knew. And then, or at this point, we should now be able to come up with our own word, or at least think of the connotations of positive or negative. Well, it’s something negative. It doesn’t like this.

If you do this, if you start sobbing, it’s not a good thing. So what word is negative and means maybe breaking into sobs and pleading? Maybe a word like theatrics, some negative word like that.

So we start here with answer choice A. Go A through E, starting with A. A is dissimilitude. If something is similar, it has similitude, so to speak. If something is dissimilitude, it doesn’t match up.

Does that have to do with breaking into sobbing, crying in court? Well, no, so we get rid of that. What about histrionics? Is that the same as history? Good question. Well, look at the root here, hist-. Is it the same as history, which has an o-r-y?

Well, not quite because we have a t-r-o in between. So it looks like it’s—we can’t really use roots, can’t rely on roots here. It looks like this may be a different word from history.

So when we don’t know a word, question mark and move on. So we’ve gotten rid of dissimilitude, but we’re going to keep histrionics. What about flamboyance? This seems like a great answer. If you’re flamboyant, you’re flashy. But is that the same as breaking into a long bout or just bouts of sobbing, crying in court, begging to the judge?

Is that the same as being fancy and driving a real expensive car and kind of showing it off, or being a rock star with orange hair? No, because those things are flamboyant.

But this word doesn’t quite mean that. Then there’s the word, prevarication, which is a great GRE word because it always comes up on the test which means lying, or at least, not being direct, kind of beating around the bush.

So that sounds great. If you know that word, just plug it back in here. In fact, that could easily be the answer, right? And that’s why we want to take down the sentence, break it apart, come up with our own word, because we didn’t necessarily ever say lying.

Sure, judges don’t care for lying, most of them at least, but this judge doesn’t care for people who overact and start crying, so we get rid of prevarication.

Argumentation kind of falls in the same category because, obviously, most judges don’t care for people who argue in court, but again, we’re looking at the sentence. We’re looking at our clues, and nowhere in here, do we see clues to support answer choice E. Just like that, it’s the word we don’t know, ‘B’, histrionics.

Don’t be afraid to circle it. Histrionics are theatrics. So someone who is histrionic is melodramatic. They overact, they cry in court as it were, and there’s our answer. So again, try to break down the sentence. Don’t get hung up on the words you don’t know or the phrases that throw you or confuse you, and focus on the parts that you do know.

And if you can’t come up with the exact, think of the overall tone of the blank. Is it positive or is it negative? Then of course, once you come up with your own word, you want to go through here and eliminate.

And if you can’t quite guess or come up with an exact answer if it’s between two, just guess and move on. Don’t spend more time going back to the sentence because once you’ve broken it down and determined the connotation of the word, there’s only so much you can do.

In this case, though, the answer is histrionics, and we can move on.

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