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Advanced Triple Blanks
In this lesson video, we are gonna go through Triple Blank in very close detail here. It’s not just the Advance Triple Blank, but really, the art of the Triple Blank or the art of the text completion. And what I mean by that, we’re gonna focus on what makes a text completion, a text completion on the GRE, versus just a paragraph with a bunch of blanks and a bunch of vocab following.
So I want you to read this paragraph, starting here with classical music. Then I want you to get to the end and only then, look at the vocab words. Okay, I assume you’ve paused the video, of course, and you’ve done exactly that. And so, what did you notice? Well, if you read from classical music to quality of playing, you probably understood most of what was going on.
There was nothing really too confusing here. What was confusing was when you got to the vocabulary at the end. That’s where things got tough, and a lot of people think that’s what a classic GRE text completion is about. Vocab, and that’s not entirely true. Indeed, this really isn’t a GRE text completion question, because this part up here, is too straight forward.
And arguably, some of the words here are just too difficult, at least as far as the difficulty of the paragraph is concerned. What the GRE is trying to do, is to throw writing at you, that’s of an elevated style. It may be slightly academic, it may be something that you’d encounter in the New York Courier or the New York Times art section.
But, it’s something that you have to really decipher and work through, so that when you get to the answer choices. You should probably have a rough idea of what the correct answer is, but that’s of course, only once you’ve actually deciphered the paragraph. So, what does an actual GRE text completion look like? So we’re gonna take this exact same thought-capade, but we’re gonna give it the treatment, so I want you to bear with me, trying to read the entire thing.
Starting with acutely all the way down, of course, to pop diva. Okay, I assume you’ve done that and right away, you can see that you’re in a totally different world. Now, I am not saying that every GRE text completion is like this. I’m using this as an example to show how difficult it can be. Of course, there’s a massive rift between the first text completion I showed you, that didn’t pass muster, as far as a GRE text completion went, cuz it was too straightforward, the meaning it was trying to convey.
Here, we’ve taken it to the other end, where you would only see this in the hardest of the GRE verbal sections. But what we see here is that, wow, same meaning, but that meaning is very difficult to get at, especially if you didn’t first see this one right here. So imagine just diving into here. It’s gonna take you a lot longer to figure out what’s going on.
Before we do that, a couple of things. First off, notice the vocabulary down here. I’m guessing, you probably know every word in the answer choices. And that is what we see these days on the GRE. The idea of, we’re not just gonna test you on a bunch of vocabulary words that you’ve crammed.
We’re gonna see how well you can work with this elevated prose. Therefore an important takeaway from this lesson video is don’t just learn vocabulary words hoping for a higher score. Sure, learn them, but also do reading at this elevated level. I’m gonna go through that here in a second. But to reiterate.
Triple blanks are difficult because of the level of the writing in the paragraph, not necessarily because of the vocab. And so, it’s about how well you understand the context of the paragraph, not how well you understand vocab words in isolation. And there is the key. Learn to read this elevated prose.
We have here, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times. What a lot of students will do, is they’ll go to these web pages, or home sites and look at the latest headline, huh, what’s happening today? That’s not the sort of reading I’m talking about. I’m talking about the art section and the critic section, where you have to read a review on the latest exhibition at the MoMA or at some new composers work.
Something you would never read otherwise, but that has similar writing to what you will see on the GRE. That’s what’s gonna help you become better at these text completions. Now, you’re not just sifting through a bunch of prose, just for fun, but you, of course, are trying to get this overall meaning. So remember that first paragraph I showed you?
That’s the simplified version. That’s the way we think in general. What you wanna get from this complex version is that simple version, so that you can easily figure out what words go in the blanks, and then of course, match them with the answer choices. And it’s that idea of putting all of these pieces together to form that coherent meeting.
And then hopefully, the answer choices should fall into place, because the answer choices don’t have vocab words usually that are that difficult. So what we’re gonna do, of course, is to decipher the sentence with a paragraph first, and then, once we know what goes in the blanks, we can work with the answer choices given. And that, of course, is a strategy that you should use as well.
So I’ve taken just the first part of this massive Triple Blank, and what I’ve done here is, I’ve underlined a few things, and I’ve bolded some things. The parts that I’ve underlined will help you understand the meaning. They are the clues of the sentence, whereas the boldface part, those are turns of phrases, the kind of verbiage that the New York writer prides him or herself on, this writing with flair.
But, you’re not necessarily gonna use that to get at the meaning. So, heavy with gravitas is not that important when you have long on years, which basically means old. So let’s take the first clue, torn a page from the pop-music playbook basically copied what pop-music is doing. So what is pop-music doing?
Well, performers who are long on years or old performers, notice I’m jumping over the heavy with gravitas, which just means really serious. No longer adorn CD covers, so old people are no longer on CD covers, and they have been blank by, aha, armada of svelte 20-somethings, very lofty phrase, just means young people. So old people have been replaced with young people.
You can see, I’m already putting my own word into the blank here. That can be very helpful as well, it’s what you wanna do as soon as you think based on the context that you have the answer. But we want to have more context here to figure out what goes in that first blank. And it says here, young listeners classical music promoters hope to woo. Aha!
So classical music is going out of it’s way to attract young listeners. And that’s why it’s copying pop music. And so therefore, it wants to put, not old people, but young people there, because it is aware that it is not doing so well. It has to change its strategy. So, therefore we can already start coming up with a word or words for the first blank.
And so, how about losing the listeners, not as popular as it used to be. Now, you can write this on a scratch piece of paper, cuz you will have a scratch piece of paper during the test, and you may wanna already start doing that in practice. So, if you’re taking a practice test at home, get used to scribbling down a couple of notes in your own words.
And, you don’t, of course, have to do that on a single or a double blank text completion, but on these really long ones, you might wanna do that in case you get lost in the mix. So we have losing listeners, not as popular as it used to be. And then, for the second blank, replaced. At this time, you should also just go to the answer choices for the first blank and the second blank, because you figured them out.
Don’t feel like you have to write down everything, and then go look at the answer choices. So that’s good. Not too bad, once we figure out what is important, and once we come up with our own words. Now, we aren’t done, of course, because there’s more to the sentence.
So I’ve added here, for this audience, this is the end now, exquisite playing, great playing for the young audience is blank as the effortless hipness. Again, we’re going back to the idea that classical music promoters are trying to woo or get this audience interested in classical music. This audience being the young audience, it’s not about exquisite playing really, of course, it’s about the coolness, how hip these performers look.
These svelte 20 somethings and therefore, exquisite playing is not as important. And now I have my three words of course and I can go to the answer choices. And let’s start with the first one, we have quickly hurtling into oblivion as the best answer. It didn’t quite match, it’s not as popular as it used to be. It’s more extreme and hyperbolic, but it has that same negative meaning.
Neither of these of a higher calling. Or becoming increasingly popular work. But notice they put the simple word there, but then, just come up with the opposite meaning. Second blank, we have served as mentors not replaced, eclipsed in appeal. Be careful here.
Who’s doing the eclipsing? We wanna make sure it’s the younger performers who are eclipsing the older ones, not vice versa, so we can get rid of both of those. And of course, been supplanted by matches up pretty nicely with replaced. And that leaves us with the third blank again, which is not as important as. Ultimately more important is the opposite.
On equal footing suggests that they are the same. And therefore hardly alluring is our answer. So again, this of course is very specific attack on the question, but when we step back for a second, what’s the one general attack? It’s to look for those clues, to decipher what the paragraph is saying, to get that big meaning, cuz then everything will fall into place.
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