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3 Step Process for Text Completion Questions of the GRE

Text completion questions on GRE are analogous to sentence completion. However, there are a few significant differences. It comes with 1, 2, or 3 blanks for which you must select the appropriate word or words. Each of the blanks has three answer choices; you must select all three right answers to get the question correct. To pitch in to master this type of GRE, here are the three-step processes you should follow on test day.

Three-Step Process for Text Completion

Let’s understand it with an example.

Despite Eric’s long battle with illness, the dancer displayed astonishing _______ of motion on stage.


1. Read-only the sentence

Do not look at the answer choices. It will distract you if you read them before you comprehend the sentence. 

2. Find the target, clue and the pivot

  • The target is the thing in the sentence that the blank is illustrating. Here, the target is simply Eric (the dancer).
  • The clue is what forces the contents of the blank to be ideally predictable. Look for dramatic action or emotion. The clue should tell us more about the target (Eric).

In this case, the clue is “displayed astonishing motion on stage”.

  • The pivot is what decides the relationship between the blank and the clue. Will the blank agree with the clue? Or will the blank disagree with the clue? It depends on the pivot. 

Here, the pivot word “despite” indicates the opposite direction. So, you can get the idea that in the blank we should put a positive-sounding word something like gracefulness”.

Good quality


Here are some pivot words you should keep in mind.

Not only…But alsoThoughAs a result
In additionYetThus
Semicolon(;)On the other hand
Colon(:)In spite of 
In factAlthough
Just asOn the contrary

3. Compare to each answer choices

Insert the word into the blank one at a time, match to your fill-in, and mark down Good (✓), Bad (x), Sort Of (~), or Unknown (?).

hesitancy = doubtfulness
extension = addition
indolence = ??
queasiness = sick

You might have marked like this

A x
B ~
C x
D ?
E x

Here, “Despite” is a detour road sign suggesting that the correct answer will contrast with the fact that the dancer has endured a long battle with illness. So, the answer is “fluency”. It best matches with the word we guessed “gracefulness”. The sentence is not limited to a particular style of dance; your answer should not be too specific for the context. 

How important is vocabulary?

The questions are full of tough vocabulary- not just in the answer choices, but also even in the sentence themselves. Your mastery of immense GRE appropriate words is the biggest factor that will determine your success.

Sometimes, it may also happen that you may get a lot of context for the vocabulary from the sentence.  However, it will take time to read the sentences. You should probably get started to enrich your vocabulary. You don’t have any option apart from making your vocabulary strong. We can help you with that. Download the WordsCoach app from our website, and learn 10 new words on a daily basis. In addition, it comes up with the synonyms, antonyms, and how you can use them in a sentence. Thus, you can learn words easily and in context. Here is a screenshot for the reference.

Also, read our other article based on how you increase your vocabulary in just 9 easy ways. 

Hope it helps!! Happy Learning

Written by,
Jaini Bhavsar (There’s always room for bliss.)
30th June 2020
Connect with me on LinkedIn

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