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Requirement: fill the blank with 2 words choosen from this list, each word should give the sentence the same meaning.

  1. Modern agricultural practices have been extremely successful in increasing the productivity of major food crops, yet despite heavy use of pesticides, __ losses to diseases and insect pests are sustained each year.

    • A. incongruous B. reasonable C. significant D. considerable E. equitable F. fortuitous

My guess: D, E

  1. The judge's standing in the legal community, though shaken by phony allegations of wrongdoing, emerged, at long last, __.
    • A. unqualified B. undiminished C. undecided D. undamaged E. unresolved F. unprincipled

My guess: B, D

It would be great if you could give the answer, as well as explain why made the choice.

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If it is homework (and I honestly think so), add the "homework" tag. – Alenanno Apr 14 '11 at 9:57
It can't be homework, because this is from a test which must be taken without benefit of electronic devices. Likely the OP has a GRE practice book, which would have answers in the back, so presumably he's looking for some kind of explanation. – Robusto Apr 14 '11 at 10:07
@Robusto: Close enough for me. This is homework. – MrHen Apr 14 '11 at 13:15
I don't see how this could possibly be homework, except by some radical interpretation. If 'homework'; means helping someone do something for credit, then Robusto's explanation makes this 'not homework'. – Mitch Apr 14 '11 at 13:26
It is an exercise in the GRE book I am reading. But it is not a homework from my teacher, as I am not a student of any school :) Anyway, I will add homework tag for questions like this. – davidshen84 Apr 15 '11 at 9:01
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The strategy is to see the direction involved on the missing word, Also, temporarily remove everything unnecessary: "The judge's standing emerged _" can get rid of some words that just won't work no matter what, like A and F

  • qn 1: the positive introductory part of the sentence, with the 'despite' are setting up a contrast, so you're expecting a 'loss' of a negative kind. Only C and D are negative losses (and C, 'significant', seems a little -too- negative).

  • qn 2: another contrast, 'though shaken' is negative so you're looking for a positive 'standing'. B and D are both positive. 'shaken' evokes possible damage more than possible lessening, so I would go with D.

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You're wrong about the first question, right about the second. Significant and considerable are synonyms.

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The following explanations are from The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test:

  1. The word "despite" suggests the level of losses is somehow surprising given the heavy use of pesticides. The only words that describe an appropriate level of losses are "significant" and "considerable" (Choices C and D), which produce sentences alike in meaning. "Reasonable" and "equitable" also produce sentences alike in meaning, but neither word generates the contrast necessary for the sentence to make sense.
  2. The use of the word "though" establishes a contrast between the blank, which requires a description of the judge's standing, and "phony allegations of wrongdoing." Thus the words that best complete the blank must indicate that the judge's reputation was not adversely affected by these allegations. The only words that do so are "undiminished" and "undamaged" (Choices B and D), which produce sentences alike in meaning. "Undecided" and "unresolved" also produce sentences alike in meaning, but neither word makes sense when inserted into the blank.
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In GRE questions, you should look at what expectations the other part of the questions create from you. As Robusto says, you are wrong about the first part. The first part says yet despite heavy use of pesticides, __ losses to diseases and insect pests are sustained each year. The two words, yet and despite together create a sense of negativity, while equitable is usually used in a positive sense. Hence C,D which are context neutral and also make sense.

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