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Select the two answer choices that, when used to complete the sentence, fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole and produce completed sentences that are alike in meaning.

As my eyesight began to _________, I spent a lot of time writing about it — both poems and “eye journals” — describing what I saw as I looked out through damaged eyes.

A) deteriorate

B) sharpen

C) improve

D) decline

E) recover

F) adjust

A and D are given as correct answers, but how can one write with improper eyesight.

Shouldn't C and E be correct instead?

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    Two words: braille keyboard. – deadrat Jul 26 '15 at 17:15
  • Both A-D and C-E are indeed valid answers here. But it's possible to write even when completely blind. – TRomano Jul 26 '15 at 17:23
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    Writing with improper eyesight: Glasses; putting one's nose close to the keyboard or paper. Write in big letters with a thick pen...lots of options before the braille keyboard. – ab2 Jul 26 '15 at 17:43
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If the author's eyesight was improving, he could only be writing about his past damaged sight. In this case, the tense of "what I saw" is incorrect - it should be "what I had seen". So that scenario should be ruled out.

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The key to answering this question is "through damaged eyes". If it had been "through recovering eyes" or some such,then C and E would have been correct. The negative connotation associated with "through damaged eyes" makes A and D the right choice.

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1

If the author's sight is deteriorating, that doesn't necessarily mean it's so bad as to make him/her incapable of writing already, just that his/her eyesight is worsening.

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  • But why do you know their site is deteriorating? What about the sentence implies it's getting worse rather than improving? – Catija Jul 26 '15 at 17:22
  • Hmm. That's a good question. You're right that it wasn't straightforward. I think it's because their eyes are "damaged", that without any indication that it's getting better, I inferred that it's more likely their sight would be deteriorating. ETA: Posted too soon. It's also because it seems less likely that they'd be recording what they see if they're going to be seeing more in the future, unless they're doing it just as an observation exercise. – carlac Jul 26 '15 at 17:32
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One can write with "damaged" eyesight, or even no eyesight, as others have mentioned. But I would agree that whether he starts with poor or healthy eyesight is unclear: he could be looking through damaged eyes getting better, or damaged eyes getting worse.

The answer here is simply that "Decline" and "Deteriorate" both suggest a similar starting point of normalcy. "Improve" suggests a starting point of poor eyesight, but "Recover" suggests a starting point of normalcy, then a change for the worse, thus "recovery" back to normal. That is, for me, the real reason for the GRE's given answer: they want two words that provided a similar sentence, and your recommended answer doesn't quite do it as well as theirs.

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