I took a look at a graduate reading comprehension, cos I'm worried I'm poor at it. The test, to me, makes no sense. E.g.

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Surely, I'm thinking, an organisation can be "proactive", yet not "put forward" the idea which is used.

Can anyone show me that this isn't me lacking business speak, but my poor reading comprehension?


Yes, you can proactively look for a solution but use an idea put forward by someone else.

I actually agree with your answer to this question. The paragraphs say that representatives from the cement industry put forth the solution. It doesn't say that the Ministry of Energy proactively sought ways to handle the excess coal ash, but it also doesn't say that they didn't look for a solution. So you really can't tell.

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    thanks, friend, i was worried i was losinng my mind :) ! – user3293056 Apr 18 '16 at 17:25

Short answer: Yes, one can be subtly proactive if need be, but the test giver probably means: publicly zealous, aggressive, promotional, or just plain loud.

Long answer: The comprehension test uses a poorly written text, which implies either:

1) The test author can't tell good prose from bad.

2) The test author is testing the student's ability to slog through poorly written text.

Using the widely deprecated term proactive tends to imply '1)'. But as a student, you're stuck with this test, so perhaps the best advice would be to pass your test, don't use the word proactive if at all possible, and avoid insulting any potential benefactors who do use it:

Network Executive Lady: We at the network want a dog with attitude. He's edgy, he's "in your face." You've heard the expression, "let's get busy"? Well, this is a dog who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.

Krusty: So he's proactive, huh?

Network Executive Lady: Oh, God, yes. We're talking about a totally outrageous paradigm.

George Meyer: Excuse me, but "proactive" and "paradigm"? Aren't these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? Not that I'm accusing you of anything like that. [pause] I'm fired, aren't I?

Roger Myers Jr.: Oh, yes.

-Simpson's season 8, episode 14.

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