What is wrong with "celebrated" as the first choice and "experiment with" or "distill" as the second? It seems certainly possible that a playwright's approach is celebrated because he/she has experimented with new techniques or that she "extracted the most important aspects" (distill) out of her theatrical techniques.

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    Unless there is more context around the question, it's a terrible test. (Without further clarification, pedestrian / jettison is another possible combination.) Jul 3, 2018 at 1:59
  • @JasonBassford that would be kind of odd.. a pedestrian approach would be boring, run of the mill, unremarkable. That is not supported in any way by works that jettison the theatrical devices normally used.
    – De Novo
    Jul 3, 2018 at 2:05
  • @DanHall That's exactly my point. A play without any theatrical devices (drama) is boring. What play can you think of that has no drama but is still fun or exciting? Jul 3, 2018 at 2:08
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    @JasonBassford I read jettison the theatrical devices normally used to create drama, as just that, the normal devices aren't used. Drama is still there. Regardless, even if it had no drama, if it was because it did something entirely unique, it wouldn't be pedestrian. It would be both boring and remarkable, and pedestrian wouldn't fit. You could try to make a case for it, but it definitely wouldn't be the best answer.
    – De Novo
    Jul 3, 2018 at 2:13
  • @DanHall Not necessarily. The sentence still makes sense with those two words in a certain context (which I assume more than you do—for me, your take is less likely). But the real issue is that the test as given (or the information provided in the question) results in several possible combinations with meaningful answers. As it's stated, there can be no "correct" response. Jul 3, 2018 at 2:17

1 Answer 1


Like many of these multiple choice questions, the correct answer is not necessarily the only possible choice, it's the best choice.

The construction something is blank i in that blank ii means that blank ii has to support blank i. The best answer will involve full and complete justification of blank i by blank ii.

I agree, a playwright might be celebrated for experimenting with, distilling, or jettisoning devices, but you would need more supporting evidence for celebrated. Celebrated refers to what critics or audiences think of, and how they react to the playwright's work.

startling needs no more evidence beyond the works jettison theatrical devices normally used. That is, in and of itself, startling.

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    The problem with this question (as given) is that there is no "best" choice. You might be able to present an argument for some word pairs that are clearly not the best, but you can't present an argument for which single word pair is the best. It presents something that is open to a completely subjective interpretation. There aren't even any criteria for what is the most likely answer, something I've seen with other multiple choice questions. Jul 3, 2018 at 2:28
  • @JasonBassford down vote if you like, this (there is no best answer), is exactly the approach that will lose you points on the GRE
    – De Novo
    Jul 3, 2018 at 4:19
  • This site isn't about how to answer GRE questions; it's about the use of English. Jul 3, 2018 at 4:30
  • @JasonBassford The OPs question is a GRE question. If you think it's off topic, vote to close.
    – De Novo
    Jul 3, 2018 at 5:02
  • I guess without a at least vague understanding of theater, it would be hard to choose the "best" choice. Since I have no idea what could or could not be celebrated or startling in a theatrical performance, and what the critics/audience might think nowadays, it's ambiguous which is the "best" to me. Jul 3, 2018 at 15:24

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