Some controversial questions from the GRE tests

Hello everybody!

I found some questions to be very controversial.
If anybody has ideas about it, it will be great.
It will be also very kind of educators, if they express their opinions about it.
Thank you.

  1. It is his dubious distinction to have proved what nobody would think of denying that Romero at the age of sixty four writes with all the characteristics of _________.

a. maturity
b. fiction
c. inventiveness
d. art
e. brilliance
(I wonder, how we can come up with the answer. Is the “age of sixty four” a clue?)


a. renegade : ambition
b. extrovert : reserve
c. reprobate : humility
d. zealot : loyalty
e. strategist : decisiveness
(Actually, I do not see much difference between B and C.)

  1. The newborn human infant is not a passive figure, nor an active one, but what might be called an actively _________ one, eagerly attentive as it is to sights and sounds.

a. adaptive
b. selective
c. inquisitive
d. receptive
e. intuitive
(Here I was sure that C and D is ok, but c is better. Conversely, D appeared to be better. I also do not see much difference)


a. condense
b. undermine
c. disprove
d. cancel
e. misinterpret
(I do not know the right answer, but when I confidently chose “undermine” it was wrong)


a. unlikely
b. uncomfortable
c. unrepentant
d. unseemly
e. unattractive
(Here I also do not know the right answer, but when I confidently chose “unseemly” it was also wrong)

  1. Politeness is not a _________ attribute of human behavior, but rather a central virtue, one whose very existence is increasingly being _______ by the faddish requirement to “speak one’s mind.”

a. commonplace…threatened
b. pervasive…undercut
c. worthless…forestalled
d. precious…repudiated
e. trivial…affected
(It was the most difficult, no ideas why one is better then the other, especially why E is better then A.)

Thank you for your consideration!
Best regards,

Hi Dasha

I’ve written my comments in the quote. Maybe someone else will have different or additional ideas.

Where did you get these questions?


Dear, Amy!

Thank you for your help!
My comments are red.

Thank very much for your attention and help.
Best regards,

You’re welcome, Dasha. I hope you also had a look at what mathisanathema wrote. There’s lots of good input there.


Thank you Army!
Thank you Mathisanathema!

I wonder how people can get 720 for Verbal. I have already passed GRE 2 times in winter. I am still hope to get higher score than i currently have. I will take exam the day after tomorrow… once again… People around me tell I am completely crazy to spend 160 dollars per exam and much for books, and that i gradually foget Russian…:)… But anyway I want to do well, and if I do not pass this time I will try to take the test once more.

P.S. If i saw that i get 720 for verbal i would faint :)… for sure… or would think it’s a bad joke

Hi Dasha

Well, then, good luck :!: We’ll keep our fingers (and all of our toes) crossed for you on August 30. :smiley:

Or is it better to wish you bad luck so that you’ll have good luck? (I think Tamara here in the forum told me that Russians do that sort of thing. Was she telling me the truth or just pulling my leg? ;))

By the way, what happened on your first two attempts? Was you score better on the second try? What’s your goal?


I may have done well on the verbal, but as an English major I’m expected to. What’s more, I absolutely capsized on the math section and am toying with the idea of rewriting. Best of luck with the verbal - feel free to post again if you come across any more devilish questions.

Thanks Amy for wishes.

We usually say to a person, “No down, no feather!” (instead of good luck)
and he or she must answer, “To devil!” (or “for devil!” i am not sure what is closer)

But all russian dictionaries translate “No down, no feather” like “good luck!”

On my second try i got exactly the same score on verbal (450), and exactly the same score on quantitive(670), and exactly the same score on writing. Moreover, I got the same argument topic on writing section. Total 1120, and 4 for essays. Bad, but stimulating…:slight_smile:
After that I much admire GRE test and consider it the pre-eminent exam (i have ever taken.) Amazing accuracy.

Thank you, Mathisanathema, for offering help.

Yesterday I saw another strange question:

Use of the company limousine is just one of the _______ of being executive vice-president.

a. tenets
b. prerequisites
c. prerogatives
d. perquisites
e. precepts

I have chosen C first, because I did not know that the second meaning of “perquisites” is “privilege”. The right answer is D. But I cannot understand the difference between C and D. If I knew the second meaning while taking test, I would be confused.

Would you please comment on it?


“Prerogatives” is not a bad guess, but it implies a distinct right or entitlement where “perquisite” implies a particular privilege or benefit, typically enjoyed by someone occupying a particular profession or holding a special status. In this case, while it may well be the VP’s prerogative to take the limousine, it is also one of the perquisites that his position entails. It might clarify the issue somewhat to know that the work “perquisite” is often abridged to “perk.”

Hi Amy!
Hi Mathisanathema!
Hi everybody!

I just want to share my feelings after taking GRE (30th of August). I got V520 and Q800. That’s better then previous score. I known people here usually get more than or around 1400, and usually more than V600, but I am not that person, and, moreover, I do not known anybody beyond this forum who scored more than 1190 or even took this test. So, I am not that disappointed.

On verbal I answered only 21 questions and ran out of time. I have two weak points: reading comprehension and time on verbal part (but, probably, they are mutually connected).
So, within first 23 questions i got all reading comprehension questions, and scored for verbal less than i could. Additionaly, all texts were significantly longer than they should be, and the longest one was about literature (that’s bad because humanities are my weak points.). I would prefer text on biology, or physics, or georgaphy, or geology, or on other natural or physico-mathematical science.
To put it a pessimistic way, I could do much better if I had at least 2 texts first, and the last text for 29th and 30th questions, since for me other types of questions were easy.
But, to put it an optimistic way, thanks to my good knowledge of vocabulary and correct answers for antonyms, analogies, and sentence completion questions, I got 520 even though completed only 21 questions and got difficult and long texts; moreover, i wanted to get minimum 500 for verbal.

For maths I wanted not less than 800 and got it.

Once again, thanks Amy and mathisanathema for great help. I am going to prepare for GRE Subject Chemistry, but, who knows, maybe I will decide to take GRE General once again :wink: and return to this forum.

Best regards,
good luck,

Hi Dasha

Congratulations! Your score certainly deserves a round of applause! My information is that the average scores for the GRE are 470 for Verbal and 570 for Quantitative. So, you did very well!

It’s a shame that simply the order of the questions might have had a negative impact on your verbal score. But what you mentioned is often true: many people are more proficient in certain types of texts, and less in others.

Still, you did quite well!

Thanks for the feedback and keep in touch.