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GRE Verbal Practice, Sentence Equivalence

Question 1

Owing to her innate _________ and infectious optimism, Cassie succeeded not just in transcending her own physical disability but also in helping many others to overcome similar life challenges.

A.  buoyancy
B.  altruism
C.  empathy
D.  resiliency
E.  stubbornness
F.  adaptability

Explanatory Answer

The words buoyancy and resiliency both can be used to describe a person who easily "bounces back" emotionally from setbacks and disappointments, and it makes sense that this trait would have helped Cassie transcend (overcome psychologically) her disability.

The words altruism (selfless concern for others) and empathy (the ability to identify with and understand someone else's feelings or difficulties) might aptly describe Cassie, but both are incorrect for essentially the same reasons. First, while it may be idiomatic to describe somebody as innately altruistic or innately empathetic, the phrases innate altruism and innate empathy are awkward at best. Second, the sentence's grammatical structure suggests that the missing word should relate more to the first success (transcending one's own disability) than to the second one (helping others). As for the remaining two choices, the sentence does not strongly suggest that Cassie's successes were the result of stubbornness (the quality of being firmly unyielding) or adaptability (the ability to respond flexibly to circumstances), and neither word can be paired with another word that gives the sentence the same meaning.

The correct answer choices are A and D. You would gain credit for a correct response only by selecting both of these choices.