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GRE Verbal Practice, Sentence Equivalence

Question 3

Through aggressive online advertising a nearby franchise store has been drawing customers away from the local diner, whose proprietor has done virtually nothing to _________ his increasingly dire situation.

A.  mitigate
B.  counteract
C.  ameliorate
D.  alleviate
E.  rectify
F.  reconcile

Explanatory Answer

What would make sense for the blank is a word that helps conveys the idea that the diner's proprietor has done nothing to improve, or turn around, his bad situation. The words ameliorate (to improve) and rectify (to straighten out or make right) both serve to convey this idea.

It would be improper to use either mitigate or alleviate to describe a "situation." (Properly used, these two words refer to a lessening of damage, pain or loss — as in mitigate a loss or alleviate pain.) Using the word counteract would be improper for the essentially the same reason: the proprietor should seek to counteract his competitor's tactics, not his own "situation." Finally, to reconcile is to settle differences — an idea that makes no sense in context.

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