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Hidden Clues

The content focuses on a sophisticated strategy for tackling triple-blank text completion questions on the GRE, emphasizing the importance of identifying hidden clues within the passage.
  • The technique is intended for students who are already proficient with easier text completions and are preparing for higher difficulty levels.
  • Identifying the 'hidden clue' is crucial for solving complex triple-blank questions, especially when the clue may not be immediately obvious.
  • The example provided illustrates how to approach a passage about the US Constitution, demonstrating the process of elimination and inference to fill in the blanks correctly.
  • It's essential to read the entire text before attempting to fill in any blanks, as the context provided can significantly aid in finding the correct answers.
  • The passage underscores the importance of not relying on outside knowledge or assumptions but instead focusing on the information presented within the text.
Introduction to Advanced Text Completion
Identifying the Hidden Clue
Applying the Hidden Clue to Solve
Conclusion and Strategy Recap

Doesn't the word "despite" make a contrast between the "implacable opposition" and the government's choice? That would make the third blank "deny." 

The problem here is whether the "despite" clause contrasts the clause before it ("Had it not been...") or the clause after ("the central government..."). Grammatically, it could be either. How do we choose?

We need to look twice at the "few men" and "the implacable opposition." These are in logical contrast. The opposition seems to be quite large, and there are a few men--special individuals--who are not part of that opposition. So we are saying that they _________ the Constitution despite being alone against a large opposition.

If we made the "despite" clause contrast with the last clause ("central government..."), then we would have those few men against the constitution, in line with the "opposition." We would lose the contrast between the few men and the opposition. And in doing so, we would create an awkward sentence--why single out those specific men? The opposition was very strong already.

In short, be sure that you're looking at the whole sentence. If the sentence started with "despite," then yes, the contrast would be there. But when we read it from "Had it not been...," then we find that the contrast is between the few men and the opposition, not the opposition and the government. 

What does “if anything” mean? How is it different from “anything but”?

"If anything" is used to suggest tentatively that something may be the case (often the opposite of something that was previously implied).

  1. If anything, we have too much food rather than too little.
  2. The town, if anything, is a sad shadow of its past self.
  3. While our hope was that the situation would improve soon, it is, if anything, getting worse.

"If anything" does not have a negative connotation. And it does not mean "not."

You could think of expanding "if anything" to "if I can say anything with certainty about this..."

In this case (as is the case generally) the author is using the phrase to emphasize the statement he is making about the political conditions.

The meaning here is the same with as without the phrase "if anything." You can safely remove it and analyze the sentence without it to come up with the proper word for the blank.

In contrast, the phrase "anything but" is used to indicate the opposite of something. It means "everything except" or most simply “not at all.” For example, if someone is "anything but friendly," they are not at all friendly.