While kidney stones are known to produce a truly ___________ sensation, often compared to the agony of childbirth, they are almost never fatal.
The sensation produced by kidney stones is compared to the “agony of childbirth,” so you know you’re looking for a word that means “painful.” Painstaking, however, means “done with great care,” and tortuous means “full of twists and turns.” Both excruciating and torturous correctly describe terrible pain.
After many hours of debate, things seemed to have reached ___________, as neither side was willing to give so much as an inch, and no one had anything new to offer.
An impasse, a stalemate.
If neither side of the debate is willing to give an inch to the other, then it would be impossible for a solution to be found. So the debate is more or less frozen. Both a confrontation and an engagement imply some kind of clash, but the sentence implies that any kind of serious clashing is now over (no one had anything new to of er). An impasse and a stalemate reflect the static nature of the conflict.
An antiquated rifle and a revolutionary spirit were the only things in the possession of the young _________ as he forded the perilous canyon stream and wended his way up the opposite bank in hopes of joining forces with the insurgent militia.
Hints to this answer are “revolutionary spirit” and “insurgent militia,” both of which indicate an abandonment of a cause for the opposing one: thus quisling and defector, both of which denote traitors, are best.
The coastline of the region plays home predominantly to a community of cosseted elites; aside from the tolerated presence of a smattering of _________ abodes, the area is practically inundated with opulent estates, which boast a variety of architectural styles from the neo-classical to the Gilded Age.
The key to this question is the phrase “tolerated presence,” which indicates that the “abodes,” or houses, are different from the “opulent estates.” The pivot phrase “aside from” also provides a nice clue. Ramshackle and dilapidated, which both mean “run-down,” are best. Archaic, meaning “old” or “old-fashioned,” is close, but doesn’t possess the same connotations of disrepair or neglect that the two correct answers do.
Exactly which bird species fell victim first to the deadly virus is the subject of ongoing controversy; what is known, however, is that it took but a slight mutation in the pathogen’s genetic constitution to render it lethal to _________ of related species.
A myriad, plethora.
The virus spread to a large number (a myriad, a plethora) of bird species. Watch out for trap answer surplus, which means “an excess” and would not be appropriate to describe bird species.
By framing the new law as a question of urgent safety rather than of privacy, the government obviated the need to pass through the standard channels of legislation, effectively _________ all formal dissent and relegating any would-be naysayer from a position of engaged activist to that of powerless bystander.
By “obviating,” or “getting around,” the traditional channels of legislation, the government is making formal dissent impossible. In other words, it is curtailing or undermining such dissent—words which both mean to “prevent” or “undercut.”
From the battle’s opening volleys to its bloody conclusion, the forces of destruction razed a path through the city, ultimately leaving behind an eerie stillness where there once had been streets and squares _________ with life.
This terrible battle seems to have killed everything (“razed,” “eerie stillness”). In contrast, the streets and squares were once “full of” or “bustling with” (that is, teeming or abounding with) life.
_________ in scandal, the company could regain favor with customers only through mass firings of guilty executives.
Bogged down, mired.
Your clue is that the scandal here is so severe that the company can save itself only through the rather extreme measure of “mass firings.” Bogged down and mired have the sense of being stuck in something (a bog and a mire are both physical things — swampy, quicksand-like patches). Note trap answer wallowing — only a person or animal can wallow (and anyone wallowing wouldn’t want to “regain favor” anyway).
Though the subject of the museum exhibit had been an astute politician and strategist in his day, not even his most vociferous apologists could drum up interest among a modern public for a retrospective of a career so marked by _________ views on social issues.
Apologists are defenders — in this case, people who are trying to make the politician and strategist seem like a good guy. However, the clues “in his day” and the lack of interest among a “modern public” indicate that the politician’s views are outdated. Only passé and archaic match. (The accent mark on passé exists because the word came into English from French.) Note that trap answer erroneous just means “wrong” and doesn’t really fit the clues, nor is it appropriate for discussing matters of culture and opinion.