The tremendous wealth of ancient life on display as part of the Ancient Life of New York exhibit—billion-yearold blue-green bacteria from the Adirondacks, fossilized tree stumps and spiders from Schoharie County, trilobites from Oneida County, and armored fish from throughout the state—represents only a tiny fraction of the New York State Museum’s __________ collection of over one million specimens.
Since the tremendous wealth… on display represents only a tiny fraction of the collection, and since the collection has over one million specimens, it is a very large collection indeed. You might anticipate an answer like “huge.” Exhaustive, which means “including everything,” is a bit stronger even than anticipated, but it will work. The primary meaning of compendious is something like “synoptic, briefly stating all the essentials,” and that’s not what you want, but compendious can also mean simply “complete.” The primary meaning is the one you’re most likely to encounter on the GRE, but in this question, you should take the other meaning, “complete.” (The meaning you rely on for this question, incidentally, is most common even in formal writing, though it’s not first in the dictionary.) Imperfect though both these answers are, nothing else is even close.
Unbridled passion, whether rage or ardor, gives way to the sort of rash declarations that too often end in __________ and sorrow.
You would like an answer very much close to “sorrow,” perhaps something like “regret.” Rue and remorse are the nearest synonyms.
Academic freedom does not protect a professor’s classroom remarks on matters irrelevant to his subject, though it guarantees the professor considerable liberty of speech about matters __________ to his or her academic work.
Though implies that the matters about which a professor enjoys liberty are opposite those “irrelevant to his subject.” So you might anticipate an answer like “relevant.” Germane and pertinent are the best synonyms. Mimetic and congruent are slightly related to the idea at hand — the former means “copying” (like a mime, for instance) and the latter means something like “standing in a similar relation.”
Isherwood’s sympathy for communism during the interwar period was not only a reaction against fascism, but also a mark of his fellow feeling for the laboring classes and his __________ to engage as an equal with working people.
The word and suggests that the phrases before and after the conjunction will agree. Isherwood has “fellow feeling for the laboring classes,” that is he is sympathetic with working people, and so wants to “engage as an equal” with them. You should anticipate a word like desire. Hankering and proclivity are the nearest synonyms. Disinclination and unwillingness are the opposite of what you want (implacability is also negative). Joviality might seem attractive, but is more extreme than your clue of “fellow feeling.”
The saying “Time stops for no man” also applies to rock and roll; once the rebellious sound of the young, it _________ became part of the culture of the old, just as had every preceding style of music.
The clues here are pretty blatant — Time stops for no man and just as had every preceding style of music. In other words, everything always goes pretty much the same way.
The government interpreted the enemy’s decision to move their army to the borderline as _________ act of aggression.
An explicit, an overt.
This sentence doesn’t give you much to go on for meaning, but odds are good that if your enemy moves to the border, you see it as a pretty “direct act of aggression.” Explicit and overt both fit this meaning. Bellicose and belligerent are a pair, but they would be redundant (“A belligerent act of aggression”).
While environmental concerns continue to _________, most climate scientists say the interest comes too late, as we’ve already passed the proverbial tipping point.
The word while signals a change in direction, and the second half of the sentence is negative (something is coming “too late”), so you need something in the blank that is positive. In the case of environmental concern, that would be “more of it.” Both burgeon and mushroom fit that meaning. Disseminate is close, but it has no pair (promulgate means “to make something widely known,” not “to become widely known”), and the concern isn’t spreading out so much as growing.
The magazine’s editor was known to be a very busy woman, so it was important when speaking with her to get right to the __________ of the issue.
In this sentence, the key words are “very busy woman,” implying the editor doesn’t have a lot of free time. That means it would be necessary to get right to the most important part of the issue. Conclusion and culmination are a pair, but they mean “the end,” which isn’t quite right. Pith and gist are a much better match for the blank.
Proust proved that the __________ can be the domain of the novel every bit as much as the fantastical.
The blank here needs to contrast with “the fantastical.” Mundane and quotidian both fit. Bombastic and belletristic both may correctly describe the writing style of Proust, but they don’t match the meaning of the sentence.
It’s worth wondering if the increase in diagnoses of psychological disorders has caused us to see certain behaviors that were once considered normal as ___________.
The word once here signals a change in the direction of meaning. As the sentence ends with the idea that the behaviors in question were once “considered fairly normal,” you need something for the blank that means “uncommon.” Mythical and fabulous may seem to fit, but they’re too extreme. Anomalous and aberrant work much better.