Theology was once regarded as the Queen of the Sciences, because every subject eventually had to meet its demands, but two hundred years ago that honor and title fell to mathematics, which enjoys __________ over not only physical science but social science as well.
Hegemony, dominance. Just as once “every subject eventually had to meet (theology’s) demands,” now “not only physical science but social science” must meet mathematics’ demands. This suggests that mathematics enjoys something like “rule” over these fields; the phrase “Queen of the Sciences” suggests the same, and perhaps a sort of “autocratic rule.” Hegemony usually describes the dominance of one state over others, but can also mean the dominance of one social group, political party, etc. Dominance will also work. If we anticipated precisely the word “autocratic,” “autonomy” might be attractive, but it doesn’t actually work: “autocratic” describes government by a single person with unlimited powers, while “autonomy” means “self-governance.”
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.
Germane, pertinent. “Though” implies that the matters about which a professor enjoys liberty are opposite those “irrelevant to his subject.” So we 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.”
The Fed knows that a certain level of financial stability can be attained by lowering interest rates, yet if it overuses this power, it risks losing its most reliable means of _________ a crisis.
Assuaging, palliating. The first half of the sentence explains that lowering interest rates can create financial stability, so this would allow the Fed to make a crisis better. Exacerbating and compounding are the opposite of what we want, and annihilating goes too far. Only palliating and assuaging correctly fit our meaning here.
Oftentimes, when administrators force teachers to cleave too closely to a federal curriculum, those teachers feel __________ , because the mandatory curriculum curbs their sense of being creative and dynamic educators.
Thwarted, undermined. The end of this sentence makes it clear that the teachers in question are not happy about having to stick to a prescribed curriculum. Crushed, confounded, walloped, and tormented are all negative, but all of them miss the meaning of the sentence (and no two of them make a good pair). Crushed means emotionally devastated and tends to apply to things that happen all at once—a breakup, not getting a promotion, etc.
Einstein’s idea that electromagnetic radiation was divided into a finite number of “energy quanta” was purely experiential until it was theoretically ___________ by the work of physicists such as Louis de Broglie and Werner Heisenberg.
Bolstered, buttressed. It is critical to work out here whether the physicists mentioned at the end of the sentence were for or against Einstein’s theory. We know that the idea went from “purely experiential” to “theoretically” something. There’s a contrast here, and the contrast is not between right and wrong. It is between something that has been shown by experiment and something that has been understood theoretically. This means the later scientists are providing support for Einstein. Undermined and sabotaged are negative, while condoned and pardoned don’t make much sense. Only bolstered and buttressed correctly express the idea of support.
In a way, the environmental movement can still be said to be __________ movement, for while it has been around for decades, only recently has it become a serious organization associated with political parties and platforms.
An incipient, a nascent. While the environmental movement is said to have been around awhile, the second half of the sentence says that it “only recently” become “a serious organization.” This means that the answer choices disorganized and nebulous don’t quite work. The other pair, inconsequential and immaterial, is needlessly negative. Incipient and nascent capture the idea that, while the movement has been around for a while, it is only just now becoming a serious and relevant organization.
Multi-level marketing schemes prey on people ____________ promises of quick riches, and sales rewards such as fancy cars and vacations.
Beguiled by, enamored with. For the schemes to “prey” on people, those people would need to want what is being advertised. Beguiled by and enamored with mean lured by or infatuated with. Obsessed by and possessed by go too far. Aggrieved by and vexed by are negative (if you were vexed by quick riches and fancy trips, you wouldn’t be easy prey, and also you’d be really weird).
The Thin Blue Line, a documentary by Errol Morris, is one of a very few movies that has had a tangible effect on the real world; the film managed to _________ its subject, who had been on death row for a crime that Morris proves, fairly definitively, that the man did not commit.
Exculpate, vindicate. This sentence tells us that Morris’ film proves that its subject did not commit the crime in question. This implies that the film proved his innocence. Both exculpate and vindicate mean to “clear someone of blame or suspicion.” Liberate and manumit are close, but both have the idea of freedom without freeing from blame (and manumit is technically only used for when someone is freed from slavery). Excuse means “to lessen the blame” or “forgive someone for a fault,” but not to prove they were not at fault in the first place.
To avoid a lengthy prison term, the convicted financier signed a binding document delineating the millions in fines and restitution that she must pay, and another legal memorandum in which she ________ her former role and financial interest in the hedge fund she had founded.
Abjured, forwent. Since the hedge fund founder is doing something to avoid a long prison term, and because of the clue “former role,” we know that she gave up that role. Abjured and forwent both work here. Be precise—reneged means to break a promise. A leader can be deposed, but you don’t depose a role. The hedge fund founder may be being censured (probably worse), but it doesn’t make sense for her to censure (disapprove of, reprimand) her role.
The Presidential candidate, known not only for the deeply reasoned content of his prepared speeches but also for the fiery brilliance of his delivery, badly miscalculated his ability to perform equally successfully when delivering __________ answers to unexpected queries form the media.
Extemporaneous, impromptu. “Badly miscalculated” indicates that there are two opposing parts of the sentence: the candidate’s “prepared speeches” are good, but some other type of answers are bad. We need two words that mean improvised or off-the-cuff. Note that lubricious and disingenuous form a pair relating to dishonesty that is unrelated to the clues and might be a trap (if you insert your own, negative ideas about politicians). Premeditated is the opposite of what we want.