“skein of thought” puhlease

This is not a test:

“A university training enables a graduate to see things as they are, to go right to the point, to disentangle a _________ of thought.

A) line

B) strand

C) mass

D) plethora

E) skein”

If you’re like me, you’ll read through this question and think, Why, I wouldn’t use ANY of these five words, nor, come to think of it, would I write such a repetitive, redundant, wordy sentence. NEXT QUESTION. Unfortunately, on standardized tests, we all must bow to the line of reasoning that makes sense to the test maker. Even when it is nonsensical. Thus:

“E. One would have to disentangle a skein or coiled and twisted bundle of yarn. Note how the presence of the verb disentangle, which may be used both figuratively and literally, influences the writer’s choice of words. In this case, while line and strand are possible choices, neither word possesses the connotations of twistings and tangled contortions that make skein the most suitable choice.”

Whoever a) wrote this sentence and b) chose to use it in a test obviously have never handled a skein of yarn before in their entire lives. One does not need to disentangle a skein of yarn. That’s the raison d’√™tre of a skein– to prevent yarn from becoming entangled in the first place.

This TEST needs disentangling. Bam!

I am so ready for grad school.


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