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Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 


First, read the sentence, look for clues, and select the easier blank. Make a prediction for that blank and eliminate any answer choices that do not fit your prediction. Then look at the second blank, make a prediction, and compare it to the remaining answer choices.

Eduardo Galeano's novel consists of discrete vignettes, so the reader must supply the invisible ------ binding such apparently ------ parts.

This sentence would be likely to turn up near the end of a sentence completion section because the uncommon words in the sentence make it more difficult. What is a vignette and how is it discrete? If you have no idea what these words mean, then this is almost like an extreme sport for context clues; since some words are already missing from the sentence, it is even harder than normal to figure out words that you don't know. Knowing your vocabulary is essential! If you encounter a sentence like this on the SAT, you have two options: try to figure out what the words mean, or try to restructure the sentence so you don't need them. You can rearrange this sentence fairly easily, as it happens. Remember that "so" is a coordinating conjunction (one of the FANBOYS), so it can separate two independent clauses. Each independent clause is able to stand on its own as a sentence. Let's try chopping this one up:

Eduardo Galeano's novel consists of discrete vignettes. The reader must supply the invisible ------ binding such apparently ------ parts. 


Not bad! Now, looking only at the second sentence, make your predictions. If the bindings are invisible, it is easy to conclude that the parts of the novel must appear separate. Compare that prediction to the answer choices:

A) emotions... impersonal

B) interpretations... somber

C) descriptions... related

D) connections... independent

E) categories... cohesive

Eliminate C and E immediately--cohesive and related are the opposite of your prediction, separate. B can go as well, since nothing in the sentence suggests that it is somber or has invisible interpretations. That does not make any sense.

This is an excellent example of how looking at the answer choices can alter your view of the question. Several of these choices seem to make sense, even though they don't match your predictions.

The reader must apply the invisible emotions binding such apparently impersonal parts.

True, if the parts had invisible emotions it would appear very impersonal, and finding the emotional appeal of the piece would fall to the reader. That makes sense--but there is nothing in the sentence to suggest that this is the case. Eliminate A and you are left only with D:

The reader must apply the invisible connections binding such apparently independent parts. 

The answer is D.


On the test you would move on to the next question at this point, but since this is practice, look instead at the original sentence.

Eduardo Galeano's novel consists of discrete vignettes, so the reader must supply the invisible connections binding such apparently independent parts.

It is now much easier to infer meaning for discrete and vignettes because the entire sentence is present. Discrete means separate and distinct. It is used in math to mean disconnected; for example, a discrete graph has separate dots instead of a line. Bar graphs are discrete because each category is separate. In Galeano's novel, each vignette is discrete, separate, from the others. A vignette is any small, pleasing picture or view or a small, graceful literary sketch. It is shorter than an anecdote and more imbued with emotion. If you had known these words, would the question have been easier? Probably. Was it impossible without them? Not at all. Don't let words you don't know distract you from the ones you do.

Words tested in this SC
emotions: a person's feelings
impersonal: lacking warmth or emotion; cold
interpretations: an exposition, explanation, or translation intended to provide additional meaning
somber: dark, dreary, or grim
descriptions: a verbal sketch or representation of something
related: connected or relevant to something
connections: the point at which or way in which two or more things are joined
independent: not contingent or reliant on something else; free
categories: a group to which items are assigned
cohesive: tending to stick together, having unity


On sat.collegeboard.org, 60% of responses to this question were correct.


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