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Sentence Completions

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Joe Louis, a famous boxer, was born in Alabama in 1914, "the grandson of slaves and one quarter Cherokee." He made his way as a boxer in Detroit and became well known not only for his successes in the ring, but also for his generosity and determination. 

Critical Reading: 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.


Remember not to get ahead of yourself with sentence completions questions. It's easy to simply keep reading what's on the page in front of you instead of figuring out what the sentence says before moving on to the answer choices. That's why covering the answers is an essential step, even though for some it can feel childish. Focus on the sentence and make sure you know what it says and what you're looking for before you tackle the answer choices.

Joe Louis was ------ fighter: he inspired fear in many of his opponents.

This is a slightly tricky one to predict because few words tend to go between a linking verb ("was") and the predicate noun ("fighter"); in fact, the first word that might come to mind is "a." It's reasonable, then, to think that along with "a" (or "an") there is another adjective, one that describes what kind of fighter Louis was. Since "he inspired fear in many of his opponents," you can deduce that he was formidable or fearsome. So, your full prediction is "a formidable."

Joe Louis was a formidable fighter: he inspired fear in many of his opponents.


Now look at the answer choices.

A) a serene

B) an impetuous

C) an insipid

D) a malleable

E) a redoubtable

A serene, insipid, or malleable fighter is never going to be perceived as formidable. An impetuous fighter might inspire fear, but nothing in the sentence suggests that Louis was "impulsive and forceful" or "characterized by sudden and violent force." The only option left is E, redoubtable, which means "imposing; eliciting respect or fear." The answer is E.

Words tested in this SC
serene: peaceful, calm, unruffled
impetuous: making arbitrary decisions, especially in an impulsive and forceful manner; characterized by sudden and violent force
insipid: flat; lacking in character or definition; flavorless
malleable: flexible; liable to change; manipulable
redoubtable: eliciting respect or fear; imposing; awe-inspiring


On sat.collegeboard.org, 32% of responses were correct.


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