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Sentence Completions

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Walter John de la Mare was an English poet and novelist, best remembered for his poem "The Listeners." He is particularly known for his works for children and his focus on the innocence of youth.  You can read more about de la Mare and his poetry here. His unique style and technical ability make him a great "Excellent Example" for your SAT essay.

7/24 Sentence Completion

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

Whenever you have a two-blank sentence completion, try to predict the easier blank first. Then eliminate as many answer choices as you can with just that prediction. If there is more than one answer choice left, make a prediction for the other blank and eliminate any of the remaining answers that don't match your prediction.

There has been little _________ criticism written about de la Mare; indeed, that which has been written is at the two extremes, etiher appallingly _________ or bitterly atagonistic. 

In this case, the second blank is much easier to predict than the first blank. The sentence tells you that the criticism written about "de la Mare" is eitther "appallingly _________ or bitterly atagonistic." You can tell that the two words must contrast. In other words, the criticism is either "appallingly flattering or bitterly atagonistic." Now that you have a prediction for the second blank, take a look at the answer choices. Eliminate any that don't match your prediction.

(A) hostile . .  ambiguous
(B) recent . . illogical
(C) fervent . . complimentary
(D) objective . . sycophantic
(E) temperate . . censorious

(A) doesn't match your prediction well. Ambiguous is a neutral word that doesn't really contrast with the word "antagonistic". (B) is a negative word that also doesn't match your prediction. (C) is a positive word that does contrast well with "antagonistic" so it does fit your prediction. (D) also fits your prediction well. (E) is a fairly unusual word. The root word is "censor," which means "to examine something - usually a book or movie - and delete offensive parts." So something that is "censorious" is something that "censors" things. That doesn't match your prediction. Only (C) and (D) match your prediction.

Since you have two answers left, you need to make a prediction for the remaining blank. The first part of the sentence describes the criticism that has been written about "de la Mare." You are told in the second part of the sentence that the criticism is either very positive or very negative. Based on that information, you can predict that "there has been little fair or balanced criticism . . .." Now look at (C) and (D) and eliminate the answer that doesn't match your prediction. (C) does not mean "fair" or "balanced," so you can eliminate it. (D), on the other hand, matches your prediction well. If you read the sentence now, it makes sense. "There has been little objective criticism written about de la Mare . . . " because what is written about him is "either appallingly sycophantic or bitterly antagonistic."

The correct Answer Choice is (D).

Words Tested in this SC:
antagonistic: contending or acting against
hostile: showing the disposition of an enemy
ambigous: open to multiple interpretations
recent: having happened a short while ago
illogical: lacking sense or sound reason
fervent: exhibiting particular zeal or enthusiasm
complimentary: expressing praise or congratulations
objective: not influenced by emotion or prejudice
sycophantic: given to obsequious flattery
temperate: moderate, not obsessive
censorious: apt to blame or condemn

On sat.collegeboard.org 49% of the responses were correct.

Need to build your vocab? Visit www.myknowsys.com to check out the Knowsys Vocabulary Builder program.