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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.

Sentence completion questions with more than one blank may look more intimidating than questions with only one blank, but they can be just as straightforward.  In most cases, you will focus on the blank that seems easy, eliminate any answers that do not match your prediction, and then move on to the other blank.

The actor’s ------- decline in popularity was as striking and unexpected as his ------- rise to prominence had been.

Examine the first blank.  You need a word to describe a decline in popularity that means “striking and unexpected.” Before you put too much time into in the first blank, take a look at the second blank.  Notice that it is connected to the first blank by the phrase “was as striking and unexpected as.” The same words that applied for the first blank also apply to the second blank, so the two words you are looking for must be synonyms.  If the words mean the same thing, then they are equally easy and you can make the same prediction for both, which means you will only have to look at the answer choices one time.  Rather than building a new prediction for each of these two blanks, predict your answer using the exact words from the sentence: “striking and unexpected.”  Eliminate any answer choices that do not include synonyms or do not mean “striking and unexpected.”

(A) sudden . . meteoric
(B) gradual . . equivocal
(C) precipitous . . obscure
(D) dazzling . . secret
(E) inevitable . . unpredictable 

(A) matches your prediction, but even if you realize this immediately, you should still read all the answer choices.  (B) uses the word “gradual,” which is the opposite of your prediction. Anything that happens gradually would be easy to observe and expect. Without evaluating the second word, you can eliminate (B).  Looking at (C), you may not know what the word “precipitous” means, but the word “obscure” is the opposite of “striking.” Eliminate (C).  (D) looks good at first because “dazzling” means “striking,” but “dazzling” is not synonymous with “secret.” Eliminate (D). (E) can be eliminated because something “inevitable” would be easy to predict, not “unpredictable.”  The words in (E) are antonyms rather than synonyms.

The correct answer choice is (A).

Words tested in this SC:
Meteoric: like a meteor in speed and brilliance
Equivocal: ambiguous, open to interpretation
Precipitous: steep or headlong, like the fall from a steep cliff
Obscure: dark, hidden                                                                           
Dazzling: brilliant, splendid
Inevitable: impossible to prevent or avoid


At sat.collegeboard.org, 76% of responses were correct. 


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