Blog

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. 

Cover up the answer choices so that you are not distracted by wrong answers, and read the sentence carefully.  When a sentence has two blanks, focus on the one that you find easier.  Make a prediction for that blank and eliminate any answer choices that do not match your prediction.  Then go back and do the same for the other blank. 

To believe that social reforms can ------- evil altogether is to forget that evil is a protean creature, forever assuming a new ------- when deprived of an old one.

If the first blank seems easier to you than the second, start there.  Social reforms are intended to improve society, to do good.  Things that are meant to do good will “destroy,” “uproot,” or “remove” evil.  Notice the word “altogether” after the word “evil.”  Your prediction for the blank does not need to be identical to “destroy,” but it needs to be a strong word rather than a weak word.  You cannot “lessen” something altogether; that is a contradiction in terms.  Look down at your answer choices, but don’t peek at the words for the second blank yet!

(A) rejuvenate . . allegiance
(B) eradicate . . shape
(C) mitigate . . providence
(D) sustain . . episode
(E) dissolve . . abstraction

(A) Does rejuvenate mean destroy?  No.  It means the opposite.  Eliminate it.  (B) Does eradicate mean destroy? Yes.  Keep it.  (C) Does mitigate mean destroy?  No.  Remember that you need a strong word.  (D) Does sustain mean destroy? No. It means the opposite.  Eliminate it. (E) Does dissolve mean destroy? If you aren’t sure, keep it.  

Now move onto the second blank.  Remember what the original sentence said?   It said that believing that social reforms can destroy evil is to forget that evil is protean.  What does that mean?  Don’t worry if you don’t recognize the word "protean" because the sentence goes on to define the word.  Evil is forever getting a new “something” when deprived of an old one.  Clearly evil is changeable, so think of how appearance can be deceiving.  Your prediction might be that evil takes on a new “form.”  Look at the answer choices that you have left.

Bottom of Form
(B) eradicate . . shape
(E) dissolve . . abstraction

(B) Does shape mean form?  Yes. In this case you would be saying that evil changes appearances but is still evil.  It matches.  (E) Does abstraction mean form?  No.  If something is abstract, it does not have a clear form.  It would be difficult to tell whether an abstract thing had changed because it is not concrete, it has no appearance to change.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Protean: readily assuming different forms, versatile
Rejuvenate: to restore, make young again
Allegiance: loyalty
Eradicate: remove or destroy completely
Mitigate: to lessen
Providence: prudent care
Sustain: to maintain
Episode: a part in a series
Dissolve: destroy, disappear, disband, or change to liquid
Abstraction: an idea apart from concrete reality


On sat.collegeboard.org, 72% of the responses were correct.

For more help with vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!