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Sentence Completions

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Technology makes an interesting current event for your SAT example, but have you thought about how technology can influence the way that history is understood? A new iPad app allows users to scrutinize slices of Einstein's brain. Read this article and think about the numerous themes that could relate this current event to an SAT essay prompt.

9/25 Sentence Completions

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

When you must answer a sentence completion question, your first step should be to cover the answer choices. Do not be distracted or influenced in the way you think about the sentence by wrong answer choices. Instead, read the entire sentence carefully, looking for clues that will help you predict the kind of word that belongs in the blank. If the sentence has two blanks, choose the easier one, make a prediction, and use that prediction to eliminate any answer choices that do not match your prediction. Then go back and use the same method with the other blank.

Barbara McClintock’s systematic examination of corn demonstrated the transposition of genes, a finding that overturned entrenched beliefs and proved that ------- study may produce brilliant insights and ------- change.

This sentence is full of clues about the words that should fill the blanks. Look at the first blank, and ask yourself what kind of study Barbara used to find out about corn and genes. The sentence has already described Barbara’s study as a “systematic examination.” Rather than spending time thinking of a synonym for “systematic,” use the word you are given as a prediction for the first blank. Then look down at your answer choices, and eliminate any answers that do not match the word “systematic.”

(A) haphazard . . radical
(B) inherent . . controversial
(C) improvised . . startling
(D) methodical . . revolutionary
(E) derivative . . gradual

(A) Does haphazard mean systematic? No. It means the opposite. Eliminate it. (B) Does inherent mean systematic. No. Eliminate it. (C) Does improvised mean systematic? No. It means the opposite. Eliminate it. (D) Does methodical mean systematic. Yes. This choice matches your prediction. (E) Does derivative mean systematic? No. Eliminate it.

Note that it is possible to eliminate all but the correct answer choice just by looking at one blank. However, if you did not know the meaning of any of the above words, you would still have multiple answer choices remaining. In that case, continue to eliminate choices by looking at the other blank.

What kind of change did Barbara’s finding bring? A finding that “overturned entrenched beliefs” must produce some “surprising” and “completely new” changes. Look now at any answer choices that you have remaining.

(D) methodical . .revolutionary

The word “revolutionary” matches your prediction.

The correct answer is (D).

Words used in this SC:

Haphazard: random, chaotic
Radical: favoring fundamental change
Inherent: due to a permanent or natural attribute
Controversial: causing debate
Improvised: unrehearsed
Methodical: organized, systematic
Revolutionary: radically new, sudden complete change
Derivative: imitative


On sat.collegeboard.org, 73% of the responses were correct.


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