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Sentence Completions

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. 

For sentence completion questions, always cover the answers before reading the sentence.  Most of the answers are wrong, designed to throw you off track.  Read the sentence carefully and predict an answer to fill the blank that you find easier.  Eliminate any answer choices that do not match your prediction for that blank, then go back and use the same method with the other blank. 

The world, accustomed to ------- whenever governments change hands, expected rioting and bloodshed; but the transition of power was remarkably ------- .

Start with the second blank if it seems easier to you.  Rioting and bloodshed were expected, but then you have a transition word “but” indicating that a contrast is coming.  What is the opposite of rioting and bloodshed? Predict a word such as “peaceful,” and look down at the second part of each answer choice.

(A) turmoil . . chaotic
(B) harmony . . orderly
(C) ceremony . . solemn
(D) violence . . uneventful
(E) splendor . . unpopular

(A)  Chaotic is the opposite of peaceful.  Eliminate this choice.  (B) Orderly things are often peaceful, so keep this choice.  (C) Does solemn mean peaceful?  If you aren’t sure, keep this choice.  (D) Uneventful and peaceful can be synonyms, so keep this choice.  (E) Unpopular does not mean peaceful.  Eliminate this choice.

Now go back to that first blank.  The world is accustomed to something that causes it to expect rioting and bloodshed.  Those are both really negative things.  If a word connecting both of those things does not immediately come to mind, you can actually answer this problem just by predicting "something negative".  Look down at your remaining answer choices.

(B) harmony . . orderly
(C) ceremony . . solemn
(D) violence . . uneventful

(B) Harmony is a positive word, so you can eliminate this choice.  (C) Ceremonies are for any important event, from a birthday party to a funeral, so this word is neutral.  Eliminate this choice.  (D)  Violence is a negative word and it accurately describes rioting and bloodshed. 

The correct answer is (D).

Words used in this SC:
Turmoil: chaos, disorder
Chaotic: confused and disordered
Harmony: agreement
Orderly: neat or systematic
Ceremony: a ritual or gathering
Solemn: serious, somber
Violence: extreme force causing pain
Uneventful: monotonous, without problems or noteworthy events
Splendor: magnificence, grandeur
Unpopular: not favored


On sat.collegeboard.org, 75% of the responses were correct.

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