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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. 

Always cover your answer choices before reading the sentence.  Then read the entire sentence carefully.  Use the context clues in the sentence to predict what belongs in the blank.  Compare your prediction to each answer choice, asking yourself whether the choice matches your prediction.  If the answer is no, eliminate that choice.  Be sure to look at all the answer choices before selecting your answer.

Cormac McCarthy has a reputation for being one of the most ------- figures in literature; for many years, few people knew what the writer looked like or where he lived.

The definition of the word that belongs in the blank is in this sentence right after the semi-colon.  What word would you use to describe someone who few recognize or know much about?  There are many words that might come to mind: unsociable, solitary, withdrawn.  Use the word that comes to mind as your prediction and look down at your answer choices.

(A) overbearing
(B) sedate
(C) sociable
(D) celebrated
(E) reclusive

(A)  This does not match your prediction.  You know nothing about how this person interacts with others because he doesn’t interact with others.  Eliminate this choice.  (B)  This answer is meant to distract you because the Latin root “sed” can mean “apart.”  However, another meaning of the Latin root, the one that is used here is “calm.”  This does not match your prediction, so you can eliminate it.  (C)  This is the opposite of your prediction!  Eliminate it!  (D)  This answer may be tempting because the author is described as “most” something and people seem to want to know him.  Still, there is no indication that people appreciate this person’s writing.  Stick to your original prediction.  The sentence clearly indicates that this person is unsociable, so the word celebrated will not be the answer.  Eliminate it.  (E)  You may know the related word “recluse.”  This answer matches perfectly.

The correct answer is (E).

Words used in this SC:
Overbearing: demanding, bossy
Sedate: calm, composed
Sociable: friendly, congenial
Celebrated: famous, widely praised
Reclusive: preferring privacy and isolation


On sat.collegeboard.org, 77% of the responses were correct.

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