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Sentence Completions

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SAT essay questions require you to think carefully about  a situation and take a stand.  Take a look at this current event that concerns the adoption of Russian children by American citizens.  What are the major issues at stake here?  How could this current event serve as an excellent example for SAT questions involving the relationship of the government to individuals, power, change, or the role of feelings in decision making?  All of these themes have been part of SAT questions before, so make sure to note the facts involved if this issue interests you.

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. 

Cover the answer choices before you read the sentence so that you do not jump to an incorrect conclusion.  Read the sentence carefully and focus on the blank that seems easier.  Make a prediction for that blank, and then eliminate any answer choices that do not match that prediction.  Use the same process for the other blank. 

That the edelweiss appears to be ------- is an illusion: the flower actually is incredibly -------, able to survive in extreme temperatures.

The sentence defines the second blank after a comma.  You know that you are looking for a word that means “able to survive” in difficult circumstances.  If no word immediately comes to mind, use the words in the sentence as your prediction and look down at your answer choices.

(A) hardy . . malleable
(B) fragile . . resilient
(C) durable . . resistant
(D) stunning . . slight
(E) unique . . tenacious

(A)  Does malleable mean able to survive?  If you are not sure, keep this answer choice.  (B)  Resilient matches your prediction, so keep it.  (C) Resistant does not match even though it may seem to at first.  Resistant to what?  You would have to use the phrase “resistant to destruction” for this to match.  The single word alone does not express the meaning of your prediction, so eliminate this answer choice.  (D)  The word slight does not match your prediction.  Think of a slight difference.  That is not a very strong difference, so this word will not mean strong and able to survive.  Eliminate it.  (E)  The Latin root “ten” means hold.  Someone who is tenacious will hold on even in adverse circumstances.  This matches your prediction, so keep it. 

You are now ready to look at the first blank.  Paraphrase the sentence to make the logic clear to yourself:  “The flower appears one way, but it is actually able to survive.”  You need a word to contrast the second blank that meant “able to survive.”  Predict a word such as weak or frail and look down at the remaining answer choices.

(A) hardy . . malleable
(B) fragile . . resilient
(E) unique . . tenacious

(A) The word hardy is the opposite of weak, so eliminate this choice.  (B) Fragile matches your prediction.  (C) The word unique has nothing to do with the ability to survive.  It cannot contrast the ability to survive, and it does not mean weak.  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Hardy: having rugged physical strength
Malleable: able to be shaped, flexible
Fragile: easily broken or destroyed
Resilient: able to endure adversity
Durable: able to resist decay
Resistant: one who resists or counters
Stunning: shocking or exceptionally beautiful
Slight: small, weak, gentle, or insignificant
Unique: one of a kind, unparalleled
Tenacious: persistent, holding fast, tough


On sat.collegeboard.org, 74% of the responses were correct.

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