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Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Current events may be used to distinguish the present from the past or link the present to the past.  You have all learned about the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, the one abolishing slavery.  Read this article explaining that the last state has finally ratified that amendment.  After all these years, is this an empty gesture or a meaningful conclusion?  Pay particular attention to the motivation of those behind the ratification and notice that they were not government employees.  How many common SAT themes can you spot in this current event?  Which details should you write down in order to use this current event effectively in an essay format?

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 up the answer choices and read the sentence carefully.  Select the blank that seems easier to you and focus on predicting a word for that blank.   Uncover your answer choices and eliminate any that do not match your prediction.  Use the same process with the other blank. 

Allison had only ------- knowledge of the recent legislation; although she had glanced at a summary, she had not ------- the details of the new law's many provisions.

Start with the first blank.  When you use the word “only,” you are generally trying to emphasize that the amount of something is small.  The idea that Allison did not have a lot of knowledge is also supported by the fact that she “glanced at a summary.”  Predict that she has “a little” knowledge and look down at your answer choices.

(A) superficial . . examined
(B) subjective . . studied
(C) sketchy . . vacated
(D) questionable . . endorsed
(E) cursory . . opposed

(A) A superficial observer only sees what is obvious.  Allison only took a glance.  The word “superficial” could mean “a little,” so keep it.  (B) The word “subjective” is the opposite of “objective.”  “Subjective” does not mean “a little,” so eliminate this choice.  (C) A sketch is quick and hasty, and so was Allison’s look at the summary.  “Sketchy” can mean “a little,” so keep this choice.  (D) “Questionable” does not usually mean “a little,” but the word could be used to emphasize that Alison does not know much about the legislation.  Keep it.  (E) The Latin root “curs” means “run.”  This word also implies haste, just as Alison’s glance did, so keep it.

Now look at the second blank.  It comes after the keyword “although.”  This word lets you know that there must be a contrast between the next two ideas.  If the first idea is that Allison only glanced at a summary, then the second idea would logically be that she carefully read all of the details.  Predict “carefully read” and look down at the remaining answer choices.

(A) superficial . . examined
(C) sketchy . . vacated
(D) questionable . . endorsed
(E) cursory . . opposed

(A) “Examined” matches your prediction perfectly.  Before you select it, check the other answer choices.  (C) The Latin root “vac” means empty, and you have probably heard of vacant houses before.  “Vacated” does not mean “carefully read,” so eliminate this choice.  (D)  You know that when celebrities endorse products, they recommend them to the public.  You do not care how Allison felt about the legislation; you just want to know that she read it carefully.  Eliminate this choice.  (E) “Opposed” does not mean “carefully read.”  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (A).

Words used in this SC:
Superficial: shallow, based on face value
Examined: observed or inspected critically, studied
Subjective: based on feeling rather than reasoning
Sketchy: rough or hasty
Vacated: left or moved out
Questionable: problematic, open to doubt
Endorsed: supported with approval or wrote on a check
Cursory: brief or broad, not cautious or detailed
Opposed: against something


On sat.collegeboard.org, 66% of the responses were correct.

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