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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 the answer choices before reading the sentence because most of them are incorrect and intended to distract you from the correct answer.  Read the sentence carefully and predict a word to fill the blank.  Then match your prediction to the correct answer, eliminating any choices that do not match.  Be sure to look at all the answer choices before selecting your answer.

A group of Black American fighter pilots known as the Red Tail Angels has the ------- of never having lost any of the bombers it escorted on missions over Europe in the Second World War.

Paraphrase the sentence as you read it.  These fighters never lost any bombers on their missions.  This statement sounds pretty impressive; it sounds as if these fighters deserve recognition for their perfect record.  Predict the word “honor” or “credit” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) onus
(B) distinction
(C) imperative
(D) potential
(E) assignment

(A) If you have been studying your Knowsys vocabulary, you know a word related to this one: onerous.  The Latin root “oner” means burden.  Though these pilots were given a burdensome task, your prediction was positive to describe how well they completed their task.  “Onus” does not mean “honor.”  Eliminate it.

(B) You probably associate “dist” with distance.  In this case, think of it as “set apart.”  This word has changed slightly in meaning over the ages.  By the 1690s it came to mean “distinguished from others” or “excellent.”  If you say that an individual “served with distinction,” you are complementing that person and giving that individual credit.  This matches your prediction.

(C) The word “imperative” may be linked to the word “important” in your mind.  It may have been important for these fighters to protect the bombers on their missions, but the word “important” does not mean “honor.”  Eliminate this choice.

(D) Are you told you have the potential to do great things?  Potential is generally used for the future.  World War II is in the past.  You cannot say the group of fighters “has the potential” to do something that they have already done.  “Potential” has more to do with “a chance for honor” than “honor.”  Eliminate it.

(E) This answer also does not make sense chronologically.  You cannot say that the group of fighters “has the assignment” for World War II when World War II ended long ago.  They may have had the assignment, but just because you complete an assignment does not mean that you get honor or credit for doing a good job.  “Assignment” does not mean “honor.”  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Onus: burden of proof or obligation
Distinction: condition of being different or strong praise
Imperative: a command or a necessity
Potential: capacity to improve or possibility
Assignment: task or duty


On sat.collegeboard.org, 71% of the responses were correct.

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