Blog

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Happy birthday to Rosa Parks who would have been 100 today.  Was she someone who happened to be in the wrong place at the right time, or an activist dedicated to  changing the world?  Find out here.

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 so that you will not be prejudiced by wrong answer choices as you read the sentence carefully.  Then make a prediction to fill the blank and compare it with the answer choices.  Eliminate any choices that do not match.  Be sure to look at all of the answer choices, even if you think that one answer matches perfectly.

Troy was ------- when he wasn’t elected class president: his spirits were so low that there was nothing we could say or do to cheer him up.

This sentence tells you exactly what belongs in the blank.  You know that Troy’s spirits were low and he could not be cheered up.  Predict the word that this information suggests to you; any word like “depressed” or “unhappy” will work.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) unctuous
(B) disconsolate
(C) ebullient
(D) inscrutable
(E) tenacious

(A) You may not know the word “unctuous,” but you can probably see that it is a negative word.  Keep any word that you do not have a specific reason to eliminate.

(B) Break down this word.  The Latin root “dis” means “away.”  That leaves “consolate,” and you know that to console someone is to make them feel better.  If a person is away from or beyond feeling better, that person is definitely unhappy.  This matches your prediction; since you should generally pick what you know on the SAT rather than what you do not know, it might be the answer you pick.  However, before you select this choice, you should quickly check the other words.

(C) This is a Knowsys vocabulary word!  It comes from a Latin verb meaning to boil over: the “e” comes from “ex” and the “bullire” comes from the Latin “to bubble.”  If you are ebullient, you are so lively and enthusiastic that you cannot contain yourself.  This is the opposite of your prediction!  Eliminate it.

(D) The Latin root “in” can mean “not” while “scrut” is the same root that appears in your Knowsys vocabulary word “scrutinize.”  To scrutinize something is to examine it closely.  If you cannot scrutinize or understand something, it is mysterious, which has nothing to do with your prediction.  Eliminate it.

(E) The Latin root “ten” means “hold.”  If you are tenacious, you intentionally hold fast to something.  That sounds more like the word “determined” than the word “depressed.”  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Unctuous: having oily characteristics or excessively pious, even smug
Disconsolate: beyond consolation, downcast, cheerless
Ebullient: lively and enthusiastic
Inscrutable: difficult or impossible to comprehend
Tenacious: unyielding, stubborn, determined


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

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