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Sentence Completions

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One of the released SAT essay prompts asks “Has today’s abundance of information only made it more difficult for us to understand the world around us?”  Before you answer this question, take a look at this current event.  This current event could be used to argue either yes or no, but think for a moment.  Have you ever heard this man’s name before?  Did you know any of the facts associated with the massacres of Guatemalan villagers?  If not, why not?  What other information have you absorbed instead? 

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 your answer choices so that they do not distract you while you read the sentence carefully.  Predict a word to fill the blank that you find easier, and then eliminate any answer choices that do not match your prediction for that blank.  Use the same method with the other blank.  Remember to eliminate each wrong choice, even if one answer matches one of your predictions exactly. 

Lazarro's last movie polarized viewers: while many ------- the film for its artfully directed scenes, others ------- it for being inaccessible.

The key word in this sentence is “polarized” – a Knowsys word!  However, you can still find the correct answer if you do not know what the word “polarized” means.  Start with the first blank.  If people think that the film is “artfully directed” that is a very positive observation.  If no word comes to mind immediately, predict “a positive word” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) praised . . extolled
(B) disparaged . . blamed
(C) regarded . . commended
(D) admired . . endorsed
(E) lauded . . criticized

(A) “Praised” is positive.  Keep it.  (B) Another Knowsys vocabulary word!  “Disparaged” is negative; it is the opposite of what you want.  Eliminate this answer choice.  (C) The word “regarded” often just means “to look.”  This is a neutral word rather than a positive word.  However, if you start over thinking the sentence, it is easy to remember that to “give that person my regards” is to give them respect or show interest in them.  If you aren’t comfortable with eliminating this word yet, keep it.  (D) “Admired” is positive.  Keep it.  (E) Another Knowsys word!  Remember that the Latin root “laud” means praise.  Keep this choice.

Now look at the second blank.  If people say that the film is inaccessible, that means that it was difficult to understand or they couldn’t get into it.  That is a criticism.  Predict “a negative word” and look down at your remaining answer choices.

(A) praised . . extolled
(C) regarded . . commended
(D) admired . . endorsed
(E) lauded . . criticized

(A) Another Knowsys word!  Are you studying your Knowsys SAT vocabulary?  If so, you know that extol is positive and you can eliminate it.  If not, keep it.  (C) This word is related to the word “recommend.”  If a teacher commends you or recommends you for something, those are good things.  Eliminate this choice.  (D) If celebrities endorse a product, they recommend trying that product and say positive things about it.  Eliminate this choice.  (E) You know that the word “criticized” is negative.  Always go with what you know on the SAT rather than hazarding a guess on what you don’t know.

Note:  If you knew the word “polarized,” you could have simply looked for two words that are opposites in your answer choices.

The correct answer is (E).

Words used in this SC:
Polarized: Made something completely opposite, at two different extremes
Extolled: Praised highly
Disparaged: Criticized disrespectfully
Regarded: Looked at or paid attention to
Commended: To reward or praise
Endorsed: To support or give approval to someone or something
Lauded: Praised


On sat.collegeboard.org, 64% of the responses were correct.

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