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Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Today's question has to do with the environment.  Take a look at this article, which suggests ways to reduce food waste.  Do you agree that this is a significant problem?  Why or why not?  Do you see themes in this article that could help you link it to a broad SAT essay question?  What details would make you sound informed as you write about this issue?

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.  Make a prediction to fill the blank, then match that prediction to the correct answer choice.  Eliminate any answer choices that do not match your prediction.  Make sure you look at all of the answer choices before selecting one, even if the first choice seems to be correct.

Currently rising temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic are ------- of a still warmer world that could result from an excess of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the burning of oil, gas, and coal.

This is a sentence that is very carefully crafted in order to ensure that there is only one correct answer.  You must read carefully in order to make the correct choice.  When you see that the first word of the sentence is “currently,” you should realize that time will be important in this question.  The second part of the sentence that has to do with time reads, “a still warmer world that could result.”  Notice that this is something that may or may not happen in the future.  You need a word to show that the temperatures that are rising now indicate that future temperatures could also rise.  Predict a word such as “indicative,” “forerunners,” or “signs.”  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) polarities
(B) harbingers
(C) vestiges
(D) counterexamples
(E) aftereffects

(A)  This word is here to distract you.  Two different poles were mentioned in the sentence, the Arctic and Antarctic, but you are worried about the impact on the whole world.  Also, remember that if things are polar, they are usually opposite, but the same thing seems to be happening in both of these places.  Eliminate this choice.

(B)  In the 15th century a “herbengar” was someone who went ahead of a large group of travelers (such as an army or a king’s retinue) and made sure that they would be able to secure lodgings in the next town.  The modern word is very similar in meaning.  A “harbinger” is a forerunner, letting you know that something else is coming.  This matches your prediction exactly.  Keep this choice.

(C)  This word is also tricky.  You may have learned that a vestige is a trace or a sign.  At first that seems exactly like your prediction.  Think of a vestige as more like a footprint.  It tells you that something has already passed or happened.   You are looking for a word that indicates that something will happen in the future.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  The Arctic and the Antarctic cannot be counterexamples because the same thing is happening in both places.  Temperatures are rising in both places, and that may mean that temperatures will rise in other places.  The rising temperatures are consistent.  Furthermore, this does not match your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  This word, like option (C), points to something that has occurred in the past.  You are looking for a word that points to the future.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Polarities: two opposite or contrasting principles or tendencies
Harbingers: people or things that foreshadow or foretell the coming of another
Vestiges: traces or signs left by something that is no longer present
Counterexamples: exceptions to a proposed general rule
Aftereffects:  delayed effects that are not immediately manifested


On sat.collegeboard.org, 45% of the responses were correct.

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