Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

A ------- person, he found the training almost unbearably monotonous, but he resolved to check his ------- and perform the basic tasks required.

The first step in the Knowsys Method for Sentence Completions is to cover the answers, but the best I can do over the Internet is to move them below the jump. Don't peek! Looking at the answer choices before examining the given sentence can prejudice the way you think about the question. This sentence has two blanks, so the second step is to determine which is the easier--that is, which one tells you the most about the answer. For this sentence, look at the first blank first because the surrounding words indicate that this person found his training "unbearably monotonous." What kinds of people find training monotonous? Vivacious, ebullient, animated people would. Any of these--or any synonym--could be your prediction for this blank. Once you've chosen a prediction, look at the words available for the first blank.

A ------- person, he found the training almost unbearably monotonous...

Answer Choices
  • (D) mercurial . . constancy

You can immediately eliminate A and B, because we are not talking about a "bitter" or "reclusive" person, just someone who finds his training boring. If you don't know what "mercurial" means, don't rule out D just yet. Of course, you can look it up and discover that it means "changeable" or "animated," but remember that you won't have a dictionary on the SAT. For now, you've narrowed the possible answer choices down to three--few enough that you could guess if you had to. Fortunately, you don't have to yet. Look at the second blank.

...but he resolved to check his ------- and perform the basic tasks required.

It's harder to make a true prediction after looking at the answer choices, but think about how you would feel in a monotonous training. If you don't know what "constancy" (D) means, you can reason that it seems related to "constant" and tentatively rule it out. "Ambition" (E) could work; after all, an ambitious person might not like other people trying to train him to do things their way, but this answer choice requires too much explanation. That only leaves choice C, "restless," which along with "dynamic" fits the meaning of the sentence perfectly.

dynamic person, he found the training almost unbearably monotonous, but he resolved to check his restlessness and perform the basic tasks required.

Words tested in this SC:
Monotonous: unvaried and boring
Bitter: characterized by intense antagonism or hostility
Submissiveness: inclination or readiness to submit; unresisting or humble obedience
Reclusive: characterized by seclusion; solitary
Reservedcharacterized by reserve, restraint, silence, or reticence
Dynamic: characterized by energy or effective action; vigorously active or forceful; energetic
Restlessness: inability to remain at rest
Mercurial: changeable or animated
Constancy: the quality of being unchanging or unwavering
Vivacious: lively, animated
Ambitionan earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction

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