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 up your answer choices before reading the sentence. Most of them are wrong, and they will distract you and prejudice the way that you read the sentence. Read the sentence carefully and make a prediction about the kind of answer that you need. Then you should look at the answer choices and match your prediction to the correct answer choice, eliminating any answers that do not match. Look at all 5 choices, even if one seems to match right away.
Theof drug-resistant strains of bacteria and viruses has researchers’ hopes that permanent victories against many diseases have been achieved.
Take a moment to think about this sentence. There are two things involved here: drug-resistant bacteria and researchers who want victories against it. Now think about the relationship between the two blanks. If something good happens to the bacteria, what happens to the researchers’ hopes? They are crushed. If something bad happens to the bacteria, what happens to the researchers? They are happy! Basically, you need both a positive word and a negative word to complete this sentence. That means that you can eliminate any answer choice with two positive words, two negative words, or even any neutral words. Look down at your answer choices and try to determine whether the words used are positive, negative, or neutral. Writing a plus or minus sign next to the words can keep you focused and help you quickly see choices to eliminate. Many times you will not need to know the meaning of a word to eliminate it!
(A) vigor . . corroborated
(B) feebleness . . dashed
(C) proliferation . . blighted
(D) destruction . . disputed
(E) disappearance . . frustrated
(A) Look at the word vigor. Remember that the Latin roots vit and viv both mean life. While you don’t have a perfect match to these roots here, it is okay to connect the beginning letters “vi” with life and mark this as a positive word. Then look at the word corroborated. The Latin prefix cor- is like the prefix con-: it means together. Words that mean together generally give people warm fuzzy feelings, so this word seems positive. You have two positive words (+, +), so you can eliminate this answer choice.
(B) Feebleness is negative, and dashing hopes is definitely bad. You have two negative words (-, -), so you can eliminate this choice.
(C) The word proliferation should sound very positive to you because it has the Latin root pro (for) in it. Try to think if you have ever heard the word blighted before. Blighted crops? That is a bad thing. This answer choice contains a positive and a negative word (+, -), so keep it and quickly check the other answer choices.
(D) The word destruction has the prefix de- in it, meaning down. Tearing something down is negative. The word dispute has the prefix dis-, meaning apart or away. Think of the word disagreement and mark it as negative. You can eliminate this answer choice because it has two negative words (-, -).
(E) Disappearances are usually bad for whatever disappeared, and frustration is always a bad feeling. Both of these words are negative (-, -). Eliminate this answer choice.
The correct answer choice is (C).
Words used in this SC:
Vigor: active strength and energy, or healthy growth
Corroborated: confirmed, strengthened, supported
Dashed: broken, often violently (The SAT loves multiple-definition words!)
Blighted: wilting or deteriorating
Destruction: tearing down
Disappearance: action of vanishing
Frustrated: disappointed and discontent
On sat.collegeboard.org, 54% of the responses were correct.
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