Sentence Completions

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 answers as you read the sentence.  Choose the easier blank and predict an answer to fill that blank.  Eliminate any choice that does not match your prediction.  Then use the same process with the other blank.

Although the conference speakers disliked one another and might have been expected to -------, it turned out that on several substantive issues they were in complete ------- and were able to avoid petty squabbling.

This sentence give you many context clues.  Paraphrase it as you read it:  even though many people did not like each other, they avoided squabbling.  If people do not get along, especially speakers at an event, you can expect them to argue.  Predict the word “argue” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) argue . . disagreement
(B) bristle . . apathy
(C) debate . . dissonance
(D) concur . . denial
(E) bicker . . accord

(A)  This choice matches your prediction exactly.  However, you should always check all of the choices for synonyms of your prediction.  (B)  Bristle sounds like a negative word, and argue is also a negative word.  Keep this word if you are not sure you can eliminate it.  (C) Debate and argue sound similar, even though debate has a more positive connotation than argue.  If you are not sure you can eliminate a word, keep it.  (D)  The Latin root “con” means “with” or “together.”  The root “cur” means “run.”  If people are running together, they are in agreement instead of working against each other.  Eliminate this choice.  (E)  This word sounds negative, and your prediction was negative, so keep it.

Now turn your attention to the second blank.  Something kept these people from arguing.  These people must have found areas of agreement.  Predict the word “agreement” and look down at your remaining choices.

(A) argue . . disagreement
(B) bristle . . apathy
(C) debate . . dissonance
(E) bicker . . accord

(A)   “Disagreement” is the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.  (B)  Knowsys word!   If you are apathetic, it means that you do not care, not that you agree.  Eliminate this choice.  (C)  This word starts with the same Latin root as the word “disagreement.”  The root “dis” means “away” and the root “son” means “sound.”  You may recognize this word if you are a musician, but even if you are not, you can eliminate this word because it does not match your prediction.  (E)  At first glance, the word “accord” may not seem to match “agreement,” but think of the phrase “of one accord” or “in accordance with.”  These phrases are used when people come together and agree on something or with one another. 

The correct answer is (E).

Words used in this SC:
Substantive: essential or considerable
Petty: trifling, little, or inconsiderable
Squabbling: quarreling
Bristle: to react with fear or suspicion
Apathy: lack of interest
Dissonance: inharmonious, harsh sounds or disagreement
Concur: to agree
Bicker: to quarrel about petty things
Accord: agreement

On, 73% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit!