SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

Select the words that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

This award cannot be won with a ------- attitude toward success; only those who have a ------- devotion to their work will be considered.

A.   slovenly . . . puerile

B.   diligent . . . cloying

C.   detached . . . languid

D.   lackadaisical . . . sedulous

E.   fervent . . . resolute


Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up your answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully.  You want to choose the easier blank to work with first.  In this case, it is not hard to predict the first blank.  An award cannot be won with what kind of attitude toward success?  An uncaring attitude.  Predict the word "uncaring" and look down at your answer choices to see which ones match the meaning of this word.

A.  Remember that "slovenly" is the SAT way to call someone "sloppy" or a "slob."  This word might work as "uncaring" in some contexts, so hang on to it.

B.  Diligent students work hard, so this is the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate this choice. 

C.  The word "detached" comes from "de," which means "away from" in Latin, and "attach."  So someone who is detached tries to stay separated from a group or idea.  This word can mean "uncaring" in some contexts, so you should keep it if you are not sure whether it fits.

D.  The word "lackadaisical" should be connected with the word "lax" in your mind.  "Lax" means careless or negligent, which is exactly what you predicted!  Keep this answer choice.

E.   The word "fervent" originally described something that was hot and boiling, so it figuratively means "passionate."  If someone is passionate about success, it is illogical to say that this person cannot win an award.  Eliminate this choice.


Now look at the second blank in the original sentence.  This one is a little more open, but you can still make a prediction.  What kind of devotion do you need to win an award?  Predict a word such as "firm" or "strong" or "unyielding."  Then look down at the choices that you have not eliminated.

A.  If you speak French or Spanish, you will probably be able to recognize the word "puerile" as meaning "childish." That does not match your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.

C.  "Languid" is the SAT way to say "lazy."  There can be no such thing as "a languid devotion" because the two terms contradict each other!  Eliminate this choice. 

D.  You can remember the word "sedulous" if you think about it this way:  a person SEES something DULL and still does it.  The word  "sedulous" means "diligent and hardworking."  This matches your prediction and makes sense in context!  


The correct answer is (D). 

This is a hard question. 


Words used in this SC: 

Slovenly: messy or careless

Puerile: childish or silly

Diligent: constant in an effort to accomplish something

Cloying: so much that it is disgusting

Detached: separated, disconnected, and free from bias or self-interest

Languid: lacking energy or vigor

Lackadaisical: lacking spirit or enthusiasm

Sedulous: diligent (constant in an effort to accomplish something) 

Fervent: intensely eager or warm

Resolute: determined and steady


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