SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

Select the word that best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

Before attending the exhibition I assumed that Johnson was an authority on ink painting, but it turned out that his understanding of the art was shallow, and he would better be described as -------. 

A.   an indigent

B.   a dilettante

C.   a charlatan

D.   a virtuoso

E.   a philanthropist


Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up your answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully.  This is a vocab-based question; it gives you the definition of the missing word right in the sentence!  What would you call someone who has only a shallow understanding of an art?  If no word comes to mind immediately, you can use the definition as your prediction.  If you want to think about the question in a logical fashion, you could also notice that the missing word must contrast the idea of "an authority."  This might lead you to conclude that the person is an "amateur."  Predict the word "amateur" and look down at your choices.

A.  The word "indigent" is often used as an adjective, but it is also okay to use it as a noun as this sentence does.  Your question is does it match the meaning of "amateur."  The word "indigent" means "in want."  You can remember this if you picture an individual digging into his pockets without finding a cent.  This does not match your prediction.  Eliminate it.

B.   This word comes from a Latin word that means "to delight."  Think for a second about your prediction, "amateur."  The Latin root "amat" means love.  Both an amateur and a dilettante love dabbling in something even though they are not professionals.  This matches your prediction exactly.  Keep this choice and quickly check the remaining ones.

C.   This word is often applied to doctors who are quacks or do not know what they are doing.  A charlatan pretends to have more skill than he really does; he is a fake.  Look back at the original sentence.  Notice that the speaker "assumed" that Johnson was an authority.  There is no indication that Johnson was hypocritical.  Eliminate this choice.

D.   The word "virtuoso" is used often to indicate skill in music, just as the word connoisseur is used often to indicate an ability to discern tastes.  You can probably tell that this is a positive word that would not contrast the label of "an authority."  Eliminate this choice. 

E.   The Latin root "phil" means "love," and the Latin root "anthrop" means "human."  A philanthropist loves others so much that he is willing to open his wallet and share his wealth with those who are less fortunate.  Your prediction has to do with loving art, not loving people and giving them money.  Eliminate this choice.


The correct choice is (B). 

This is a medium level question.


Words used in this SC:

Indigent: a poor person

Dilettante: someone who loves the fine arts or dabbles in a field

Charlatan: someone who pretends to more skill than he possesses

Virtuoso: someone with a lot of skill or knowledge, particularly in the arts

Philanthropist: a generous person who loves humanity


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