SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

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

I tried to ------- interest in the lecture, but the topic was so ------- that I did not understand a word. 

A.   transcend . . . regressive

B.   suppress . . . convoluted

C.   finagle . . . diminutive

D.   circumvent . . . multifaceted

E.   feign . . . arcane


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, you must use logic to fill the first blank, but the second blank is defined in the sentence.  Focus on the second blank first.  How would you describe a topic that you could not understand?  The topic must be difficult.  Use the word "difficult" as your prediction and look down at the second part of each answer choice.

A..  You probably recognize the Latin prefix "re," which means "again" or "back."  To regress is to go backwards, so something regressive looks backwards or refers to the past.  Does regressive mean difficult?  No.  Eliminate this choice. 

B.  The Latin root "con" means "together" and the Latin root "volut" means roll, so the word "convoluted" indicates that many things are rolled up together.  When many issues are involved in a decision, it will become convoluted and difficult to decide.  Does convoluted mean difficult?  Yes.  Keep this choice.

C.   Something that diminishes is getting smaller.  The word "diminutive" must mean small.  Does diminutive mean difficult?  No.  Eliminate this choice.

D.  In Latin "multi" means "many."  If there are many things involved in a topic, it is probably complex.  "Multifaceted" could mean difficult, so keep this choice.

E.   If you do not know the meaning of a word, keep it!  You can remember the meaning of the word "arcane" if you picture archaeologists finding a strange artifact from a long lost culture.  Only a specialist could try to determine what this strange thing might be.  Something arcane is mysterious and therefore difficult to understand.  Keep this choice.

Now that you have dealt with the second blank, go back to the original sentence.  If a topic is really difficult and someone doesn't understand it, is that person going to be interested in a lecture about it?  No!  That person may try to convince himself that the lecture is interesting, or he may pretend that he understands, but he is not interested.  You don't have to make an exact prediction for this blank since there are a couple of possibilities.  You know that this blank must show that there is no real interest in this lecture.   Look down at the remaining choices.

B.  If you suppress something, you try to hold it down.  This choice indicates that the listener has interest but is trying not to pay attention.  That does not match your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.

D.   The word "circumvent" almost has the word "circle" in it, so it is easy to see that it means "to go around."  This choice says that the person has too much interest to understand the lecture, which does not make any sense.  Eliminate this choice.

E.   The word "feign" is the SAT way to say "to fake."  If someone is faking interest, then that means that they do not really have interest.  This matches your prediction!


The correct answer is (E).

This is a difficult question. 


Words used in this SC: 

Transcend: to rise above or triumph over

Regressive: tending to move backwards

Suppress: to put down by authority or to subdue

Convoluted: intricate or complicated

Finagle: to get something by indirect means or trickery

Diminutive: exceptionally or notably small

Circumvent: to avoid or go around

Multifaceted: having many facets, aspects, or phases

Feign: to fake

Arcane: mysterious or understood by only a few


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