SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

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

The writer's pieces were ------- and -------; she had a talent for expressing profound truths in language that anyone could understand. 

A.   obsequious . . . erudite

B.   sagacious . . . convoluted

C.   pliable . . . verbose

D.   trenchant . . . lucid

E.   eclectic . . . inscrutable

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, both blanks are defined in the sentence.  Focus on the first blank first.  How would you describe writing that expresses profound truths?  That writing must be insightful.  Use the word "insightful" as your prediction and look down at the first part of each answer choice.

A.  The word "obsequious" comes from the Latin term "obsequiosus," which means compliant or obedient.  Over time, this word took on a pejorative connotation, referring to people who fawn over their superiors so obsessively that it is annoying to everyone around them.  Does this term match our prediction of insightful?  No.  Eliminate this choice. 

B.  You may not recognize "sagacious," but you have probably heard the term "sage," which refers a wise person.  Wise is similar to insightful.  Keep this choice for now.  

C.   "Pliable" comes from the French word "plier," which means to bend.  (Think of ballerinas doing pliées.)  "Pliable" basically means flexible, which does not match our prediction of insightful.  Eliminate this choice. 

D.  When you see the word "trenchant," think about digging a deep trench because this word means deep or insightful.  It matches our prediction very well, but we still need to check the second blanks.  Keep this choice for now. 

E.   "Eclectic" traces back to the Greek word "eklektikos," which means picking out.  When something is eclectic, it is made up of items from a variety of sources.  You can remember this word if you think about the fact that it sounds a little like "I collect it."  Does "eclectic" match our prediction of insightful?  No, so eliminate this choice.  

Now that you have dealt with the first blank, go back to the original sentence.  If writing is easy for anyone to understand, it must be clear and straightforward.  Using "clear" as a prediction for the second blank, look down at the remaining choices.

B.  "Convoluted" sounds sort of like "confusing," and it means something similar.  Something "convoluted" is so complicated that it is difficult to understand.  This is the opposite of our prediction, so eliminate this choice.

D.   When you see "lucid" think of lucite, a clear material that is often substituted for glass.  "Lucid" means clear or easy to understand, so it matches our prediction.  This is the correct answer!

The correct answer is (D).

This is a medium level question. 


Words used in this SC: 

obsequious: acting like a servant

erudite: intellectual or learned

sagacious: wise or shrewd

convoluted: intricate or complicated

pliable: flexible or yielding

verbose: wordy

trenchant: very perceptive and insightful

lucid: clear or sane

eclectic: composed of elements drawn from various sources

inscrutable: cannot be understood or investigated


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