Select the word that best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.
At first basketball games were played in dance halls and rarely drew crowds, but now the game and its stars receive international -------.
Always start by covering up your answer choices so that they do not distract you. Read the sentence carefully. This sentence sets up a contrast signaled by the keyword "but." The contrast is between the early days of basketball ("at first") when the game "rarely drew crowds" and the current game. Even if you know nothing about basketball right now, you can contrast few people watching a game with many people watching a game. Predict that the game and its stars have international "fame." Look down at your answer choices.
A. Does the word "bombast" sound negative to you? From humble beginnings, basketball grew into something much greater. You need a positive word like "fame." Eliminate this choice.
B. This may seem like a good answer if you know anything about basketball because the players did not originally receive salaries. However, why would the word "salaries" need to be modified by the word "international"? Maybe players get paid in more than one country, but a salary comes from one source. You would say something like a "huge" salary if you were describing this word. Remember that the word you predicted is fame because you need to contrast the idea of only a few people watching the games. Eliminate this choice because it does not fit the context of the sentence.
C. Maybe you don't know exactly what "solace" means, but you know that solace comes after something bad. If you comfort someone, you offer them consolation. Do you see a common root between "solace" and "consolation"? The Latin root "sol" can often mean "sun" or "alone," but here it means "soothe." Basketball players may have needed soothing in the beginning when few people watched their games, but if players are doing well and are famous now, they probably require little soothing. Eliminate this choice.
D. What does the word "plateau" mean? A plateau is a hill with a flat top. The root "plat" comes from Old French and means flat. Without knowing that the word "platitudes" means flat or empty phrases, you can surmise that the word is slightly negative. You are looking for the positive word "fame." Eliminate this choice.
E. You have probably heard the words "critically acclaimed" in an advertisement for a performance. Does that mean that the critics like or dislike this performance? They like it a lot! Acclaim is praise. This word doesn't fit your prediction of fame exactly, but plug it back into the sentence. If basketball is internationally acclaimed, that means that many people around the world praise it. In other words, it is famous.
The correct answer is (E).
This is a medium level question.
Words used in this SC:
Bombast: lofty, inflated speech without meaning
Salary: money paid to a worker, usually measured in years or months rather than hourly
Solace: comfort or relief
Platitude: a trite, overused statement
Acclaim: to approve, praise, or applaud