SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

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

The candidate ------- her opponent for casting ------- instead of focusing on political issues, and she invited him to attack her views rather than her character.

A.  vilified . . . doubt

B.  reproached . . . aspersions

C.   extolled . . . propaganda

D.   criticized . . . shadows

E.  lauded . . . judgments


Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up your answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully.  Which blank seems to have the most context clues?  You should immediately have some sense of the first blank because you know that the candidate is not happy with her opponent.  She probably scolded him and criticized him publicly.  Use "criticized" as your prediction and look down at the first blank.

A.  This word is related to the word "villain."   The candidate is not going to try to turn her opponent into a villain - she seems to be complaining that he tried to turn her into a villain by attacking her character.  Eliminate this choice.

B.  This word looks like it could mean a couple of different things.  You may know that it is a negative word.  Do not eliminate a word if you do not know the meaning, so keep it. 

C.  Connect the word "extol" with the word "exalt" in your mind.  These two words have to do with figuratively lifting someone or something up.  This is the opposite of the prediction that you made, so eliminate this choice.

D.  This matches your prediction exactly.  Keep it.

E.  This word is very positive, it has the same root as the word "applaud."  This is the opposite of your prediction, so eliminate this choice. 

You have narrowed the answer choices down to B and D.   Take a look at the second blank.  From the original sentence, you can tell that the candidate's opponent has been attacking her character; she wants him to stop.  If you don't know a word that fits the blank, predict that it has something to do with attacking another's character.  

B.  The word "casting" is frequently used with "aspersions."  "Aspersions" is a very negative word and it is most often used when someone is engaged in a smear campaign, or mudslinging.  This choice perfectly matches the context of the sentence.  Keep it.

D.  The word "casting" is often used with "shadows," but the context of this sentence is all wrong for the word "shadows."  If you read this sentence with the word "shadows," it seems as if candidate's opponent is creating shadow puppets, a pursuit incongruous with the actions of attacking another person's character.  Eliminate this choice.


The correct answer is B. 

This is a medium level question.


Words used in this SC: 

Vilify:  to defame or slander

Doubt: to distrust

Reproach: to blame and express disapproval

Aspersions: slander

Extol: to praise highly

Propaganda:  information meant to influence someone's views

Laud: praise


Want some help with SAT Vocabulary?  Check out these helpful resources:

Subscribe to Knowsys SAT & ACT Blog by Email