SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

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

Charles University in Prague was the first university in Central Europe, and it has sustained its position as a ------- and important center of learning through the tumult of hundreds of years. 

A.  phlegmatic

B.  complacent

C.   steadfast

D.  inscrutable

E.  multifaceted


Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up your answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully.  What is the author emphasizing?  Time!  This was the first university and it has lasted a long time.  Predict that the author wants to describe this university as "lasting" or "enduring."  Look down at your answer choices.

A.  "Phlegmatic" is actually a fascinating word.  It comes from way back when the Greeks were attempting to explain human nature through the balance of four bodily fluids.  The Greeks believed that if a person had a lot of phlegm (yes, phlegm like today's mucus), that person would be cold and unemotional.  This would look like a good choice if you focused on the idea that the university endured through tumult (violence and disorder), but is it really possible for a university to be emotional or unemotional?  Emotions are specific to people.  This choice doesn't match your prediction, so eliminate it.

B.  You may have heard the commonplace saying that it is easy to become complacent with time, but time doesn't necessarily make an institution complacent.  In order for this institution to remain an important center of learning, it must have developed and changed with the times.  Complacent does not mean lasting.  Eliminate this choice.

C.  You could think about the word "steadfast" as meaning standing or holding fast to a purpose over a long period of time.  This matches your prediction exactly!  Quickly check the remaining answer choices.

D.  The word "inscrutable" is easily broken down into its roots.  In Latin, the "in" means "not" while "scrut" means to search and examine (think of scrutinize).  Basically this word means that whatever it describes cannot be fully seen or understood.  That doesn't match your prediction of "lasting," so eliminate this choice.

E.  Multifaceted is also easy to break down.  In Latin "mult" means many, so this word describes something that has many facets or many parts.  While it is true that the university has many parts, this does not match your prediction, so it does not fit the context of the sentence.  Eliminate this choice.


The correct answer is (C). 

This is a medium level question. 


Words used in this SC:

Phlegmatic: calm, impassive, and not easily agitated

Complacent: self-satisfied or unconcerned

Steadfast: firmly fixed and unchanging

Inscrutable:  cannot be understood or investigated

 Multifaceted: having many facets, aspects, or phases


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