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Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Approach each reading question systematically.  Cover up the answer choices.  Focus on the blank that seems easier and make a prediction for that blank.  Then eliminate any answer choice that does not match your prediction for that blank.  Use the same process with the other blank.

Explorer David Livingstone has ------- reputation: some historians revile him as a proponent of imperialism, while others ------- him as a founder of African Nationalism.

Look at the first blank.  The structure of this sentence tells you everything that you need to know about David Livingstone’s reputation.  Some people believe one thing about him, but others believe something else.  Predict that his reputation is “twofold.” 

(A) a substantial . . exalt
(B) a sketchy . . vilify
(C) an illustrious . . dismiss
(D) a dichotomous . . praise
(E) a pristine . . castigate

(A) Something that is substantial has a lot of substance.  You don’t care whether Livingstone’s reputation is big; you care that his reputation is divisive.  Eliminate this choice because it does not match your prediction.  (B) The word “sketchy” does not mean “twofold.”  Eliminate this choice.  (C) The word “illustrious” is related to the word “illuminated.”  If something is illuminated, it is visible.  Livingstone’s reputation seems a little unclear because different people believe different things about him.  Eliminate this choice.  (D)  You should recognize the Latin root “di,” which means “two.”  This matches your prediction.  Keep this choice.  (E)  If you are not sure what this word means, keep it and move on to the next blank.

Start with the information that you know.  Some people “revile” Livingston.  You know that something vile is really bad.  Even if you are not sure about the meaning of this word, you might remember imperialism mentioned in a negative context in a history class.  If some people think that this man had a negative influence, but others do not feel the same way, it makes sense that the others think of Livingston as having a positive influence.  Predict a positive word or phrase.  You might choose the word “applaud” or “honor.”  Look down at the answer choices that you have not yet eliminated.

(D) a dichotomous . . praise
(E) a pristine . . castigate

(D)  The word “praise” is definitely positive.  Keep this choice.  (E)  This word may be confusing to you if you recognize that the Latin root “cast” means “pure.”  However, this word actually means “to purify,” and correction can be a painful process.  Anything in need of purification is not positive.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (D).

Words used in this SC:
Revile: to attack someone with abusive language
Proponent: one who supports something; an advocate
Imperialism: forcefully extending a nation’s authority
Substantial: of considerable amount, or of solid character
Exalt: honor, esteem
Sketchy: crudely outlined, incomplete, or unsafe
Vilify: defame or slander
Illustrious: highly distinguished or famous
Dismiss: discard or reject
Dichotomous: divided into two pieces
Praise: commendation or thanks
Pristine: unspoiled
Castigate: correct or punish severely


On sat.collegeboard.org, 62% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Those who overcome obstacles inspire others to do the same.  Remember the young girl who was shot for advocating education for girls?  (You can review the original story from last October here.)  This girl has been nominated for a Nobel peace prize and is now resuming her own education.  If this story interests you, write down the broad themes from it (such as education) and specific details (such as the spelling of Malala and her age, 15).  Think about how you could use the broad themes in this current event to support a position on almost any essay prompt, then try connecting it to the prompts below:

(1) Is it important to question the ideas and decisions of people in positions of authority?
(2) Can knowledge be a burden rather than a benefit?
(3) Has today’s abundance of information only made it more difficult to understand the world around us?

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover up the answer choices until you have read the sentence carefully and made a prediction to fill the easier blank.  Then eliminate any choices that do not match your prediction.  Do the same with the other blank.

Laboratories have been warned that provisions for animal protection that in the past were merely ------- will now be mandatory; ------- of this policy will lose their federal research grants.

Look at the first blank.  Animal protection was once one thing, but now it is mandatory.  The “now” lets you know that a change has been made.  You can predict the word “optional,” but remember that any word that could be used for something that is “not mandatory” will work.

(A) comprehensive . . adversaries
(B) nominal . . advocates
(C) disregarded . . proponents
(D) recommended . . violators
(E) compulsory . . resisters

(A) Your teachers have probably told you at some point that you would have a comprehensive test.  That kind of test covers a lot of the topics that you studied.  These tests are generally not optional!  Look back at the original sentence and notice the word “merely.”  The words “merely” and “comprehensive” sound odd together.  This is like saying that the test “only includes a lot,” which is not strictly logical.  Eliminate this choice.  (B)  If you don’t know a word, keep the answer choice.  (C) Something disregarded could be optional. Keep this choice.  (D)  This seems like the strongest answer.  Recommended means optional but advisable, and it seems advisable to protect animals.  Keep it.  (E)  This word is a synonym of mandatory; it is the opposite of what you want.  Eliminate it.

Now look at the second blank.  The second blank involves a punishment, the loss of research grants.  People who do not do mandatory things get punished for it.  Predict “disobedient people” and look down at your answer choices.

(B) nominal . . advocates
(C) disregarded . . proponents
(D) recommended . . violators

(B)  Knowsys word!  People who advocate something are for that thing.  If they are for the policy, they will not disobey it.  Eliminate this choice.  (C) A proponent is also for something.  Eliminate this choice.  (D)  You see signs everywhere that list rules along with the words, “Violators will be prosecuted.”  Violators break rules.  Keep this choice.

The correct answer is (D).

Words used in this SC:
Comprehensive: broadly or completely covering something
Adversaries: opponents or rivals
Nominal: being such in name only, or minimal
Advocates: people speaking in support of something
Disregarded: ignored
Proponents: supporters, advocates
Recommended: suggested, encouraged
Violators: people who break the rules
Compulsory: required, mandatory
Resisters: people who fight against something


On sat.collegeboard.org, 73% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover up your answers until you have read the sentence carefully and made a prediction to fill the easier blank.  Then eliminate any answer choice that does not match your prediction.  Use the same method for the other blank, carefully looking at all the choices that have not yet been eliminated.  You can select the correct answer even if you do not know the meaning of several of the words.

His inclination to succumb to flattery made him ------- to the ------- of people who wished to take advantage of him.

Look at the first blank.  Notice the structure of this sentence.  This man is inclined to succumb to the flattery of others.  Your two blanks are aligned in the same format as this first statement.  What is this man likely to do when people try to take advantage of him?  He is “inclined to succumb.” You cannot make a more precise prediction than one that uses the words in the sentence.  If you do not know what these words mean, check out the little word “to.”  Usually you listen “to” flattery (The opposite would be running “from” it, or rejecting it – if you use “to” you are going towards something), so this guy is going to be open to listening to anyone who tells him nice things.  He is “likely to be open to negative things.” Look down at your answer choices.

(A) immune . . predilection
(B) prejudicial . . intentions
(C) susceptible . . cajolery
(D) resistant . . blandishments
(E) amenable . . rejection

(A) The word “immune” is the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.  (B) The word “prejudicial” does not mean open to hearing things, but maybe this word is used to mean that he is prejudiced in favor of people who flatter him.  If you are not sure you can eliminate a choice, keep it.  (C) If you are susceptible to a disease, you are likely to catch it.  This word matches your prediction perfectly.  (D) This man is not resisting flattery!   This word is the opposite of what you need.  Eliminate it.  (E)  If you do not know this word, you should keep it as an option – this word matches your prediction perfectly.

Now turn your attention to the second blank.  This man’s problem is that he listens to flattery.  Flattery is usually given with some ulterior motive.  Therefore, this man is inclined to succumb to the flattery of people who want to take advantage to him.  Predict the word “flattery” and look down at your remaining answer choices.

(B) prejudicial . . intentions
(C) susceptible . . cajolery
(E) amenable . . rejection

(B) The word “intentions” is completely neutral.  “Intentions” does not mean “flattery.”  Eliminate it.  (C) This word comes from a French word.  Even if you do not know what it means, you can tell that it is a better choice than the next word.  (E) Rejecting a person is the opposite of flattering a person.  You have no idea how this man responds to rejection.  Eliminate this answer choice.

The correct answer is (C).

Words used in this SC:
Inclination: leaning towards or tending towards something
Succumb: yield, give in to
Immune: not subject to; protected from; not susceptible to
Predilection: an established preference for something
Prejudicial: exhibiting bias or causing harm or injury
Intentions: purposes or attitudes
Susceptible: likely to be affected by something, easily influenced
Cajolery: persuasion by flattery
Resistant: resisting, repelling
Blandishments: flattering speech designed to persuade
Amenable: open to influence or persuasion, ready to agree
Rejection: exclusion, denial, refusal


On sat.collegeboard.org, 63% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover up the answer choices and read the sentence carefully.  Focus on the easier of the two blanks, making a prediction to fill it.  Eliminate any answer choice that does not match your prediction.  Use the same process with the other blank.

The “double feature,” which featured two films for the price of one, became popular in the 1930s as a scheme to ------- former moviegoers who had begun to stay home since the ------- of the Depression at the beginning of the decade.

Start with the first blank.  You know that companies offer good deals in order to bring in more customers.  The sentence even tells you that there are specific people who need to be brought in to the movies: those who used to come all the time before the Depression.  Predict the answer “bring in” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) lure . . advent
(B) discourage . . end
(C) dissuade . . dawn
(D) perplex . . onset
(E) instigate . . devastation

(A)  Does “lure” mean “bring in”?  Well, when you use a fishing lure to catch a fish, you bring it into your net, or cooler, from its native waters.  This answer choice matches your prediction, so keep it.

(B)  This is the opposite of your prediction.  The moviegoers are already discouraged from going to the movies by the bad economy.  The “double feature” is intended to encourage them to go to the movies anyway.  “Discourage” does not mean “bring in.”  Eliminate this answer choice.

(C)  This word comes directly from Latin.  The root “dis” means “off,” “against,” or “away.”  The root “suad” means “urge,” just as it does in the word “persuade.”  Thus, “dissuade” means to urge someone away rather than to bring that person in.  Eliminate this answer choice.

(D) You know the word “complex.”  If something is complex, it will perplex people.  The Latin root “per” means “through” and the root “plex” means “plait” or “braid.”  Something complicated is going on in this word.  There is nothing complicated about offering two movies for the price of one.  “Perplex” does not mean “bring in,” so you can eliminate this answer choice.

(E) The word “instigate” has Greek origins.  The root “stig” means “prick,” as in to stimulate or incite someone to action by provocation.  The “double feature” is meant to goad people into coming back to the movies, so this answer might work even though it does not match your prediction as well as choice (A).  Keep it.

Now turn your attention toward the second blank.  Even if you do not remember from your history class that the stock market crashed in 1929, you should notice that the sentence emphasizes the “beginning of the decade.”  The word “begun” is also used in the sentence to describe when the people stopped coming to the movies.  Clearly the word “beginning” is important to the meaning of this sentence.  People didn’t gradually quit going to the movies, they stopped at the very beginning of the Depression, even though that might not have been the most miserable period of the Depression.  Predict the word “beginning” and look down at your remaining answer choices.

(A) lure . . advent
(E) instigate . . devastation

(A)  The Latin root “ad” means “in addition to,” but it also means “movement toward.”  For Christians, the Christmas holiday historically begins with something called the “Advent season” that ushers in a day of celebration.  The word “advent” indicates the coming of a certain period.  This choice matches your prediction.

(E)  Although the Depression was a time of devastation, the word “devastation” does not match the word “beginning.”  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (A).

Words used in this SC:
Lure: something that tempts or attracts
Advent: coming, or arrival
Dissuade: to convince someone not to do something
Perplex: to cause to feel puzzled or baffled
Onset: the start of something, or the start of an attack
Instigate: to urge forward
Devastation: destruction and desolation


On sat.collegeboard.org, 71% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT reading, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Current events may be used to distinguish the present from the past or link the present to the past.  You have all learned about the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, the one abolishing slavery.  Read this article explaining that the last state has finally ratified that amendment.  After all these years, is this an empty gesture or a meaningful conclusion?  Pay particular attention to the motivation of those behind the ratification and notice that they were not government employees.  How many common SAT themes can you spot in this current event?  Which details should you write down in order to use this current event effectively in an essay format?

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover up the answer choices and read the sentence carefully.  Select the blank that seems easier to you and focus on predicting a word for that blank.   Uncover your answer choices and eliminate any that do not match your prediction.  Use the same process with the other blank. 

Allison had only ------- knowledge of the recent legislation; although she had glanced at a summary, she had not ------- the details of the new law's many provisions.

Start with the first blank.  When you use the word “only,” you are generally trying to emphasize that the amount of something is small.  The idea that Allison did not have a lot of knowledge is also supported by the fact that she “glanced at a summary.”  Predict that she has “a little” knowledge and look down at your answer choices.

(A) superficial . . examined
(B) subjective . . studied
(C) sketchy . . vacated
(D) questionable . . endorsed
(E) cursory . . opposed

(A) A superficial observer only sees what is obvious.  Allison only took a glance.  The word “superficial” could mean “a little,” so keep it.  (B) The word “subjective” is the opposite of “objective.”  “Subjective” does not mean “a little,” so eliminate this choice.  (C) A sketch is quick and hasty, and so was Allison’s look at the summary.  “Sketchy” can mean “a little,” so keep this choice.  (D) “Questionable” does not usually mean “a little,” but the word could be used to emphasize that Alison does not know much about the legislation.  Keep it.  (E) The Latin root “curs” means “run.”  This word also implies haste, just as Alison’s glance did, so keep it.

Now look at the second blank.  It comes after the keyword “although.”  This word lets you know that there must be a contrast between the next two ideas.  If the first idea is that Allison only glanced at a summary, then the second idea would logically be that she carefully read all of the details.  Predict “carefully read” and look down at the remaining answer choices.

(A) superficial . . examined
(C) sketchy . . vacated
(D) questionable . . endorsed
(E) cursory . . opposed

(A) “Examined” matches your prediction perfectly.  Before you select it, check the other answer choices.  (C) The Latin root “vac” means empty, and you have probably heard of vacant houses before.  “Vacated” does not mean “carefully read,” so eliminate this choice.  (D)  You know that when celebrities endorse products, they recommend them to the public.  You do not care how Allison felt about the legislation; you just want to know that she read it carefully.  Eliminate this choice.  (E) “Opposed” does not mean “carefully read.”  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (A).

Words used in this SC:
Superficial: shallow, based on face value
Examined: observed or inspected critically, studied
Subjective: based on feeling rather than reasoning
Sketchy: rough or hasty
Vacated: left or moved out
Questionable: problematic, open to doubt
Endorsed: supported with approval or wrote on a check
Cursory: brief or broad, not cautious or detailed
Opposed: against something


On sat.collegeboard.org, 66% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Always cover your answer choices and use the sentence to predict a response to fill the blanks.  Match your prediction to the correct answer choice, eliminating any words that do not match.

His ------- prior experience notwithstanding, David was judged by the hiring manager to be ------- the job.

This sentence is a little harder to predict than some others, but you should always make a prediction so that you don’t get bogged down in the answer choices.  You don’t know whether David had experience and you don’t know whether he got the job, but you should immediately spot a keyword in the sentence.  “Notwithstanding” tells you that although David’s experience was one way, it was judged another way.  In other words, the two blanks will contrast one another: you will have one negative and one positive blank.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) illustrious . . entitled to
(B) limited . . qualified for
(C) applicable . . assured of
(D) useful . . overqualified for
(E) irrelevant . . perplexed by

(A) The word illustrious comes from the Latin “illustris,” which means “lighted” or “brilliant.”  Illustrious is a positive word.  It would also be a positive thing if a manager judged David to be entitled to a job.  This answer choice has two positives, but you predicted a negative and a positive.  Eliminate this choice.

(B) The idea of limited experience is negative.  However, qualifying for a job is a positive thing.  You found a positive and a negative.  Keep this answer choice and quickly check the remaining choices.

(C) Applicable experience would be good during a job search.  Being assured of a job is also good.  Eliminate this choice.

(D) Useful experience would be good during a job search.  Being overqualified for a job is bad if you don’t get hired.  At first glance this choice seems to fit your prediction; however, remember the keyword “notwithstanding.”  It is logical to say that a person with a lot of useful experience may be overqualified.  There is no contrast between these ideas.  Eliminate this answer choice.

(E) Irrelevant experience won’t help you; it is negative.  Being perplexed by a job is also a bad thing.  Eliminate this answer choice.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Notwithstanding: in spite of, nevertheless
Illustrious: famous, dignified, glorious
Entitled: has the right to something
Limited: confined, lacking
Qualified: meeting the standards for a position
Applicable: relevant
Assured: guaranteed, certain
Overqualified: has more than required
Irrelevant: not related
Perplexed: baffled, puzzled


On sat.collegeboard.org, 63% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

One of the released SAT essay prompts asks “Has today’s abundance of information only made it more difficult for us to understand the world around us?”  Before you answer this question, take a look at this current event.  This current event could be used to argue either yes or no, but think for a moment.  Have you ever heard this man’s name before?  Did you know any of the facts associated with the massacres of Guatemalan villagers?  If not, why not?  What other information have you absorbed instead? 

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover up your answer choices so that they do not distract you while you read the sentence carefully.  Predict a word to fill the blank that you find easier, and then eliminate any answer choices that do not match your prediction for that blank.  Use the same method with the other blank.  Remember to eliminate each wrong choice, even if one answer matches one of your predictions exactly. 

Lazarro's last movie polarized viewers: while many ------- the film for its artfully directed scenes, others ------- it for being inaccessible.

The key word in this sentence is “polarized” – a Knowsys word!  However, you can still find the correct answer if you do not know what the word “polarized” means.  Start with the first blank.  If people think that the film is “artfully directed” that is a very positive observation.  If no word comes to mind immediately, predict “a positive word” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) praised . . extolled
(B) disparaged . . blamed
(C) regarded . . commended
(D) admired . . endorsed
(E) lauded . . criticized

(A) “Praised” is positive.  Keep it.  (B) Another Knowsys vocabulary word!  “Disparaged” is negative; it is the opposite of what you want.  Eliminate this answer choice.  (C) The word “regarded” often just means “to look.”  This is a neutral word rather than a positive word.  However, if you start over thinking the sentence, it is easy to remember that to “give that person my regards” is to give them respect or show interest in them.  If you aren’t comfortable with eliminating this word yet, keep it.  (D) “Admired” is positive.  Keep it.  (E) Another Knowsys word!  Remember that the Latin root “laud” means praise.  Keep this choice.

Now look at the second blank.  If people say that the film is inaccessible, that means that it was difficult to understand or they couldn’t get into it.  That is a criticism.  Predict “a negative word” and look down at your remaining answer choices.

(A) praised . . extolled
(C) regarded . . commended
(D) admired . . endorsed
(E) lauded . . criticized

(A) Another Knowsys word!  Are you studying your Knowsys SAT vocabulary?  If so, you know that extol is positive and you can eliminate it.  If not, keep it.  (C) This word is related to the word “recommend.”  If a teacher commends you or recommends you for something, those are good things.  Eliminate this choice.  (D) If celebrities endorse a product, they recommend trying that product and say positive things about it.  Eliminate this choice.  (E) You know that the word “criticized” is negative.  Always go with what you know on the SAT rather than hazarding a guess on what you don’t know.

Note:  If you knew the word “polarized,” you could have simply looked for two words that are opposites in your answer choices.

The correct answer is (E).

Words used in this SC:
Polarized: Made something completely opposite, at two different extremes
Extolled: Praised highly
Disparaged: Criticized disrespectfully
Regarded: Looked at or paid attention to
Commended: To reward or praise
Endorsed: To support or give approval to someone or something
Lauded: Praised


On sat.collegeboard.org, 64% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover up your answers before reading the sentence carefully.  Make a prediction to fill one blank, the easier one, and eliminate any answer choice that does not match your prediction for that blank.  Do the same with the blank that is left.  Using this method, you will be able to eliminate answers even if you do not know one of the words in the answer choice.

Refuting the claim that the surest way to reduce anger is to express it, the author asserts that------- anger can actually increase its -------.

The key word in this sentence is “refuting” because the logic of the sentence hinges on this one word.  Don’t panic if you don’t know this word.  You also have the word “actually” to help you out. The word “actually” often corrects an incorrect notion.  For example, some people think that, but this is actually true.  Paraphrase the sentence so that it corrects an incorrect notion.  Some people claim the best way to reduce anger is to express it, but the author says that ------- anger can actually increase its -------.

Start with the second blank if it seems easier.  You set up a contrast between the first and second parts of the sentence.  The opposite of reducing anger would be increasing its strength.  Predict the word “strength,” or a similar word, and look down at your answer choices. 

(A) denying . . impact
(B) understanding . . importance
(C) overcoming . . likelihood
(D) venting . . intensity
(E) voicing . . benefits

(A) Impact can mean strength, so keep this choice.  (B)  Something doesn’t have to be strong to be important.  Eliminate this choice.  (C)  If you are already angry, the likelihood of being angry is already at one hundred percent!  You cannot increase its likelihood.  Eliminate this choice.  (D) Intensity can mean strength, so keep this choice.  (E) The sentence assumes that anger is bad, that it is something that people want to get rid of.  Benefits are good.  Eliminate this choice.

Now think again about your paraphrased version of the sentence.  Some people claim the best way to reduce anger is to express it, but the author says that ------- anger can actually increase its strength.  You set up a contrast, so some students might be tempted say that the opposite of expressing an emotion is hiding it.  But wait!  If people think they can reduce anger by expressing it, and the author says that hiding it can increase its strength, these two statements agree!  In order to set up a contrast, you need to set up statements that are truly opposite.  If people think expressing anger will reduce it, this author must say that expressing anger will increase it.  Predict the word “expressing” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) denying . . impact
(D) venting . . intensity

(A) Denying an emotion would be hiding it.  This is the opposite of what you are looking for.  (D) Venting is definitely expressing a strong emotion.  This matches your prediction.

The correct answer is (D).

Words used in this SC:
Refuting: disproving or rejecting
Asserts: declares strongly, states positively, affirms
Denying: not allowing or saying that something is not true
Impact: the force or influence of something
Venting: relieving oneself of pressure, usually through angry speech
Intensity: strength


On sat.collegeboard.org, 55% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover up your answer choices and carefully read the sentence.  Predict a word for the easier blank and eliminate any answer choices that do not match your prediction.  Then do the same with the other blank and the remaining answer choices.

When, in 1864, a factory established by Alfred Nobel to manufacture nitroglycerin blew up, the scientist discovered that the explosive was as ------- as it was powerful, ------- to detonate without warning.

Start with the blank that is easier for you, even if it is the second blank.  In this case the second blank is easy to predict if you take into account the information in the sentence.  If the explosive in the factory blows up the entire factory, it can detonate without warning.  Predict the word “able” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) dormant . . ready
(B) fickle . . unlikely
(C) volatile . . liable
(D) unprecedented . . intended
(E) inactive . . designed

(A)  Does “ready” mean “able?”  If someone is ready to something, that usually means that they are able to.  Hang onto this one if you are not sure that you can eliminate it.  (B)  “Unlikely” does not mean “able.”  You were just given an example of when something exploded, so it seems pretty likely that the explosive will blow up.  Eliminate this choice.  (C) The word “liable” has two meanings.  Most people know that it means “legally responsible.”  However, words can change meaning over centuries.  If you are liable for something, people can sue you if something bad happens connected with that liability.  It eventually became acceptable to use the word “liable” whenever something bad was likely to happen.  Ex: In an economic downturn people are liable to become stressed.  A factory blowing up is an unfavorable outcome, so keep this answer choice.  (D) The word “intended” has to do not with what actually happened, but what someone planned to happen.  Nobel did not plan for his own factory to blow up; he only discovered that it could.  Eliminate this choice.  (E)  “Designed” and “intended” can be used as synonyms.  No one designed this explosive to blow up the factory; Nobel just accidentally discovered that it could.  Eliminate this answer choice. 

Now turn your attention to the the first blank in the sentence.  Now that you have thought about the sentence while checking the other blank, you probably understand that Nobel was surprised by his discovery.  He did not know the explosive was so likely to blow up until his entire factory was gone.  It is okay to use a phrase as your prediction.  Predict that he discovered the explosive was “capable of exploding,” and look down at your remaining answer choices.

(A) dormant . . ready
(C) volatile . . liable

(A)  The Latin root “dorm” means “sleep.”  An explosive is active, not “sleepy” or “inactive.”  Eliminate this choice.  (C)  The Latin root “vol” means “fly.”  An explosion definitely sends things flying.  Think of a volcano that sends fire up into the air very suddenly.  Keep this choice.

The correct answer is (C).

Words used in this SC:
Detonate: to explode suddenly and violently
Dormant: inactive, as if asleep
Fickle: quick to change, not loyal
Volatile: explosive
Liable: likely to do something or susceptible to something, prone to
Unprecedented: never before seen or done
Intended: planned
Inactive: not functioning or passive
Designed: intended or planned


On sat.collegeboard.org, 60% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day:

Current events can be part of tradition or even mandated by the U.S. Constitution.  Read this article about President Obama’s inauguration, and think about how the present interacts with the past.  How and why do things change or stay the same?  Look for themes that are likely to show up in an SAT essay, and make note of interesting details and facts that could be used to support your opinions about these themes.

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover up your answer choices and devote all of your attention to reading the sentence carefully.  Choose the easier of the two blanks to examine first.  Predict a word to fill the blank, and then eliminate answer choices that do not match your prediction for that blank.  Repeat the same process with the second blank.

Ms. Fergusson’s main criticism of the artist’s rendering of the ancient mammal’s physical appearance is that, unsupported by even a ------- of fossil evidence, the image is bound to be -------.

If a sentence seems complicated, paraphrase it.   Ms. Fergusson is critical of a drawing because it is unsupported by even some kind of evidence so the image is something.  Focus on the second blank.  If the appearance of the rendering is unsupported, what kind of drawing will it be?  Unsupported!  Using a word from the sentence as your prediction can help you be more precise and save time.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) modicum . . speculative
(B) particle . . supplemented
(C) perusal . . substantiated
(D) fabrication . . obsolete
(E) recapitulation . . exhausted

(A) The word “speculative” has to do with “conjecture” or “abstract reasoning,” so it could mean “unsupported.”  Keep it.  (B)  A “supplement” is something additional.  The problem is that the artist may have just made up the image or added more than is backed by evidence.  If you are not sure about this word, keep it.  (C) The word “substantiated” is the opposite of “unsupported.”  Eliminate this answer choice.  (D)  The word “obsolete” should be connected to the word “old” in your mind.  That does not match your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.  (E)  The word “exhausted” should be connected to the word “tired” in your mind.  That does not match your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.

Now look at that first blank.  You know that there is not enough evidence about the appearance of this mammal.  Logically, you can deduce that there is only a little bit of evidence, if any.  Use “little bit” as your prediction, and look down at your remaining answer choices.

(A) modicum . . speculative
(B) particle . . supplemented

(A) Maybe you know the Latin root “modus” can mean “measure” or “size,” so you can discern that this word relates to the amount of something, whether it is a lot or a little.  Maybe you have heard someone say that a person needs “at least a modicum of common sense.”  If you aren’t sure about the meaning of the word, keep this answer choice.  (B)  This answer is meant to distract you because a particle is very small.  Read the sentence with this word in the blank.  How would anyone ever know that this mammal existed if there was not a particle of fossil evidence?  The word “supplement” means in addition to something else, but if there is not a particle of evidence, you cannot add to it.  This choice is illogical, so you must eliminate it.

The correct answer is (A).

Words used in this SC:
Modicum: a small or minimal amount
Speculative: based on guess or unfounded opinions
Particle: a tiny piece of matter
Supplemented: added to something
Perusal: reading or study
Substantiated: supported, proved, or established
Fabrication: something made up or a lie
Obsolete: no longer in use, outdated
Recapitulation: a review or summary
Exhausted: without energy or used up

Did you spot the two Knowsys vocabulary words in this question?


On sat.collegeboard.org, 55% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Have you caught the flu?  Have you had a flu shot?  Even something as mundane as the flu virus can make a great current event for your SAT essay.  Instead of focusing on your own experiences, take a broader look at the debate about flu vaccinations.  Read this article, looking for themes that are likely to show up on the SAT.  Be sure to scrutinize how the people in this article make the choices that they make.  If you choose to use this as one of your current event examples, memorize some specific details and facts so that your essay includes more than vague generalizations.  For those of you about to take the January SAT:  Take care of your health!  The SAT will seem much longer if you are sick! 

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover up your answer choices and read carefully so that you can predict a word to fill one of the blanks.  Make a prediction for the easier blank and eliminate the answer choices that do not match your prediction.  Do the same for the other blank.

Alvin is an exceedingly ------- person: he unselfishly ------- his friends without ever expecting anything in return.

Start with the blank that seems easier.  What would an unselfish person do for his friends?  Help them!  Use the word “helps” as your prediction, and look down at your answer choices.

(A) opportunistic . . supports
(B) noble . . undermines
(C) bemused . . aids
(D) caustic . . neglects
(E) altruistic . . assists

(A) "Supports" can mean "helps".  Keep this choice.  (B) Undermining someone is the opposite of helping them.  Eliminate this choice.  (C) "Aids" and "helps" are synonyms.  Keep this choice.  (D) Neglecting someone is not helping!  Eliminate this choice.  (E) "Assists" and "helps" are synonyms.  Keep this choice.

Now look back at the first blank.  Right after the blank, you read that Alvin is unselfish.  Predict that Alvin is an “unselfish” person, and look down at your remaining answer choices.

(A) opportunistic . . supports
(C) bemused . . aids
(E) altruistic . . assists

(A) Does "opportunistic" mean "unselfish?"  No.  People who are always looking for opportunities may just be looking for opportunities for themselves.  Eliminate this choice.  (C)  Don’t confuse the word “bemused” with the word “amused,” but they both refer to the way that one person feels.  You aren’t looking for a feeling word; you are looking for a word that means unselfish.  Eliminate this choice.  (E) This word comes from French: “autrui” means “to others.”  Altruistic people are concerned with others; they are unselfish.

The correct answer is (E).

Words used in this SC:
Opportunistic: taking advantage of situations (often selfishly)
Supports: helps or keeps from falling
Noble: honorable or aristocratic
Undermines: hinders or sabotages
Bemused: confused or preoccupied
Aids: helps
Caustic: burning, sharp or bitter (often refers to language)
Neglects: disregards, fails to care for
Altruistic: Unselfishly concerned for others (Knowsys word!)
Assists: helps


On sat.collegeboard.org, 72% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover up your answer choices until you have made a prediction about the words that must fill the blanks.  Use your prediction to eliminate all of the answer choices that are incorrect.

Since the explanations offered are ------- to the exposition, it would be unfair to treat them as ------- parts of the studies under consideration.

If you read a sentence and you have no idea what it is saying, try paraphrasing it:  Since the explanations are one thing, it would be unfair to treat them as another thing.  From this paraphrase, you can see that you are setting up a contrast.  The first blank must be the opposite of the second blank.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) tangential . . subsidiary
(B) irrelevant . . superfluous
(C) referable . . correspondent
(D) incidental . . essential
(E) crucial . . immutable

(A)   Tangential is a Knowsys vocabulary word.  You can also think of how this word is used in math: something that touches but does not cross into the center of a shape.  The other word, subsidiary, contains the Latin root “sub” which means below. These words are synonyms; both of them mean that something is not central to the main theme or is less important than it.  Eliminate this choice. 

(B)  The Latin root “ir” means not, so the first word is “not relevant.”  The second word contains “super,” meaning “over,” and “fluous” meaning “flowing.”  Both irrelevant and overflowing information is excessive or more than you need.   These words are synonyms, not antonyms.  Eliminate this choice. 

(C)  You know what it means to refer to something, and you know that “correspondent” refers to a relationship between two things that are the same in math.  Both of these things mean relating to another, so they are synonyms rather than opposites.  Eliminate this choice. 

(D)  An incident is something that just happens to happen or be mentioned, while something essential must be included.  These words are opposite, so they match your prediction.  Keep this answer choice. 

(E)  The word immutable includes the Latin root “mut,” meaning to change.  Something that is crucial might or might not be changeable, it is just important.  These words have no clear relation.  Eliminate this choice.
The correct answer is (D).

Words used in this SC:
Exposition: a written statement meant to explain something
Tangential: slightly related
Subsidiary: subordinate or secondary
Irrelevant: not applicable or pertinent
Superfluous: unnecessary or needless
Referable: relating to something
Correspondent: in agreement or conformity with something else
Incidental: loosely associated with something
Essential: necessary or of high importance, crucial
Crucial: essential, indispensable
Immutable: unchangeable


On sat.collegeboard.org, 45% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Are people still capable of original ideas that result in new discoveries?  Before you answer, take a look at this article about how scientists were able to lure a giant squid out of impenetrable depths in the ocean.  Which details might be relevant if you wanted to use this as a current event for an SAT essay?

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover up your answer choices until you have read the sentence carefully and predicted an answer for the easier blank.  Your prediction can be anything from a vague idea to an exact word.  Eliminate any answer choice that does not match the meaning of your prediction.  Then make a prediction for the other blank and eliminate any choice that does not match that prediction.

Understandably, it is the ------- among theater critics who become most incensed when producers insist on ------- celebrated classic plays.

This sentence may not seem to have a lot of meat on it the first time that you read it.  You will need to think clearly and logically to fill in the blanks correctly.  Focus on the second blank because there is more detail associated with it.  Paraphrase the words leading up to it and after it:  Some critics get angry when producers do something to celebrated classic plays.  You are looking for a word that could “understandably” make someone upset or offend them.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) strategists . . discussing
(B) mediators . . staging
(C) conformists . . praising
(D) traditionalists . . recognizing
(E) purists . . reinterpreting

(A)  Merely discussing something is not offensive.  Eliminate this choice.  (B)  The word staging is neutral, but maybe there is an objection that these plays are being staged instead of other kinds of plays.  Keep this choice until you can definitely eliminate it.  (C)  The plays are already described as “celebrated,” so you already know that they are often praised.  Praising something that is often praised is unlikely to offend people.  Eliminate this choice.  (D)  Again, a celebrated play is by definition recognized, and it does not make sense to take offense if someone recognizes it.  Eliminate this choice.  (E)  If something is celebrated as it is but someone comes along and changes it, people are likely to be offended.  Keep this choice.

Now look at the first blank.  You need a kind of person who would become upset.  Look down at your remaining answer choices.

(B) mediators . . staging
(E) purists . . reinterpreting

(B)  Mediators are in the middle, they are the ones who try to calm people at both ends of the spectrum down.  They are likely to be part of a solution to a disagreement, not the people who are upset.  Eliminate this choice.  (E)  Purists would have a definite opinion and refuse to compromise their beliefs. They would easily become upset if any aspect of a play was changed.  This matches your prediction.

The correct answer is (E).

Words used in this SC:
Incensed: 1) perfumed with incense or 2) enraged, inflamed with wrath
Celebrated: renowned, well-known
Strategists: experts in strategy, often in warfare
Mediators: negotiators between two parties seeking agreement
Staging: putting on a play
Conformists: people who don’t question group standards
Traditionalists: people who like the original or established way of doing something
Recognizing: 1) identifying or 2) acknowledging
Purists: people who insist on strict adherence to a belief or style
Reinterpreting: interpreting again, looking at something a new way, performing it a new way


On sat.collegeboard.org, 59% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 
                         
Cover the answers so that wrong answer choices do not mislead your thoughts as you carefully read the sentence.  Focus on one blank, the one that seems easier, and make a prediction for that blank.  Eliminate any answer that does not match your prediction.  Then use the same method for the second blank.

The architect wanted to ------- his own initial vision and design but recognized the importance of ------- requests from his client; in the end, he had to make several concessions.

Look at the second blank because there are more contextual clues to help you find this blank.  The last portion of the sentence tells you that the architect had to make concessions.  In order to make concessions, he first had to recognize the importance of conceding to requests from his clients, which means he accepted or approved them.  Use these words as your prediction and look down at your answer choices.

(A)   maintain . . accommodating
(B)   develop . . submitting
(C)   protect . . excluding
(D)   refuse . . incorporating
(E)    preserve . . disregarding

(A) The word accommodating shows that he was willing to make changes.  Keep it.  (B)  The architect does not submit requests; the client does. Eliminate this choice.  (C)  "Excluding" is the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate it.  (D)  If the architect incorporates his client’s requests, he accepts them and uses them to adapt his design.  Keep this option.   (E) "Disregarding" is the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate it.

Now return to that first blank.  It is separate from the second part of the sentence by the word “but,” a word that indicates a contrast.  If the architect eventually has to make concessions or changes, a contrast to this idea would be that he wants to keep his initial vision and design without changes.  Use the word “keep” as your prediction and look down at the remaining choices.

(A) maintain . . accommodating
(D) refuse . . incorporating

(A) The word “maintain” matches the word “keep.”  Keep this answer choice.  (D)  It doesn’t make sense for the architect to refuse his own ideas; he wants to refuse the ideas of his client.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (A).
                                                         
Words used in this SC:
Concessions: changes as a result of yielded privilege or power
Maintain: keep up, preserve
Accommodating:
Develop: change, progress
Submitting: yielding authority
Protect: keep safe, defend
Excluding: shutting out
Refuse: reject
Incorporating: including
Preserve: protect, maintain
Disregarding: ignoring


On sat.collegeboard.org, 77% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

SAT essay questions require you to think carefully about  a situation and take a stand.  Take a look at this current event that concerns the adoption of Russian children by American citizens.  What are the major issues at stake here?  How could this current event serve as an excellent example for SAT questions involving the relationship of the government to individuals, power, change, or the role of feelings in decision making?  All of these themes have been part of SAT questions before, so make sure to note the facts involved if this issue interests you.

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover the answer choices before you read the sentence so that you do not jump to an incorrect conclusion.  Read the sentence carefully and focus on the blank that seems easier.  Make a prediction for that blank, and then eliminate any answer choices that do not match that prediction.  Use the same process for the other blank. 

That the edelweiss appears to be ------- is an illusion: the flower actually is incredibly -------, able to survive in extreme temperatures.

The sentence defines the second blank after a comma.  You know that you are looking for a word that means “able to survive” in difficult circumstances.  If no word immediately comes to mind, use the words in the sentence as your prediction and look down at your answer choices.

(A) hardy . . malleable
(B) fragile . . resilient
(C) durable . . resistant
(D) stunning . . slight
(E) unique . . tenacious

(A)  Does malleable mean able to survive?  If you are not sure, keep this answer choice.  (B)  Resilient matches your prediction, so keep it.  (C) Resistant does not match even though it may seem to at first.  Resistant to what?  You would have to use the phrase “resistant to destruction” for this to match.  The single word alone does not express the meaning of your prediction, so eliminate this answer choice.  (D)  The word slight does not match your prediction.  Think of a slight difference.  That is not a very strong difference, so this word will not mean strong and able to survive.  Eliminate it.  (E)  The Latin root “ten” means hold.  Someone who is tenacious will hold on even in adverse circumstances.  This matches your prediction, so keep it. 

You are now ready to look at the first blank.  Paraphrase the sentence to make the logic clear to yourself:  “The flower appears one way, but it is actually able to survive.”  You need a word to contrast the second blank that meant “able to survive.”  Predict a word such as weak or frail and look down at the remaining answer choices.

(A) hardy . . malleable
(B) fragile . . resilient
(E) unique . . tenacious

(A) The word hardy is the opposite of weak, so eliminate this choice.  (B) Fragile matches your prediction.  (C) The word unique has nothing to do with the ability to survive.  It cannot contrast the ability to survive, and it does not mean weak.  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Hardy: having rugged physical strength
Malleable: able to be shaped, flexible
Fragile: easily broken or destroyed
Resilient: able to endure adversity
Durable: able to resist decay
Resistant: one who resists or counters
Stunning: shocking or exceptionally beautiful
Slight: small, weak, gentle, or insignificant
Unique: one of a kind, unparalleled
Tenacious: persistent, holding fast, tough


On sat.collegeboard.org, 74% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

Always start by covering up your answers so that wrong answer choices do not influence the way that you think about the sentence.  Then read the sentence carefully and use context clues to predict an answer for whichever blank seems easier.  Compare your prediction to the answer choices for that blank, eliminating any that do not match.  Use the same method for the other blank.  Choose your answer after you have eliminated all of the incorrect choices.

Sylvia's employer considered her advertising campaign to be ------- yet -------: Sylvia's ideas were new and creative but were not appropriate for the client's product.

This sentence provides you with a definition of each blank.  Notice that the two blanks are connected with a contrasting word: yet.  After the colon, the contrasting word “but” separates the two descriptions of the advertising campaign.  For parallelism, the first blank will match the first description: “new and creative.”  For the sake of time, use the words in the sentence as your prediction and look down at your answer choices.

(A) novel . . inapt
(B) irrelevant . . modest
(C) lengthy . . compelling
(D) fresh . . original
(E) marginal . . partial

(A) The word novel has two meanings.  It means “a book” when it is used as a noun, but when it is used as an adjective, it has a different meaning.  The Latin root “nov” means new.  This matches your prediction of “new and creative.”  Keep it.  (B)  Irrelevant does not mean new and creative; it often indicates the opposite.  Eliminate this choice.  (C)  Something can be long and and also be old and boring, or new and creative.  Since the word lengthy has nothing to do with your prediction, eliminate it.  (D)  The word “fresh” matches your prediction of “new.”  Keep it.  (E)  When you see the word “marginal,” you may think of the margins of a page.  This word will not mean “new and creative,” so eliminate it.

Now go back and look at the second blank.  It corresponds to the description “not appropriate.”  Use these words as your prediction and look down at your remaining answer choices.

(A) novel . . inapt
(D) fresh . . original

(A) The word “inapt” includes that Latin root “in” which can mean “not.”  “Not apt” matches your prediction.  (B)  The word “original” matches your prediction for the first blank (new and creative).  However, you need a contrast between the first and the second blank.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (A).

Words used in this SC:
Novel: new and original
Inapt: unsuitable
Irrelevant: unimportant, not related
Modest: humble or small in size
Lengthy: long and overextended
Compelling: requiring urgent attention or forceful
Fresh: newly made or obtained
Original: the initial work, or new and creative
Marginal: on the edge, almost insufficient
Partial: incomplete


On sat.collegeboard.org, 64% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day:

Are you able to memorize and analyze sports statistics even though other numbers leave your head in an instant?  You can use athletes and important events from the world of sports in your SAT essay as one excellent historical or current event example.  However, this example must be intellectual; be able to explain why the player or event is important and what kind of conclusions you can draw from this example in a wider context than sports.  Make sure you can draw out the themes of the example and then name specific statistics to back up your claims.  One current event that would make an excellent essay example is freshman Johnny Manziel's acceptance of the Heisman.  No freshman has ever won the award before.  Read more about this topic here.

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover your answer choices so that they do not prejudice your thoughts as you read the sentence carefully.  Then make a prediction for the easier blank and check it against the answer choices.  Eliminate any word that does not match your prediction.  Do the same for the other blank.  Always make sure to look at all the choices, even if one matches your prediction exactly.

Not wanting to come across as -------, the award-winning biologist ------- her many impressive accomplishments as she addressed the team of scientists.

Think about this sentence logically.  If someone has a lot of awards, how will others perceive that person?  Awards are a good thing unless someone becomes too proud and haughty.  Since the first blank has to do with what the award-winner does not want to be, predict the word “haughty” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) egotistical . . downplayed
(B) experienced . . explored
(C) celebrated . . highlighted
(D) arrogant . . evoked
(E) incompetent . . omitted

(A) Egotistical matches your prediction.  Keep it.  (B)  Experience is a good thing, people want to be seen as experienced.  It does not match your prediction, so eliminate it.  (C) Celebrated is a very positive word, but you are looking for a negative trait.  Eliminate it.  (D) Arrogant and haughty are synonyms.  Keep it.  (E) Incompetent is a negative thing, but you already know that the biologist is award-winning.  Her problem is not looking incompetent, it is looking too proud.

Look now at the second blank.  If this biologist does not want to be seen as too proud, is she going to enumerate or list out all of her accomplishments?  No!  She is going to avoid emphasizing them.  Predict a word such as “minimize” and look down at your remaining answer choices.

(A) egotistical . . downplayed
(D) arrogant . . evoked

(A) Downplayed matches your prediction.  (D) Evoked is the opposite of your prediction.

The correct answer is (A).

Words used in this SC:
Egotistical: vain, selfish, boastful, proud
Downplayed: reduced emphasis on
Arrogant: having excessive pride in oneself, conceited
Evoked: called up
Incompetent: unskilled
Omitted: left out


On sat.collegeboard.org, 67% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Never look at the answer choices before reading the sentence; they will only distract you.  Instead, read the sentence carefully.  If there are two blanks, focus on the easier one.  Make a prediction for that blank and eliminate any answer choice that does not match.  Then do the same with the remaining blank.

Budget cuts prompted the town's officials to cancel the annual parade, but the subsequent ------- from residents was so great that the event was -------.

Look at the first blank.  Parades are fun community events, so how would people react to hearing that one is canceled?  They would be disappointed or upset.  Predict a word such as “disappointed” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) amazement . . shortened
(B) support . . altered
(C) disapproval . . eradicated
(D) outcry . . reinstated
(E) negligence . . upgraded

(A) People are usually amazed at something good.  Your prediction is negative.  Eliminate this choice.  (B) This is the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.  (C) This matches your prediction.  Keep it.  (D) Disappointed or upset people raise an outcry, so this matches your prediction.  Keep it.  (E)  If you don’t know this word, think about whether it seems positive or negative.  It is a negative word, so keep it.

Now look at the second blank.  Officials try to keep people happy.  If people are disappointed that an event is canceled, officials are going to try to put it back on the calendar.  Predict a word such as “restored.”  If a single word does not come to mind, you can always just use “put back” as your prediction.  Look at your remaining answer choices.

(C) disapproval . . eradicated
(D) outcry . . reinstated
(E) negligence . . upgraded

Bottom of Form
(C) If you don’t know what this word means, keep it.  However, does eradicate have the same root as erase?  Hint:  it does.  (D) This matches your prediction.  Remember that the Latin prefix “re-“ means again, and the officials want to have the parade again.  (E) Can you upgrade something that does not exist?  No.  The parade was canceled, so this answer does not make sense.  Eliminate it.  If you want to guess an answer, pick what you know over what you do not know.

The correct answer is (D).

Words used in this SC:
Annual: happening every year
Subsequent: following
Altered: changed
Eradicated: eliminated, destroyed
Outcry: protest
Reinstated: restored, brought back
Negligence: not using appropriate care or attention


On sat.collegeboard.org, 73% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

For sentence completion questions, always cover the answers before reading the sentence.  Most of the answers are wrong, designed to throw you off track.  Read the sentence carefully and predict an answer to fill the blank that you find easier.  Eliminate any answer choices that do not match your prediction for that blank, then go back and use the same method with the other blank. 

The world, accustomed to ------- whenever governments change hands, expected rioting and bloodshed; but the transition of power was remarkably ------- .

Start with the second blank if it seems easier to you.  Rioting and bloodshed were expected, but then you have a transition word “but” indicating that a contrast is coming.  What is the opposite of rioting and bloodshed? Predict a word such as “peaceful,” and look down at the second part of each answer choice.

(A) turmoil . . chaotic
(B) harmony . . orderly
(C) ceremony . . solemn
(D) violence . . uneventful
(E) splendor . . unpopular

(A)  Chaotic is the opposite of peaceful.  Eliminate this choice.  (B) Orderly things are often peaceful, so keep this choice.  (C) Does solemn mean peaceful?  If you aren’t sure, keep this choice.  (D) Uneventful and peaceful can be synonyms, so keep this choice.  (E) Unpopular does not mean peaceful.  Eliminate this choice.

Now go back to that first blank.  The world is accustomed to something that causes it to expect rioting and bloodshed.  Those are both really negative things.  If a word connecting both of those things does not immediately come to mind, you can actually answer this problem just by predicting "something negative".  Look down at your remaining answer choices.

(B) harmony . . orderly
(C) ceremony . . solemn
(D) violence . . uneventful

(B) Harmony is a positive word, so you can eliminate this choice.  (C) Ceremonies are for any important event, from a birthday party to a funeral, so this word is neutral.  Eliminate this choice.  (D)  Violence is a negative word and it accurately describes rioting and bloodshed. 

The correct answer is (D).

Words used in this SC:
Turmoil: chaos, disorder
Chaotic: confused and disordered
Harmony: agreement
Orderly: neat or systematic
Ceremony: a ritual or gathering
Solemn: serious, somber
Violence: extreme force causing pain
Uneventful: monotonous, without problems or noteworthy events
Splendor: magnificence, grandeur
Unpopular: not favored


On sat.collegeboard.org, 75% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Although most people agree that taking care of the planet is important, individuals and businesses often disagree about the best use of resources.  Clean air also costs money as companies work to find ways to keep their carbon emissions low.  It has been incredibly difficult to motivate care for the environment through legislation, which is one reason that many states and nations are watching California's new plan.  Read about the plan here, and be sure to think about how the broad themes involved in this current event could relate to an SAT essay prompt.

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Cover your answer choices so that you can carefully read the sentence without any kind of bias.  When you see two blanks, select the blank that looks easier and focus on it first.  Make a prediction for that blank and eliminate any answer choices that do not match your prediction.  Then use the same process with the other blank.

While a “rock” is usually defined as ------- , or a combination, of one or more minerals, geologists often ------- the definition to include such materials as clay, loose sand, and certain limestones.

The first blank is a simple vocabulary question, so look at it first.  The word “or” signifies that an alternative is coming, so the words “a combination” is an alternative to whatever goes in the blank.  You can just use the words “a combination” as your prediction and look down at the options for the first blank.

(A) a conglomeration . . limit
(B) an aggregate . . extend
(C) an element . . eliminate
(D) a blend . . restrict
(E) a product . . provide

(A) If you know your Latin roots, you know that the prefix “con” often means “with” or “together.”  This word could be a combination of things, so keep this answer choice.  (B) Here are more Latin roots: “ag” and “greg.” The first prefix, “ag,” can mean “toward” or “in addition to,” while the second, “greg,” means “group.”  This word probably has to do with combining things.  Keep it.  (C) Think about elements in science.  They are as basic as they can be – they are not a combination of other things.  Eliminate this answer choice.  (D)  The word “blend” requires two things to come together, so it could work too.  (E)  The word product does not immediately bring to mind a combination of things, but in math the product of two numbers is a third.  Keep this answer choice if you are not sure that you can eliminate it.

Now look at the second blank.  This blank requires you to use some logic.  The first definition for the word “rock” was very specific, but now geologists are saying that other things can also be considered rocks.  They are stretching that definition or increasing it.  You might predict the word “broaden” before looking down at your remaining answer choices.

(A) a conglomeration . . limit
(B) an aggregate . . extend
(D) a blend . . restrict
(E) a product . . provide

(A) is the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate it.  (B) matches your prediction.  (D) is also the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate it.  (E) is not specific enough.  An original definition was already provided, what was important in the second blank is that it was changed to add more stuff.  This answer shows no evidence of any kind of change.  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Conglomeration: a cohering mass of different materials
Aggregate: a collection of things into one whole or total
Element: an essential part
Blend: a mixture of two or more things
Product: something created by a process
Extend: to expand or increase
Restrict: to limit or confine


On sat.collegeboard.org, 57% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT vocabulary, visit www.myknowsys.com!