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Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Today's question has to do with the environment.  Take a look at this article, which suggests ways to reduce food waste.  Do you agree that this is a significant problem?  Why or why not?  Do you see themes in this article that could help you link it to a broad SAT essay question?  What details would make you sound informed as you write about this issue?

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.  Make a prediction to fill the blank, then match that prediction to the correct answer choice.  Eliminate any answer choices that do not match your prediction.  Make sure you look at all of the answer choices before selecting one, even if the first choice seems to be correct.

Currently rising temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic are ------- of a still warmer world that could result from an excess of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the burning of oil, gas, and coal.

This is a sentence that is very carefully crafted in order to ensure that there is only one correct answer.  You must read carefully in order to make the correct choice.  When you see that the first word of the sentence is “currently,” you should realize that time will be important in this question.  The second part of the sentence that has to do with time reads, “a still warmer world that could result.”  Notice that this is something that may or may not happen in the future.  You need a word to show that the temperatures that are rising now indicate that future temperatures could also rise.  Predict a word such as “indicative,” “forerunners,” or “signs.”  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) polarities
(B) harbingers
(C) vestiges
(D) counterexamples
(E) aftereffects

(A)  This word is here to distract you.  Two different poles were mentioned in the sentence, the Arctic and Antarctic, but you are worried about the impact on the whole world.  Also, remember that if things are polar, they are usually opposite, but the same thing seems to be happening in both of these places.  Eliminate this choice.

(B)  In the 15th century a “herbengar” was someone who went ahead of a large group of travelers (such as an army or a king’s retinue) and made sure that they would be able to secure lodgings in the next town.  The modern word is very similar in meaning.  A “harbinger” is a forerunner, letting you know that something else is coming.  This matches your prediction exactly.  Keep this choice.

(C)  This word is also tricky.  You may have learned that a vestige is a trace or a sign.  At first that seems exactly like your prediction.  Think of a vestige as more like a footprint.  It tells you that something has already passed or happened.   You are looking for a word that indicates that something will happen in the future.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  The Arctic and the Antarctic cannot be counterexamples because the same thing is happening in both places.  Temperatures are rising in both places, and that may mean that temperatures will rise in other places.  The rising temperatures are consistent.  Furthermore, this does not match your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  This word, like option (C), points to something that has occurred in the past.  You are looking for a word that points to the future.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Polarities: two opposite or contrasting principles or tendencies
Harbingers: people or things that foreshadow or foretell the coming of another
Vestiges: traces or signs left by something that is no longer present
Counterexamples: exceptions to a proposed general rule
Aftereffects:  delayed effects that are not immediately manifested


On sat.collegeboard.org, 45% 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. 

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

When the SAT test makers write an essay question, they give you a little bit of information.  Generally, it does not take much thought to agree with whatever has been stated, or to simply use the exact same words in the prompt to frame your essay.  Really high scoring students know that the way the question is phrased may prompt students to answer one way when normally they might answer another way.  For example, read this SAT essay prompt:

“There is, of course, no legitimate branch of science that enables us to predict the future accurately.  Yet the degree of change in the world is so overwhelming and so promising, that the future, I believe, is far brighter than anyone has contemplated since the end of the Second World War.  Assignment: Is the world changing for the better?”

Now, you may really believe the world is changing for the better, but this prompt leads many students to answer yes without providing good reasons.  Maybe the world is fixing one problem while a new problem develops.  Maybe someone needs to point out that there have been many wars after World War II.  Before you answer a prompt, rephrase the question in your own words and be sure that you know what it is asking and whether the prompt itself is influencing your thought about the subject.  You want your essay to clearly demonstrate that you have a reason beyond the prompt to think the way that you do.

Leading questions occur outside the SAT too.  Check out this current event that shows that how people ask questions can change the results of polls about global warming.  If you want to use this as one of your five prepared current events, make notes about the broad themes in this article as well as specific details and facts that you can use to back up an opinion on 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 up your answer choices as you read the sentence carefully.  That way, incorrect answers will not distract you as you predict a word to fill the blank.  When you have your prediction, match it to the correct answer choice.  Eliminate any answer that does not match your prediction.  Make sure that you look at all of the answer choices before you select an answer.

Bolstered by his unflagging determination and ------- physical preparation, Tom Whittaker became the first amputee to successfully climb to the summit of Mount Everest.

Did you notice two Knowsys SAT words in the sentence?  Even if you do not know what “bolstered” and “unflagging” mean, you know that Whittaker was determined to climb the mountain and that he was successful.  In order to do that he, he must have trained hard.  Predict that his physical preparation was “persistent,” “diligent,” “steady,” or even “unflagging,” if you recognize the term.  Then look down at your answer choices.

(A) fortuitous
(B) assiduous
(C) heedless
(D) expeditious
(E) pedantic

(A)  Perhaps you know that the Latin root “fort” generally means strong and figure that Whittaker’s preparation made him stronger.  Or perhaps you link this word to the word “fortunate” and realize that this is a positive word. This answer choice is here to trick you.  The word “fortuitous” does not just mean “fortunate,” although many fortuitous occurrences are fortunate.  The word “fortuitous” is related to the idea of chance, of accidental luck.  There is no way that Whittaker accidentally practiced or that he got lucky and just ended up physically prepared – he worked hard.  Bottom line: this choice doesn’t really match your prediction.  Eliminate it.

(B)  Assiduous is a difficult word.  If you don’t know it, you cannot eliminate it.

(C)  If you heed something, you pay attention to it.  Being heedless would be the opposite of paying attention.  You know that Whittaker paid attention to physical preparation.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  Knowsys word!  If you don’t know the definition right away, think of expedited shipping.  That is when you pay extra to make sure a package gets somewhere quickly.  The idea here is not to prepare for the climb quickly, but to prepare for it in such a way as to be ready for the challenge.  “Expeditious” does not mean “diligent.”  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  This word is going to be really confusing if you assume that the Latin root “ped” means “foot.”  The same root can also mean “child.”  If you know that teachers have been called “pedagogues,” you will realize that this word also does not match your prediction.  “Pedantic” means acting like a teacher, especially in situations where no one wants a teacher.  Eliminate this choice.

You only have one answer remaining.  If you have eliminated all the other answer choices for specific reasons, then you can confidently select that answer, even if you do not know precisely what it means.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Bolstered: encouraged or supported
Unflagging: not declining in strength or vigor, tireless
Amputee: a person who has had a limb removed
Fortuitous: happening by a lucky chance, accidental
Assiduous: hard-working, diligent, or industrious
Heedless: unaware, not noticing something
Expeditious: fast, prompt, speedy
Pedantic: teaching or ostentatious in one’s learning, too concerned about formal details


On sat.collegeboard.org, 37% 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 so that you are not drawn to one before you have all the information you can glean from the sentence.  Read the sentence carefully and make a prediction to fill the blank.  Then match your prediction to the correct answer, eliminating any answer choice that does not match.  Be sure to look at all the answer choices before selecting an answer.

The jellyfish’s slow pulsing action propels it in a graceful, seemingly ------- drift, but its tentacles contain a poison potent enough to stun a swimming human.

This sentence requires you to use logic to find the answer.  If you are trying to save time by only reading part of the sentence, you will get this question wrong.   For example, if you only read up to the blank, you may select the answer “rhythmic” because grace and rhythm seem to go hand in hand, and the jellyfish has a pulsing action.  However, if you read a bit farther, you will come to the word “but.”  The word “but” sets up a contrast.  One thing about this jellyfish must be the opposite of what you would expect.  You can’t change the portion after the “but,” so you must contrast that portion of the sentence.  What is the opposite of being dangerous to humans?  Being safe – the jellyfish seems safe.  Predict the word “safe” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) sinister
(B) rhythmic
(C) murky
(D) harmless
(E) patient

(A) Does sinister mean safe?  No!  Even if you do not know the dictionary definition for sinister, you can probably identify it as a negative word.  Eliminate this choice.  (B)  The word “rhythmic” has nothing to do with “safe.”  Eliminate this choice.  (C)  This word comes from an Old Norse word, myrkr, which means “darkness.”  It does not mean safe.  Eliminate it.  (D) “Harmless” can mean “safe.”  This word matches exactly!  It seems as if the jellyfish will not harm people, but it is poisonous.  Keep this answer and quickly check the last choice.  (E) “Patient” does not mean “safe.”  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (D).

Words used in this SC:
Sinister: ominous or unlucky, seeming to be evil
Rhythmic: regularly recurring sound or movement
Murky: hard to see through, gloomy
Harmless: without the power or desire to injure
Patient: content to wait if necessary


On sat.collegeboard.org, 70% 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 up your answers as you read the sentence.  Choose the easier blank and predict an answer to fill that blank.  Eliminate any choice that does not match your prediction.  Then use the same process with the other blank.

Although the conference speakers disliked one another and might have been expected to -------, it turned out that on several substantive issues they were in complete ------- and were able to avoid petty squabbling.

This sentence give you many context clues.  Paraphrase it as you read it:  even though many people did not like each other, they avoided squabbling.  If people do not get along, especially speakers at an event, you can expect them to argue.  Predict the word “argue” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) argue . . disagreement
(B) bristle . . apathy
(C) debate . . dissonance
(D) concur . . denial
(E) bicker . . accord

(A)  This choice matches your prediction exactly.  However, you should always check all of the choices for synonyms of your prediction.  (B)  Bristle sounds like a negative word, and argue is also a negative word.  Keep this word if you are not sure you can eliminate it.  (C) Debate and argue sound similar, even though debate has a more positive connotation than argue.  If you are not sure you can eliminate a word, keep it.  (D)  The Latin root “con” means “with” or “together.”  The root “cur” means “run.”  If people are running together, they are in agreement instead of working against each other.  Eliminate this choice.  (E)  This word sounds negative, and your prediction was negative, so keep it.

Now turn your attention to the second blank.  Something kept these people from arguing.  These people must have found areas of agreement.  Predict the word “agreement” and look down at your remaining choices.

(A) argue . . disagreement
(B) bristle . . apathy
(C) debate . . dissonance
(E) bicker . . accord

(A)   “Disagreement” is the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.  (B)  Knowsys word!   If you are apathetic, it means that you do not care, not that you agree.  Eliminate this choice.  (C)  This word starts with the same Latin root as the word “disagreement.”  The root “dis” means “away” and the root “son” means “sound.”  You may recognize this word if you are a musician, but even if you are not, you can eliminate this word because it does not match your prediction.  (E)  At first glance, the word “accord” may not seem to match “agreement,” but think of the phrase “of one accord” or “in accordance with.”  These phrases are used when people come together and agree on something or with one another. 

The correct answer is (E).

Words used in this SC:
Substantive: essential or considerable
Petty: trifling, little, or inconsiderable
Squabbling: quarreling
Bristle: to react with fear or suspicion
Apathy: lack of interest
Dissonance: inharmonious, harsh sounds or disagreement
Concur: to agree
Bicker: to quarrel about petty things
Accord: agreement


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

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

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

The SAT question of the day is about Gordon Parks.  If you have not yet chosen your five literary examples (or historical examples) to prepare for your SAT essay, consider using Gordon Parks.  This man is celebrated for his writing, photography, and film making.  Read more about Gordon Parks here and think about what a rich example he would make for any SAT essay question involving creativity.

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 up the answer choices so that they do not distract you as you read the sentence carefully.  Use the context clues in the sentence to predict an answer to fill the blank.  Then match your prediction to the correct answer choice, eliminating any word that does not match your prediction in meaning.  Be sure to look at all of the answer choices before selecting one.

With the 1969 film The Learning Tree, Gordon Parks proved what a truly ------- artist he was: he not only directed the film and composed its musical score, but also adapted its screenplay from his own novel.

This sentence tells you that Gordon Parks was extremely involved in doing a lot of different types of work for his movie.  Predict that he was an “accomplished” artist or an “all-around” artist and look down at your answer choices.

(A) complacent
(B) protean
(C) lauded
(D) clairvoyant
(E) harried

(A) Knowsys word!  The word “complacent” means “self-satisfied” or “unconcerned.”  While Gordon Parks may have good reason to be “self-satisfied” after so much work, doing a lot of work does not prove that one is self-satisfied.  This answer choice does not match your prediction.  Eliminate it.

(B) You may know that the Greek root “prot” means first.  You may also know that Proteus was a sea god who could change his form.  From these clues you can discern that protean means “like Proteus” in the ability to work with many forms, just as Gordon Parks works with many forms of art.  If you have no idea what this word means, keep it.  You can still find out the correct answer through the process of elimination.

(C) Knowsys word!  Remember that the word “lauded” is related to the word “applauded.”  The Latin root “laud” means “praise.”  If you check the logic of the sentence, you will see that finishing a movie, no matter how wonderful, will not prove that a person is praised.  This choice does not match your prediction.  Eliminate it.

(D)  This word comes from both Latin and French.  The Latin root “clar” means “clear” and the root “voyant” means “seeing, ”and is related to the French verb “voir.”  Making a movie does not prove that one sees clearly.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This word comes from an Old English word that is related to an Old Norse word.  Does it sound negative to you?  Think about the word harassed.  You are not looking for a negative word.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Complacent: self-satisfied or unconcerned
Protean: exceedingly variable, assuming different shapes or forms
Lauded: praised
Clairvoyant: able to see things not perceived by normal senses, such as the future
Harried: harassed, rushed, panicked or devastated


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

For more help with SAT math, 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 focus on reading the sentence carefully.  Then make a prediction to fill the blank and match your prediction to the correct answer choice, eliminating choices that do not match.  Remember to look at all the choices before selecting your answer.

The dramatist was ------- over his lack of funds and his inability to sell any of his plays, and his letters to his wife reflected his unhappiness.

You need to fill a blank describing the dramatist.  The end of the sentence tells you that his letters showed his unhappiness.  Predict that the dramatist was “unhappy.”

(A) despondent
(B) supercilious
(C) prudent
(D) encouraged
(E) fortified

(A) The Latin root “de” can mean “down.”  Think of the word “despair.”  Feeling down or despairing would match your prediction perfectly.  Keep this choice.  (B)  Knowsys SAT word!  The Latin root “super” means “above.”  If someone thinks he is above others, he is proud and haughty.  Eliminate this choice because it does not match your prediction.  (C)  Knowsys SAT word!  Prudent people make decisions cautiously, but you are looking for an emotion, not evaluating this person’s judgment.  Eliminate this choice.  (D)  This is the opposite of your choice!  Eliminate it.  (E)  Vitamins fortify your body, so “fortify” is probably a positive word.  You are looking for a negative term.  Eliminate this choice.

Words used in this SC:
Despondent: in low spirits, disheartened, dejected
Supercilious: excessively proud and arrogant
Prudent: very careful or showing judgment and wisdom
Encouraged: inspired, heartened, reassured
Fortified: strengthened or encouraged


On sat.collegeboard.org, 76% 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. 

Completely ignore the answer choices, and read the sentence carefully.  Choose one blank, the easier one, and make a prediction.  Then eliminate any answer choices that do not match the meaning of your prediction.  Use the same process with the other blank, making sure to look at all of your remaining choices before selecting one.

Often inattentive when it comes to schoolwork, Maya was uncharacteristically ------- when she wrote her personal essay; rather than taking her typical ------- approach, she paid extremely close attention to every last detail.

Start with the first blank.  Maya is often inattentive.  If she is acting uncharacteristically, then she must be the opposite of inattentive.  Predict the word “attentive” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) thorough . . cautious
(B) painstaking . . precise
(C) inconsiderate . . thoughtful
(D) nonchalant . . efficient
(E) meticulous . . careless

(A)  Someone who does something thoroughly is being attentive.  Keep it.  (B)  If you take pains to do something, you definitely care about it.  Keep this choice.  (C)  To consider something is to think about it, so “inconsiderate” is the opposite of your prediction “attentive.”  Eliminate this choice.  (D) Knowsys word!  “Nonchalant” comes from Latin and essentially means “not hot.”  If you are cool towards something, you are indifferent about it.  “Indifferent” is the opposite of “attentive.”  Eliminate this choice.  (E)  Knowsys word!  Meticulous people care about detail, and showing care for details is being attentive.  Keep this word.  You've eliminated choices C and D. 

Turn your attention to the second blank.  You know that Maya is “often inattentive,” so what would her normal approach to something look like?  It would be “inattentive.”  Predict the word “inattentive” and look down at your remaining answer choices.

(A) thorough . . cautious
(B) painstaking . . precise
(E) meticulous . . careless

(A)  The word “cautious” does not mean inattentive.  If you are cautious, you are warily checking your surroundings for danger.  Eliminate this choice.  (B)  The word “precise” does not mean inattentive.  Eliminate it.  (E)  The word “careless” matches your prediction of “inattentive.”

Note: this sentence has many context clues; you can also find the answer by focusing on the clue that Maya “paid extremely close attention to every last detail” on this specific essay, which was out of character for her.

The correct answer is (E).

Words used in this SC:
Thorough: painstaking and careful not to miss any detail
Cautious: watchful and prudent
Painstaking: carefully attentive to details
Precise: exact, accurate
Inconsiderate: thoughtless, without care for others
Thoughtful: showing care and consideration
Nonchalant: indifferently cool, unconcerned
Efficient: performing in the best manner, without wasting time or effort
Meticulous: very careful and attentive to small details
Careless: without care or concern


On sat.collegeboard.org, 76% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Have you ever seen the movie Jaws?  Is anyone on the shark’s side?  Take a look at this current event and think about how you could use this example for an SAT essay asking, “Is there always another explanation or another point of view?”  Look for themes and facts about sharks that could be used to substantiate an opinion on a variety of issues.  Consider the question, “Should people let their feelings guide them when they make important decisions?”  Maybe you don’t feel like petting a shark, but you can understand why some people want to protect them.

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 answers and read the sentence carefully.  You will be able to use context clues to predict a word to fill the blank.  Then you can match your prediction to the correct answer and eliminate any words that do not match.  Be sure to look at all of the answer choices before selecting your answer.

To some scholars of medieval Britain, the legendary King Arthur is a genuine historical figure, while to others he and his Round Table are nothing more than ------- of myth and romance.

This sentence sets up a contrast; some scholars think one way, while others think another way.  The first set of scholars thinks that King Arthur is genuine.  The word genuine means real, so the second group of scholars must think that he is not real, or that he was imagined.   The word “myth” confirms that the second group does not believe Arthur and his Round Table are real.  Predict a word such as “fictions” or “inventions” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) harbingers
(B) trifles
(C) spoilers
(D) figments
(E) inventors

(A) If you know the verb “harbor,” as in harbor a fugitive, you may be able to deduce the meaning of this word.  Those who harbor fugitives give shelter to people running from the law.  This word is related to a word used in the fifteenth century for people who were sent ahead to arrange shelter for important travelers.  Over time the meaning has broadened to mean anything foreshadowing a future event.  The stories of King Arthur are in the past, not the future, and this word does not match your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.

(B)  Trifles are not very important, but this contrast has nothing to do with importance.  The word “trifle” does not mean “fiction,” so eliminate this choice.

(C)  Even if you do not know what the word “spoilers” means, it probably sounds negative to you.  Your prediction was not negative, and there is nothing that indicates that myths and romances are perceived negatively in this sentence.  Eliminate this choice.

(D) You have probably heard someone say the words “a figment of your imagination.”  If figments are imaginary things, that matches your prediction exactly.  Keep this choice and quickly look at the last answer choice.

(E)  Inventors may produce inventions, or even something fictional, but they are not themselves made-up or imaginary.  Eliminate this answer choice.

The correct answer is (D).

Words used in this SC:
Harbingers: people or events that foreshadow or announce the coming of something
Trifles: things of very little value
Spoilers: people who rob others or things that spoil something
Figments: fabrications or fantasies, imagined things
Inventors: people who create new things


On sat.collegeboard.org, 68% 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

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 the answer choices before reading the sentence because most of them are incorrect and intended to distract you from the correct answer.  Read the sentence carefully and predict a word to fill the blank.  Then match your prediction to the correct answer, eliminating any choices that do not match.  Be sure to look at all the answer choices before selecting your answer.

A group of Black American fighter pilots known as the Red Tail Angels has the ------- of never having lost any of the bombers it escorted on missions over Europe in the Second World War.

Paraphrase the sentence as you read it.  These fighters never lost any bombers on their missions.  This statement sounds pretty impressive; it sounds as if these fighters deserve recognition for their perfect record.  Predict the word “honor” or “credit” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) onus
(B) distinction
(C) imperative
(D) potential
(E) assignment

(A) If you have been studying your Knowsys vocabulary, you know a word related to this one: onerous.  The Latin root “oner” means burden.  Though these pilots were given a burdensome task, your prediction was positive to describe how well they completed their task.  “Onus” does not mean “honor.”  Eliminate it.

(B) You probably associate “dist” with distance.  In this case, think of it as “set apart.”  This word has changed slightly in meaning over the ages.  By the 1690s it came to mean “distinguished from others” or “excellent.”  If you say that an individual “served with distinction,” you are complementing that person and giving that individual credit.  This matches your prediction.

(C) The word “imperative” may be linked to the word “important” in your mind.  It may have been important for these fighters to protect the bombers on their missions, but the word “important” does not mean “honor.”  Eliminate this choice.

(D) Are you told you have the potential to do great things?  Potential is generally used for the future.  World War II is in the past.  You cannot say the group of fighters “has the potential” to do something that they have already done.  “Potential” has more to do with “a chance for honor” than “honor.”  Eliminate it.

(E) This answer also does not make sense chronologically.  You cannot say that the group of fighters “has the assignment” for World War II when World War II ended long ago.  They may have had the assignment, but just because you complete an assignment does not mean that you get honor or credit for doing a good job.  “Assignment” does not mean “honor.”  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Onus: burden of proof or obligation
Distinction: condition of being different or strong praise
Imperative: a command or a necessity
Potential: capacity to improve or possibility
Assignment: task or duty


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

For more help with SAT vocabulary, 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. 

Cover up your answer choices and predict a word to fill the blank.  Then match your prediction to the correct answer choice, eliminating any word that does not match.  Be sure to check all of the choices before you select your answer.

The ------- of Queen Elizabeth I impressed her contemporaries: she seemed to know what dignitaries and foreign leaders were thinking.

This is a straightforward vocabulary question; the definition of the word that belongs in the blank comes right after the colon.  If the Queen always knows what others are thinking, she must have “discernment” or “understanding” and a lot of “insight.”  Predict one of these words, or one of their synonyms, and look down at your answer choices.

(A) symbiosis
(B) malevolence
(C) punctiliousness
(D) consternation
(E) perspicacity

(A)  The root “sym” is a Greek root meaning “with” or “together.”  “Bio” means “life.”  You have probably run across the word “symbiotic” in your science classes.  Symbiotic relationships are mutually beneficial, so this is a tempting choice.  However, notice that the Queen is set apart from her contemporaries; she impresses them.  She is not going to be interdependent on someone else.  She depends on her own discernment, and you do not know whether other leaders can also find out what she is thinking.  Does “symbiosis” mean “understanding”?  No.  Eliminate it.

(B)  This word is easy to eliminate.  The Latin root “mal” means “bad.”  If you know this, or even if you speak Spanish, you can quickly identify this as a negative word.  You are looking for a positive attribute of the Queen that would impress others – your prediction was positive.  

(C)  This word will not be intimidating when you remember that you know the related word “punctual.”  If you are careful to be precise or arrive on time that may be a good quality, but it certainly does not mean “understanding.”  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  The root “con” can be difficult for students because it has several meanings, but in this case the “con” is related to the word “confusion.”  This is a negative word.  Eliminate it.

(E)  This is probably another word that you have never used, but it is related to one we use all the time: perspective.  “Per” means “through” while “spec” means “look.”  Is the Queen able to see though others?  Yes!  She can understand the thoughts behind their words and actions.  “Perspicacity” matches “understanding.”

The correct answer is (E).

Words used in this SC:
Symbiosis: a relationship of mutual benefit
Malevolence: hostile attitude or feeling
Punctiliousness: paying strict attention to detail
Consternation: amazement or terror so strong that a response is impossible
Perspicacity: acute discernment or understanding


On sat.collegeboard.org, 56% 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

If you are looking for a historical figure to use as an example for your SAT essay, you don’t have to pick your teacher’s favorite person.  Instead, pick someone who interests you.  Today’s SAT question is about Joe Louis.  This professional boxer would make an excellent historical example because he is not overused by students, and he has an interesting story involving a rise from poverty, an obsession with revenge, and a chance to challenge Hitler’s ideas about racial superiority.  Read more about Louis here, and be sure to write out relevant facts about his life if you chose to use him as one of your five prepared historical examples.

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 before you read the sentence so that incorrect answers will not distract you from logical thought.  Read the sentence carefully, using context clues to make a prediction to fill the blank.  Then match your prediction to the correct answer, eliminating any answer choice that is not synonymous with your prediction.  Make sure to examine all of the choices before selecting your answer, even if you find a match in choice A or B.

Joe Louis was ------- fighter: he inspired fear in many of his opponents.

This sentence defines the word that belongs in the blank; just look after the colon.  Colons indicate that an explanation or restatement of the first part of the sentence is coming next.  You could predict that Louis was “a fear-inspiring” fighter or simply that he was “a frightening” fighter.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) a serene
(B) an impetuous
(C) an insipid
(D) a malleable
(E) a redoubtable

(A) If you have ever heard the word “serene” used to describe an idyllic and peaceful space, “a serene fighter” should sound contradictory.  It certainly does not match your prediction.  Eliminate this choice.

(B) This is a Knowsys vocabulary word and an attempt by the test makers to trick you.  Impetuous people may be likely to get in fights, so the two words may be easily linked in your mind.  However, the word “impetuous” does not mean “frightening.”  Eliminate it.

(C)  You might not be familiar with this word, but it is easy enough to remember.  The Latin root “in” can mean “not.”  Then comes “sip.”  If you don’t want to sip something, it is probably tasteless.  This has nothing to do with “frightening.”  Eliminate it.

(D)  The mind of a child is malleable.  If a word can be linked to a child, it is probably not too frightening.  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  This word is not an easy word to dissect.  It looks as if means “again” “distrust.”  However, there is an archaic use of the word “doubt” that also means “fear.”  The word comes from an Old French word, “redoubter,” which means “to dread.”  A person would dread or be afraid of an encounter with a redoubtable fighter, so this choice matches your prediction exactly.

The correct answer is (E).

Words used in this SC:
Serene: peaceful, calm
Impetuous: rash, hasty, or spontaneous - hotheaded
Insipid: flavorless, bland, or lacking character
Malleable: capable of being shaped
Redoubtable: eliciting respect or fear


On sat.collegeboard.org, 33% 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

Link of the Day

Happy birthday to Rosa Parks who would have been 100 today.  Was she someone who happened to be in the wrong place at the right time, or an activist dedicated to  changing the world?  Find out 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 up the answer choices so that you will not be prejudiced by wrong answer choices as you read the sentence carefully.  Then make a prediction to fill the blank and compare it with the answer choices.  Eliminate any choices that do not match.  Be sure to look at all of the answer choices, even if you think that one answer matches perfectly.

Troy was ------- when he wasn’t elected class president: his spirits were so low that there was nothing we could say or do to cheer him up.

This sentence tells you exactly what belongs in the blank.  You know that Troy’s spirits were low and he could not be cheered up.  Predict the word that this information suggests to you; any word like “depressed” or “unhappy” will work.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) unctuous
(B) disconsolate
(C) ebullient
(D) inscrutable
(E) tenacious

(A) You may not know the word “unctuous,” but you can probably see that it is a negative word.  Keep any word that you do not have a specific reason to eliminate.

(B) Break down this word.  The Latin root “dis” means “away.”  That leaves “consolate,” and you know that to console someone is to make them feel better.  If a person is away from or beyond feeling better, that person is definitely unhappy.  This matches your prediction; since you should generally pick what you know on the SAT rather than what you do not know, it might be the answer you pick.  However, before you select this choice, you should quickly check the other words.

(C) This is a Knowsys vocabulary word!  It comes from a Latin verb meaning to boil over: the “e” comes from “ex” and the “bullire” comes from the Latin “to bubble.”  If you are ebullient, you are so lively and enthusiastic that you cannot contain yourself.  This is the opposite of your prediction!  Eliminate it.

(D) The Latin root “in” can mean “not” while “scrut” is the same root that appears in your Knowsys vocabulary word “scrutinize.”  To scrutinize something is to examine it closely.  If you cannot scrutinize or understand something, it is mysterious, which has nothing to do with your prediction.  Eliminate it.

(E) The Latin root “ten” means “hold.”  If you are tenacious, you intentionally hold fast to something.  That sounds more like the word “determined” than the word “depressed.”  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Unctuous: having oily characteristics or excessively pious, even smug
Disconsolate: beyond consolation, downcast, cheerless
Ebullient: lively and enthusiastic
Inscrutable: difficult or impossible to comprehend
Tenacious: unyielding, stubborn, determined


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. 

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!