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SAT Reading: Sentence Completion

Sentence Completions

Select the words that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

Despite last night’s -------, tonight’s performance was stellar, ------ the performer’s reputation as an excellent entertainer.

A. indulgence . . prompting
B. misconception . . providing
C. advancement . . undermining
D. debacle . . reinforcing
E. plot . . mandating

Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up the answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully, then predict what you think the answer should be.  In this case, we have two blanks. 

Let’s focus on the easier blank.  Despite last night’s ------, tonight’s performance was stellar.  Stellar means “like the stars” or brilliant.  So, last night’s performance had to be bad.  Let’s look for “huge disaster.” 

A. Is an indulgence a huge disaster?  No.  Eliminate it.  An indulgence is catering to a whim or desire and is positive.   

B.  Is a misconception a huge disaster?  No.  It’s negative (a misconception is a mistaken idea), but it is not a huge disaster.  Eliminate it.

C. Is an advancement a huge disaster?  No.  It’s the opposite.  So, eliminate it. 

D. Is a debacle a huge disaster?  Maybe you don’t know this term.  No problem.  Let’s just leave it and go to E.

E. Is a “plot” a huge disaster?  You’ve probably heard “plot” in your English class in relation to most things you read.  The term “plot” has several distinct meanings:  1) the storyline, 2) a secret (usually hostile, illegal, or evil) plan, 3) a small area of ground, and 4) a graphic representation of land, or a building, etc.  Bottom line:  a “plot” isn’t a huge disaster . . . although implementing one could create a huge disaster.  Eliminate. 

Only Choice D is left.  And, sure enough, a debacle is a huge disaster (a complete collapse or failure).  The 2nd blank works nicely too.  The stellar performance “reinforces” the entertainer’s reputation.

The correct answer is D.

Level:  Medium

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SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

Select the words that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

The uncooperative participants ------ the tour leader’s attempts to round them up and keep them on scheduling, resulting in the entire group missing the bus.

A. discharged
B. implemented
C. forfeited
D. thwarted
E. redoubled

Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up the answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully, then predict what you think the answer should be.  Since the participants caused the group to miss the bus, they must have hindered the leader’s efforts.  So, let’s predict “hindered.”

A. The verb “discharge” has several meanings:  1) to unload (e.g., to discharge the cargo), 2) to fire (e.g., to discharge a gun), 3) to emit (e.g., to discharge a substance), and 4) to get rid of something (e.g., to discharge a responsibility).  None of these mean “to hinder” so we will eliminate it.

B.  To “implement” is to put into action. Eliminate this choice. 

C. To “forfeit” is to lose or become liable to lose something as a result of a failure (you forfeit the right to go the mall with your friends when you fail to clean your room).  This doesn’t match our prediction.  Eliminate it.  

D. To “thwart” is to prevent something from happening; you can thwart a person, a plan, a purpose, etc.  This works!  Let’s check E quickly, and then we’re done.

E. To “redouble” is to double or make something twice as great.  The common phrase is to “redouble your efforts” by trying twice as hard.  Eliminate it.   

 

The correct answer is D.

Level:  Medium

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SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

Select the words that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

Even at the end of the long, arduous bike ride through the mountains, the young athlete looked and felt ------ and hearty; she eagerly anticipated the next day's ride. 

A. robust
B. facile
C. halting
D. corpulent
E. vexed

Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up the answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully, then predict what you think the answer should be.  Since the athlete felt hearty and ready to ride again, we need something like "healthy."  Let's use "healthy" for our prediction as we go through the choices.

A. Something robust is hearty and healthy.  This works, but let's check the other choices quickly. 

B.  Something "facile" is easy, which would be the opposite of the arduous (difficult) bike ride.  Eliminate this choice. 

C. Something "halting" starts and stops or moves in fits and spurts.  This doesn't match our prediction.  Eliminate it.  

D. Someone "corpulent" is overweight or "full of body" (from the root "corpus" = body).  This doesn't describe the hearty athlete.  Eliminate it. 

E. Someone "vexed" is annoyed or bothered, and that does not match our prediction.  Eliminate it.   

 

The correct answer is A.

Level:  Hard

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SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

Select the words that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

The young prince was known far and wide for his -------, the stubbornness and unyielding persistence that made him both a difficult student and an excellent warrior.  

A. presumptiveness
B. valor
C. impetuosity
D. hubris
E. obstinacy

Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up the answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully, then predict what you think the answer should be.  Since the prince was known for "stubbornness and unyielding persistence," let's use that for our prediction as we go through the choices.

A. Something presumptive is based on presumption or probability. not facts.  So, presumptiveness (the act of making a presumption or guess based on probability) does not fit our prediction.  Eliminate it.  

B.  "Valor" is bravery and courage, particularly in battle.  While it might be tempting because the prince is an excellent warrior, valor is not associated with stubbornness.  Eliminate it. 

C. Someone impetuous does things without thinking them through, on the spur of the moment.  "Impetuosity" is the noun form of the adjective "impetuous" and means the quality of being rash and impulsive.  Since this does not match our prediction, eliminate this choice.

D. "Hubris" is excessive pride (sometimes called "overweening pride").  It is arrogance to the extreme.  This does not match our prediction, so eliminate it. 

E. "Obstinacy" is exactly what we are looking for:  stubbornness and unyielding persistence.  The adjective form of this word is obstinate as in, "He is as obstinate as a mule!"  

 

The correct answer is E.

Level:  Hard

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SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

Select the words that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

Although my friend did not find the movie overly sentimental, I was shocked by how ------- it was; it actually brought tears to my eyes even though I never cry when watching movies. 

A. meticulous
B. prosaic
C. cursory
D. treacly
E. consecrated

Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up the answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully, then predict what you think the answer should be.  Since the writer found the movie "overly sentimental," let's use that for our prediction as we go through the choices.

A. The word "meticulous" means extremely careful and precise.  People are often said to pay meticulous attention to small details.  This choice does not match our prediction, so eliminate it and keep moving. 

B.  When you hear "prosaic" you should hear "prose."  This word comes from a time when the distinction between prose and poetry was essentially the difference between boring and workaday and flowery, romantic, and interesting.  Thus, when something is "prosaic" it is dull and straightforward rather than poetic.  This choice does not match our prediction, so eliminate it.

C. You might hear "cursory" and associate it with either cursing or the cursor on the computer monitor.  Cursory actually just means hasty.  Since this does not match our prediction, eliminate this choice.

D. "Treacly" means cloyingly sweet or sentimental and has two synonyms that are even more frequently tested on the SAT:  maudlin and mawkish.  This matches our prediction perfectly, but we should still check the rest of the choices.

E. To "consecrate" something is to make it holy or sacred.  Consecrate actually has the root word "secare" in it, which comes from the Latin sacrare, the source of "sacred."  This has nothing to do with sentimentality, so eliminate it.  

The only word here that you probably have never heard is "treacly," but by process of elimination you should have been able to say "treacly" has to be it because none of the others match the prediction.  

The correct answer is D.

Level:  hard

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SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

Select the words that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

Given his ------- chocolate desserts, we were all a little surprised when my father chose vanilla cake and ice cream for his birthday this year.

A. predilection for
B. resurgence of
C. deference to
D. decorum around
E. aversion to

Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up the answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully, then predict what you think the answer should be.  If the father's choice of vanilla cake and ice cream surprised his family, the father probably had an established preference for chocolate.  Using "established preference" as our prediction, let's go through the choices.

A. The word “predilection" comes from the Latin word "prediligere," meaning "to prefer before others."  A predilection is an established preference for something.  This matches our prediction perfectly, but we should still check the rest of the choices.

B.  “Resurgence" sounds a lot like what it means.  A resurgence is a revival.  Think: something is re- (again) surging (thriving, increasing, moving, etc.)  This choice does not match our prediction, so eliminate it.

C. "Deference" sounds like "preference," but don't be fooled!  It means something very different.  To show deference to someone is to show that person respect or esteem.  The father in the sentence probably likes chocolate, but it would make no sense for him to "respect" chocolate.  Eliminate this choice.

D. "Decorum" means "socially acceptable dignity or correctness of speech or behavior."  Here's an easy trick for remembering this definition.  If you are somewhere that is formally DECORated (like a ballroom, the White House, etc.), you should display a certain sense of DECORum.  This choice does not match our prediction, so eliminate it.

E. You can probably detect just from looking at this word that it has a negative connotation.  An "aversion" to something is a severe dislike of that thing.  This is the opposite of our prediction, so eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is A.

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary. Dan Harper. 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.

Words used in this SC:

predilection: an established preference for something
resurgence: a revival
deference: respect or esteem due to a superior of an elder
decorum: socially acceptable dignity or correctness of speech or behavior
aversion: dislike and opposition

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SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

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

After discovering a permanent marker in a kitchen drawer, my two-year-old nephew left ------- scribbles all over my sister's walls. 

A. indelible
B. fallacious
C. altruistic
D. inept
E. ambivalent

Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up the answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully, then predict what you think the answer should be.  A permanent marker would leave permanent marks on the walls, so use that as a prediction and check the answer choices.

A. The word “indelible” come from the Latin roots “in,” meaning “not or the opposite of,” and “delebilis,” meaning “able to be destroyed.”  Something indelible cannot be destroyed or removed.  This choice matches our prediction, so keep it.

B.  “Fallacious” means “deceptive or misleading.”  A useful trick for remembering the meaning of “fallacious” is to think about the word “false” which sounds similar and means something similar.   This does not match our prediction, so eliminate this choice.

C. "Debilitate" comes from the Latin "debilitare," meaning "to weaken."  To debilitate someone or something is to make that person or thing weak and potentially infirm.  This is the opposite of our prediction, so eliminate this choice.

D. An “altruistic” person is likely to donate money, do charity work, and share readily with others.  “Altruism” is “unselfish concern for others.”  This does not match our prediction, so eliminate this choice.

E. The word "ambivalent" was coined in 1910 by Swiss psychologist Eugen Bleuler.  As a psychological term, "ambivalent" means "having conflicting meanings," but it can also mean "having several possible meanings."  This does not match our prediction, so eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is A.

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary. Dan Harper. 2013. Web. 23 Jan. 2014.

Words used in this SC:

indelible: permanent
fallacious: deceptive or misleading
altruistic: unselfishly concerned about the welfare of others
inept: awkward or unskilled
ambivalent: having several possible meanings
 

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SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

Select the words that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

The defendant's story seemed highly -------, especially since she had no witnesses to ------- her alibi.

A. innocuous . . vindicate
B. auspicious . . substantiate
C. inept . . debilitate
D. reticent . . scrutinize
E. implausible . . corroborate

Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up the answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully, then predict what you think the answer should be.  In two-blank sentence completions like this one, start with the easier blank first, which, in this case, is the second one.  What would this defendant need a witness to do?  To confirm or support her alibi.  Using "confirm/support" as a prediction, let's look at the choices for the second blank.

A.  "Vindicate," like many SAT words, has a Latin origin.  It comes from "vindicare," which means "to set free, lay claim to, assert, or avenge."  Today, the word is no longer associated with laying claim or achieving revenge; it means "to clear of guilt or blame" or "to prove to be right."  The second meaning of vindicate matches somewhat with our prediction, so keep this choice for now.

B.  "Substantiate" is easy to remember because it sounds like "substance."  To substantiate something is to give substance to, to prove, or to establish that thing.  This matches fairly well with our prediction, so keep this choice for now.

C. "Debilitate" comes from the Latin "debilitare," meaning "to weaken."  To debilitate someone or something is to make that person or thing weak and potentially infirm.  This is the opposite of our prediction, so eliminate this choice.

D. "Scrutinize" means "to examine closely."  To help you remember this word, you could think of someone squinting their eyes to look at something very closely.  This choice does not match our prediction, so eliminate it.

E. "Corroborate" comes from the Latin "corroborare," meaning "to strengthen."  To corroborate something is to support it with evidence.  This matches fairly well with our prediction, so keep this choice for now.

Now look at the second blank.  If the defendant has no witnesses to confirm her alibi, then her story would be weak or difficult to believe.  Using this as a prediction, let's look at the remaining options for the second blank.

A. “Innocuous” comes from the Latin roots “in” (not) and “nocuus” (to harm) and means “harmless or inoffensive.”  This choice does not match our prediction, so eliminate it.

B. "Auspicious" sounds a little like "suspicious," but it means nearly the opposite.  Something auspicious is favorable or promising of success.  This choice does not match our prediction, so eliminate it.

E. The word "implausible" comes from the same Latin root (plaudere) as the word "applaud," though the two words have very different meanings today.  Something implausible is unlikely to be true or hard to believe.  (FYI, something plausible is reasonable or probable).  This choice matches our prediction, so E must be correct.

The correct answer is E.

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary. Dan Harper. 2013. Web. 13 Jan. 2014.

Words used in this SC:

innocuous: harmless
vindicate: to clear of guilt or blame
auspicious: favorable or promising success
substantiate: to give substance to, to prove, or to establish
inept: awkward or unskilled
debilitate: to diminish strength
reticent: quiet and reserved
scrutinize: to examine closely
implausible: 1) unlikely to be true or 2) hard to believe
corroborate: to support with evidence or authority

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SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

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

Sarah wished she had a calculator to ------- her math homework because solving each problem by hand was taking her a long time. 

A. mollify
B. expedite
C. circumvent
D. enumerate
E. bolster

Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up your answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully, and then predict what you think the answer should be.  If Sarah's math homework is taking her a long time, why might she want to use a calculator?  To speed up her work, probably.  Using "speed up" as a prediction, let's look at the answers. 

A. "Mollify" comes from the Latin word "mollificare," which means "to make soft."  To mollify someone is to calm or soothe that person.  This does not match our prediction, so eliminate this choice.

B. "Expedite" literally translates from Latin as "to free the feet from chains."  To expedite something is to make it faster or easier.  This matches our prediction, but we need to check the rest of the answer choices.

C. The word “circumvent" comes from the Latin term "circumventus," which is made up of two parts, "circum" (around), and "venire" (to come).  To circumvent something is to go around or avoid that thing.  Sarah wants to speed up her math homework, not avoid it, so eliminate this choice.

D. "Enumerate" means "to list out."  An easy way to remember the meaning of "enumerate" is to think about the fact that it looks a little like the word "number."  This does not match our prediction, so eliminate this choice.

E.  To bolster something it to encourage it or keep it raised.  For instance, an Academy Award nomination might bolster a film's ticket sales.  This does not match our prediction, so eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is B.

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary. Dan Harper. 2013. Web. 13 Jan. 2014.

Words used in this SC:

mollify: to calm or soothe
expedite: to speed up or make easier
circumvent: to avoid or go around
enumerate: to list out
bolster: 1) to encourage or 2) to keep raised

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SAT Reading: Sentence Completions

Sentence Completions

Select the words that best fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

Seeing the ------- bicycle, which was over 80 years old now, made the elderly man feel ------- for the carefree days of his youth. 

A. recalcitrant . . abstemious
B. precursory . . cynical
C. arcane . . somber
D. hackneyed . . tenacious
E. antiquated . . nostalgic

Knowsys Method

Always start by covering up your answer choices so that they do not distract you.  Read the sentence carefully, and then predict what you think the answer should be.  In two-blank sentence completions like this one, predict the easier blank first.  The first blank in this sentence is easier because there are more direct context clues, so we will start there.  If a bicycle is over 80 years old, what word would you use to describe that bicycle?  Probably "old," "rusted," "disused," something along those lines.  With those predictions in mind, let's look at the answer choices for the first blank.

A. "Recalcitrant" literally translates from French as "kicking back."  The word is typically used today to mean "stubbornly defiant or resistant of authority."  Think of a stubborn mule that does not want to go anywhere and kicks you when you try to make it move.  This word does not match our prediction, so eliminate this choice.

B. "Precursory" comes from the Latin "praecursor," which means "forerunner."  The word still means the same thing today; something "precursory" is something that comes before or leads to something else.  For instance, land line telephones were the precursors to cell phones.  This word somewhat matches our prediction, though not exactly.  We should keep this choice for now and check the second blank later.

C. The word “arcane” shares a common root with the word “ark” (perhaps best known from Biblical story of Noah’s Ark).  Both come from the Latin word “arca,” meaning “chest, box, or place for safekeeping.”  Something “arcane” is mysterious, secret, or known only to a few.  This choice does not match with our prediction, so eliminate it.

D. The word "hackneyed" has a complicated origin.  It comes from the Old English "Hacan ieg," or "Hook Island," an area of land that is a part of contemporary London.  Horses were once kept on Hook Island, so the term "hackney" came to refer to a horse that could be rented out for hire.  "Hackneyed" meant "kept for hire," but it eventually developed a new meaning, "unoriginal or trite."  This choice does not match our prediction, so eliminate it.

E.  Have you ever heard the word “antique?”  If so, you can probably guess what “antiquated” means.  Both terms come from the Latin word “antiquus,” meaning “ancient, former, or aged.”  Something antiquated is old and outdated.  This matches our prediction, so keep this choice.

Now, focus on the second blank.  This man is feeling (something) for the carefree days of his youth.  He is probably feeling a sense of longing for his youth.  Using that as our prediction, let's look at the remaining choices.

B. The word "cynical," which means "distrustful of human nature," refers back to a school of Greek philosophy, the Cynics, who believed that people must reject indulgent pleasures and luxury and live a simple life.  This choice does not match our prediction, so eliminate it.

E. "Nostalgia" means "homesickness or a wistful yearning for the past."  The term comes from the Greek words "nostos," or "homecoming," and "algia," or "distress."  This choice matches our prediction, so E must be the correct answer.

The correct answer is E.

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary. Dan Harper. 2013. Web. 13 Jan. 2014.

Words used in this SC:

recalcitrant: stubbornly defiant and resistant of authority
abstemious: not eating or drinking too much
precursory: preliminary, coming before something else
cynical: distrustful, especially of human nature
arcane: mysterious or understood by only a few
somber: gloomy and melancholy
hackneyed: unoriginal or trite
tenacious: persistent
antiquated: outdated or related to the past
nostalgic: 1) homesick or 2) feeling a wistful yearning for the past

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