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Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The correct answer is (D).

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


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

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

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

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

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. 

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

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

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. 

Start by covering up the answer choices and reading the sentence carefully.  Use context clues to predict a word to fill the blank.  Once you have a prediction, uncover the answer choice and find the word that matches your prediction in meaning.  Eliminate any word that does not match.  Make sure to check all of the possibilities even if one of the first choices seems to match exactly.

Although the scientist claimed to have made a major breakthrough in his research, the evidence he offered as proof of his assertion was ------- at best.

This question tests your ability to think logically as well as your vocabulary.  The word “although” tells you that there must be a contrast between the first portion of the sentence and the second.  That means you need something that contrasts with the claim that a scientist made a major breakthrough.  The next portion of the sentence has to do with evidence.  What kind of evidence would not support the claim of a major breakthrough?  We know the scientist offered some evidence, but it was not enough or not sufficient.  Predict the words “very little” or the word “scanty.”  Any prediction along these lines will work as you examine your answer choices.

(A) conclusive
(B) indubitable
(C) paltry
(D) copious
(E) extensive

(A) Does “conclusive” mean “very little?”  No. If the evidence was conclusive, it would support the scientist’s claim.  You are looking for something that does not support it. Eliminate this choice. 

(B) This word is here to trick even those of you who know your Latin roots.  The Latin root “in” can either mean “in” or “not.”  The Latin root “dub” means “doubtful.”  So this word could mean “in doubt” or “not doubtful,” which is either what you are looking for or not what you are looking for in order to create a contrast with a definite claim.  Before you get caught up in an internal debate, ask yourself does either of these words mean “very little?”  No.  Eliminate this choice.

(C) You may not know this word, but it should sound negative to you.  Etymologists haven’t quite determined where this word came from first, but it relates to nouns in German and other languages that mean “trash” or “rag.”  After the 1550s, the word has shifted slightly in meaning to “worthless” or “insignificant.”  Keep this word if you aren’t sure whether it means “very little.”

(D) The word “copious” is the opposite of what you need.  It comes from the Latin root “copia,” which means “abundant.”  Think of the related word “cornucopia” that you should associate with the harvest.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) Think of the related word “extend.”  When you extend your arms, you reach out as far as you can.  The word “extensive” means “far-reaching.”  This is the opposite of what you need, so eliminate this choice. 

The correct answer is (C).

Words used in this SC:
Conclusive: decisive
Indubitable: clearly true, having no possibility of doubt
Paltry: meager, of little value
Copious: great in quantity or number
Extensive: widespread


On sat.collegeboard.org, 52% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

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

Cover your answers so that you can focus on reading the question carefully and predict an answer to fill the blank.  Once you have a prediction, you can easily eliminate answer choices that do not match your prediction in meaning.  Be sure to look at all 5 answer choices, even if the first answer that you see seems to match exactly.

Because he was ------- in the face of danger, the explorer won the government’s highest award for conspicuous bravery.

This sentence is great because it gives you a word to fill the blank.  Someone who is given an award for bravery will be “brave” in the face of danger.  Sentences that use simple vocabulary and seem to give away the answer like this will often have more difficult vocabulary in the answer choices.  Look at each word separately and don’t confuse yourself by bouncing back and forth between answers.

(A) virile
(B) heedless
(C) dauntless
(D) callow
(E) timorous

(A)  Does virile mean brave?  In Latin the prefix “vir” means man, so this answer is supposed to distract you if you associate manliness with bravery.  Think about it this way: is a man necessarily brave? No.  Eliminate this choice.  (B)  You may be more familiar with the word “heed” than the word “heedless,” as in “heed my warning.”  Someone who is heedless would not heed a warning, which sounds more foolish than brave.  Eliminate this choice.  (C)  The related word “daunting” can give you a clue to this word’s meaning.   A daunting task is frightening and intimidating.  If someone is dauntless, they would be the opposite: brave and inspiring.  This choice matches perfectly.  Keep it and quickly check the other choices.  (D) Even if you do not know the word “callow,” you can probably tell that this is not a positive word.  “Brave” is a very positive prediction, so you can eliminate this choice.  (E) The Latin root “tim” means to be afraid.  You probably know the word “timid.”  This is the opposite of your prediction; eliminate it.  Note:  don’t confuse timorousness with temerity: the second actually means daring or recklessness.  In this case there is a big difference between an “i” and an “e.”

The correct answer is (C).

Words used in this SC:
Conspicuous: obvious or attracting attention
Virile: possessing manly characteristics or strength
Heedless: unaware or careless
Dauntless: fearless and bold
Callow: immature or inexperienced, juvenile
Timorous: fearful, timid


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

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

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The correct answer is (B).

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


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

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

Sentence Completions

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

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

Always cover your answer choices before reading the sentence.  Then read the entire sentence carefully.  Use the context clues in the sentence to predict what belongs in the blank.  Compare your prediction to each answer choice, asking yourself whether the choice matches your prediction.  If the answer is no, eliminate that choice.  Be sure to look at all the answer choices before selecting your answer.

Cormac McCarthy has a reputation for being one of the most ------- figures in literature; for many years, few people knew what the writer looked like or where he lived.

The definition of the word that belongs in the blank is in this sentence right after the semi-colon.  What word would you use to describe someone who few recognize or know much about?  There are many words that might come to mind: unsociable, solitary, withdrawn.  Use the word that comes to mind as your prediction and look down at your answer choices.

(A) overbearing
(B) sedate
(C) sociable
(D) celebrated
(E) reclusive

(A)  This does not match your prediction.  You know nothing about how this person interacts with others because he doesn’t interact with others.  Eliminate this choice.  (B)  This answer is meant to distract you because the Latin root “sed” can mean “apart.”  However, another meaning of the Latin root, the one that is used here is “calm.”  This does not match your prediction, so you can eliminate it.  (C)  This is the opposite of your prediction!  Eliminate it!  (D)  This answer may be tempting because the author is described as “most” something and people seem to want to know him.  Still, there is no indication that people appreciate this person’s writing.  Stick to your original prediction.  The sentence clearly indicates that this person is unsociable, so the word celebrated will not be the answer.  Eliminate it.  (E)  You may know the related word “recluse.”  This answer matches perfectly.

The correct answer is (E).

Words used in this SC:
Overbearing: demanding, bossy
Sedate: calm, composed
Sociable: friendly, congenial
Celebrated: famous, widely praised
Reclusive: preferring privacy and isolation


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

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

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Finding a balance in life can be difficult.  When is it most important to make money?  When is it most important to spend time with family?  Read this article about how stores and restaurants are staying open during the holidays.  Try to think about this issue from a variety of perspectives.  Be sure to realize that many people observe holidays, religious or otherwise, that are not recognized by major companies in the United States.  If this topic interests you, write down the facts involved and use it as a current event for your SAT essay.

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

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

Always cover up the answer choices before reading the sentence so that wrong answers will not affect your thought process.  Read the sentence carefully and use context clues to predict a word to fill the blank.  Match your prediction to the correct answer choice, eliminating any word that does not match.  Be sure to look at all of the answer choices before selecting your answer.

He felt like a ------- at the meeting when his coworkers failed to acknowledge either his ideas for or his opinions of the new business plan.

How does a person feel when his ideas are not acknowledged?  This person probably feels worthless or undervalued.  You don’t have to come up with an exact word to fill the blank; you can simply predict that he felt like a “worthless person.”  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) magnate
(B) cohort
(C) nonentity
(D) bigwig
(E) lackey

(A) The Latin root “magn” means great or large – think of the word magnificent.  This is the opposite of your prediction.  Eliminate it.  (B) The Latin prefix “co” means together, but this person feels undervalued by others, a very isolating feeling.  Eliminate this choice.  (C) An entity is just something.  If this person feels like a “nonentity,” he feels completely worthless.  This answer choice matches your prediction.  Keep it.  (D) Even if you don’t know what a “bigwig” is, you know that the person in the sentence feels “small” rather than big.  Eliminate this choice.  (E) This looks like a good choice because it seems to contain the word “lack.”  However, you may have watched a movie in which a mob boss has a lackey.  The lackey runs around doing menial things for his boss, which does not really match your prediction.  Instead of trying to talk yourself into this answer, eliminate it.

The correct answer is (C).

Words used in this SC:
Magnate: Powerful person, usually in industry
Cohort: A person supporting the same thing, an accomplice
Nonentity: an unimportant person or thing
Bigwig: an important person
Lackey: a servant or servile follower


On sat.collegeboard.org, 62% 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. 

Use the same method for every sentence completion question.  Cover your answers so that you are not distracted by incorrect choices as you read the sentence carefully.  Then make a prediction for the easier blank.  Eliminate any choices that do not match your prediction.  Then make a prediction for the other blank. Eliminate any remaining choices that do not match your prediction.  You can be sure of your answer with this method.

Although they are perceived as ------- by some, the various vocalizations of the common loon may sound harsh and ------- to others.

This question requires you to think logically about the relationship between the two blanks.  The word “although” signals that there is a contrast.  Paraphrase the sentence to yourself: “Some people think the loon sounds one way, but others think it sounds another way.”  The second blank is linked with “and,” a conjunction that does not show contrast.  Whatever is in that blank must be like the word before it, “harsh.”  “Harsh” is a negative word, so the second blank must be negative.  Predict a negative word for the second blank and look down at your answer choices.

(A) irritable . . migratory
(B) mellifluous . . discordant
(C) soothing . . palatable
(D) pervasive . . strident
(E) loathsome . . intolerable

(A) The word migratory is not negative; it is neutral.  Migrating is not good or bad, it is just something that birds do.  Eliminate this choice.  (B) Discordant sounds negative, so keep it.  (C) Good food is palatable, so this is actually a positive word.  Eliminate it.  (D) Strident sounds negative, so keep it.  (E) Intolerable also sounds negative, so keep it as well.

Now go back to thinking about the original sentence.  The first blank had to contrast with the second blank because of the word “although.”  A positive word would contrast a negative word.  Predict a positive word for the first blank and look down at your remaining answer choices.

(B) mellifluous . . discordant
(D) pervasive . . strident
(E) loathsome . . intolerable

(B)  Mellifluous has the same root as melody.  These words come from the Latin prefix “mell-,” which means honey.  In this case it means “like honey,” not actual honey.  Think of the qualities of honey as being sweet and pleasing. (The Latin root “flu” means flow – think of the word “fluid.”)  This is definitely a positive word.  Keep it.  (D) Does the word pervasive sound positive?  Pervasive things are everywhere, which means that it could be a good or a bad thing depending on what is in abundance.  Eliminate this word.  (E) Loathsome is a really negative word.  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Vocalization: an utterance, sounds or words out loud
Loon: a bird
Irritable: easily annoyed
Migratory: someone that migrates, travels each season
Mellifluous: sweet and smooth (often used to describe words or voices)
Discordant: harsh or dissonant sounding
Soothing: giving relief
Palatable: pleasing to the taste
Pervasive: throughout everything
Strident: loud, shrill, grating, obnoxious
Loathsome: highly offensive, sickening
Intolerable: offensive, not proper or right to allow


On sat.collegeboard.org, 54% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Teachers and parents are often so caught up in trying to prepare teens for the future that they don’t realize that teens have a lot to contribute in the present.  Your life is happening now; instead of waiting for the future, get out there and make a difference with the talents that you have.  Here is the story of one teen, Jack Andraka, who created a method to detect pancreatic cancer.  (And yes, this would make a great current event example for your SAT essay!)

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

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

Cover up the answer choices until you have read the sentence and made a prediction to fill the blank.  Then match your prediction to the correct answer and eliminate any words that do not match.  Make sure to examine all of the answer choices as possibilities. 

The salmon's extraordinary ability to smell a single drop of its home river in almost two million gallons of seawater is only one of the fish's many ------- skills.

Ask yourself, what kind of skill does this fish have?  It is extraordinary!  You can use words that are in the sentence to save yourself time.  This extraordinary ability is just one of the many extraordinary skills that the fish has.  Predict the word “extraordinary” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) sinuous
(B) encumbered
(C) colossal
(D) prodigious
(E) furtive

(A) The Latin prefix “sinu-“ has something to do with drawing a line.  Think of the graph of sine from your math classes: it is curvy.  Curvy doesn’t match your prediction of extraordinary, so eliminate this choice.  (B)Encumber is a negative word:  Too many shopping bags encumber a person.  You are looking for a positive word, so eliminate this choice.  (C) Colossal has something to do with big, so this might be a tempting answer.  However, it actually means big as in large, not big as in a big idea.  Eliminate this choice. (D)  The prefix “pro” from prodigious means for or forward, and is often used with positive words.  Think of the related word, prodigy.  Are prodigies extraordinary?  Yes, so keep this choice.  The Latin prefix “furt” means “steal,” so you can identify this as a negative word.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (D).

Words used in this SC:
Sinuous: curvy and graceful or indirect and devious
Encumbered: weighed down with a burden
Colossal: extremely large, gigantic
Prodigious: extraordinary, wonderful, enormous
Furtive: stealthy, exhibiting guilty or evasive secrecy


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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The correct answer is (D).

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


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

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