PSAT Critical Reading : Conjunctions and Sentence Logic in Two-Blank Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Context Clues In Two Blank Sentences

At the end of the long line, the last two men spoke with irritation.  The __________ man was particularly __________, and continually voiced his annoyance to the man at the very end of the line.

Possible Answers:

burly . . . bombastic

penultimate . . . vexed

malicious . . . retiring

agitated . . . annoying

secondary . . . exasperated

Correct answer:

penultimate . . . vexed

Explanation:

The “penultimate” position is the second from last. If the two men talking are the last and the second from last, our speaking man is the “penultimate” man.  To be “annoyed” is to be vexed, a word derived from related Latin roots meaning to annoy and reflected in the related word “vexation.”

Example Question #2 : Context Clues In Two Blank Sentences

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

Desperate to __________ the results of the survey, which indicated that he was strongly disliked by the general public, the congressman attempted to __________ the company not to publish it.

Possible Answers:

sustain . . . conceal

galvanize . . . malign

distract . . . suspend

mollify . . . disregard

suppress . . . induce

Correct answer:

suppress . . . induce

Explanation:

That the survey on the congressman's popularity was negative provides a strong clue that his reaction would be negative. This matches his desire to suppress it, and "induce" is the only word that makes contextual sense for the latter portion of the sentence. So, the correct answer is "suppress . . . induce."

Example Question #7 : Context Clues In Two Blank Sentences

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

The __________ information he provided about his childhood wasn't necessary; he needed to be more __________ and spend less time talking about his past and more time talking about the deficiencies of the public school system.

Possible Answers:

arbitrary . . . verbose

extraneous . . . concise

articulate . . . dogmatic

cryptic . . . succinct

obscure . . . erudite

Correct answer:

extraneous . . . concise

Explanation:

The key to this question is the phrase "wasn't necessary," which indicates that he spoke about nonessential ("extraneous") information. Thus he needed to shorten his speech, or make it more "concise."

Example Question #1 : Context Clues In Two Blank Sentences

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

Despite the advice he had received to project a confident __________, James realized that being __________ with the interviewers made him much more endearing than bragging about his accomplishments could have.

Possible Answers:

attitude . . . distinguished

persona . . . distinguished

countenance . . . disingenuous

description . . . illusioned

demeanor . . . forthright

Correct answer:

demeanor . . . forthright

Explanation:

"Countenance" and "demeanor" could both work for the first blank. That James was doing the opposite of bragging gives a strong contextual clue that the second word will be similar to honest. This is exactly what "forthright" means.

Example Question #2 : Two Blank Sentences

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

The protestors were __________ at being arrested since they had been making their concerns heard __________.

Possible Answers:

petite . . . peacefully

voracious . . . arbitrarily

belligerent . . . redundantly

incredulous . . . amiably

despondent . . . violently

Correct answer:

incredulous . . . amiably

Explanation:

"Incredulous" means shocked or indicating disbelief, and "amiably" means acting in a friendly or agreeable manner, so "incredulous . . . amiably" is the correct answer because its words best fit the sentence's context.

Example Question #10 : Context Clues In Two Blank Sentences

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

The promotion to supervisor was all that Larry had been working for, and when it went to a coworker to whom Larry considered himself superior, he was __________ and considered __________ his position.

Possible Answers:

distraught . . . resigning

enamored . . . discussing

oblivious . . . donating

contemporary . . . lamenting

furious . . . acquiring

Correct answer:

distraught . . . resigning

Explanation:

That Larry considers the promoted coworker to be inferior to himself tells us that his emotions towards this coworker should be negative. "Furious" and "distraught" are each potentially correct choices for the first blank, because "furious" is synonymous with enraged and "distraught" is synonymous with upset. This leaves "resigning" or "acquiring" as options for the second's second blank. "Resign" means to give up one's position, and "acquire" means obtain or receive, so "resign" makes more sense because this is clearly a situation where Larry is considering leaving the company.

Example Question #1 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In Two Blank Sentences

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

Although the math course began with relatively simple problems for the first several weeks, the topics increased in __________ rapidly as the semester __________.

Possible Answers:

obscurity . . . advanced

length . . . concluded

expression . . . ended

complexity . . . progressed

difficulty . . . declined

Correct answer:

complexity . . . progressed

Explanation:

The contrast in this sentence is with “relatively simple problems.” Although less simple problems would be perhaps more obscure or of greater length, the most direct contrasting option is “complexity.” The word is derived from Latin roots that literally mean “folded over (itself).” The “folding” portion of this meaning is found in the “-plex,” which is related not only to “perplex” but also “plait” and “pleat.” In addition to its common noun usage, the word “progress” can also be used as a verb meaning to go forward. The “pro-” portion means “forward,” while the “-gress” is derived from the Latin for to step. The latter is found in English words like “regress,” “transgress,” and “digression.”

Example Question #2 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In Two Blank Sentences

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

A river gushing forth from a nearby mountain spring was not only a(n) __________ source of drinking water for the city, but also a(n) __________ source of stones used to construct the city’s buildings.

Possible Answers:

potent . . . arable

trivial . . . essential

valuable . . . vital

indeterminate . . . meandering

important . . . insignificant

Correct answer:

valuable . . . vital

Explanation:

The phrase “not only . . . but also” requires two words that have similar meanings. Both blanks require a word that means “important” or “valuable.” The only answer that satisfies these requirements is "valuable . . . vital."

Example Question #3 : Two Blank Sentences

Choose the word or set of words that best completes the following sentence.

The parents scolded their son for attempting to __________ his mistake, rather than __________ his wrongdoing.

Possible Answers:

conceal . . . admit

disclose . . . disguise

blame . . . testify

confess . . . hide

address . . . prolong

Correct answer:

conceal . . . admit

Explanation:

The first blank requires a word that means “to conceal” or to “to hide.” Furthermore, the phrase “rather than” indicates the correct answer will have a word pair that is opposite in meaning. “Admit” is opposite the meaning of “conceal,” therefore this is the correct answer. 

Example Question #2 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In Two Blank Sentences

Choose the set of words that best completes the following sentence.

The professor worked for decades on what he intended to be a truly __________ work.  In reality, the text fell short of its soaring expectations and was in reality nothing more than a rather pitiful and __________ outline.

Possible Answers:

provocative . . . forgotten

noteworthy . . . contested

remarkable . . . outdated

groundbreaking . . . bombastic

magisterial . . . unconvincing

Correct answer:

magisterial . . . unconvincing

Explanation:

The hints in these sentences indicate that the text was planned to be very “in depth”—“soaring expectations” met with, instead, some sort of “pitiful . . . outline.” If something is “magisterial” it has or shows great authority. This can work well for the opposition made between that and being “unconvincing,” if the latter term is taken in the sense of “lacking authority.” In any case, the other cases imply other shades of meaning not included in the sentence. The term “magisterial” comes from the Latin for “teacher” and is found likewise in the word “magistrate.” 

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