PSAT Critical Reading : Style, Intensity, and Connotation in One-Blank Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

After many failures, it is often difficult to believe that success is on the __________; nevertheless, one should slog on with high hopes of success.

Possible Answers:

plan

itinerary

regimen

horizon

brink

Correct answer:

horizon

Explanation:

The tone of this sentence is somewhat informal, so bear this in mind when making and confirming your choice. The expression "slog on" means to work hard or to work diligently. This second half intends to say that someone should continue to work hard in the hopes that success may indeed be "at hand." To say that something is "on the horizon" means that it is "nearly here." The horizon is the farthest edge of our view, where the sky meets the ground. Therefore, the expression, "on the horizon" means "almost going to appear"—like the sun appearing on the horizon. This fits well with the first half of the sentence.

Example Question #2 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

It might seem cruel, but it is necessary to __________ the ants completely, for if any remain alive, they will surely return to the house.

Possible Answers:

assail

trap

outdo

exterminate

poison

Correct answer:

exterminate

Explanation:

First of all, do not "overshoot" your details by choosing something like "poison" or "trap." We cannot justify such specificity without other clues. The key thing to note is the adverb "completely." We clearly are being told that the ants must be utterly killed. Now, "outdo" and "assail" just do not work for anything regarding killing—at least in no direct sense. However, "exterminate" is an excellent word. It not only expresses such killing but does so with completeness. A "terminus" is an end of something (just as a "terminal" at the airport is the branching walkway that goes all the way to the end of the possible planes). To "ex-terminate" is to drive something out beyond the boundaries. In English, it generally means "beyond the boundaries of life"—completely killing.

Example Question #3 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

Water may be a joy for most people to drink, but for coffee lovers, a good “cup o’ joe” is a most __________ experience.

Possible Answers:

attractive

pleasant

fortunate

blissful

agreeable

Correct answer:

blissful

Explanation:

The intensifying adverb “most” requires us to look for the strongest possible option among those given. While “pleasant” and “agreeable” do work in a certain manner, the word “blissful” best fits for this very strong use. “Bliss” is an extreme form of happiness, denoting complete and perfect joy. Though perhaps an overstatement regarding coffee in general, this sentence clearly calls for such a strong usage and not the weaker ones mentioned above.

Example Question #1 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

Given the small size of Sally’s frame, it only took two alcoholic beverages to make her become totally __________ and incapable of walking a straight line without significant wavering.

Possible Answers:

inebriated

incapacitated

overwhelmed

dessicated

submergered

Correct answer:

inebriated

Explanation:

Clearly, the point in the sentence is that Sally became drunk from the beverages. It is not right to say that she was incapacitated, a word meaning that she would have no capacity for action whatsoever. Instead, all that can be asserted is that she is drunk. Such a state of health is called “inebriation,” from the Latin “ebrius,” meaning “drunk.”

Example Question #5 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

The beautiful __________ painting, with its fluid and meandering lines, was a calming view for the patients in the waiting room.

Possible Answers:

mediocre

arabesque

serene

pastoral

baroque

Correct answer:

arabesque

Explanation:

An “arabesque” style painting is one with flowing lines. The word does indeed mean Arab-like (-esque), for it was believed to be derived in the West from Arab styles of art (which under Islamic influence would have lacked pictorial representation). The actual sources for such art are more complex, related to earlier Greek and Roman forms of ornamentation.

Example Question #6 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

The butler welcomed the guests from the door into a small __________, whence they would later be taken to the main dining room for the night’s gathering.

Possible Answers:

patio

antechamber

accommodation

guestroom

bedroom

Correct answer:

antechamber

Explanation:

The people were brought into an entry room, which could be considered as the “fore-room” to the main meeting area. Such an area is called an “antechamber” because it comes before (=ante) the main chamber or room. The prefix “ante-” can be found in words like “anterior,” “antecedent,” and “antebellum;” (the last meaning before a / the war—often the American Civil War in our usage in the United States).

Example Question #7 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

In a sense, one could say that we have a __________ relationship with the bacteria that live in our digestive system. Just as those bacteria cannot live without the environment that we provide, we too would suffer a great loss if we lost the influence of their beneficial waste production.

Possible Answers:

beneficial

biological

useful

symbiotic

friendly

Correct answer:

symbiotic

Explanation:

If two living things live together and (at least in a sense or to a degree) require each other for life, they have a “symbiotic” relationship. (It is possible to use the word merely to mean that they live in close proximity, though general usage often implies the advantageous nature of the relationship). The word comes from Greek roots. “Sym” (or “syn”) means together or “same” and is found in English words like “synonym,” “sympathy,” and “synagogue.” The “-biotic” portion comes from a root word meaning life, found in words like “biology,” “biopsy,” and “biography.”

Example Question #8 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

The author’s well known and epic __________ was written over a period of eighteen years amid the terrors and displacements of the Second World War.

Possible Answers:

poem

chronicle

saga

opus

novel

Correct answer:

opus

Explanation:

The word “opus” is directly derived from the Latin word for work, and while its English usage often implies a musical work, it can more broadly indicate any artistic work, particularly one that is very large and involved. The word “opus” in Latin has a forms containing the base “oper-”, found in English words like “opera” and “operate.”

Example Question #9 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

The editor would __________ each article, focusing on every word chosen by his writers, fearful that anything inappropriate would be published.

Possible Answers:

critique

question

assess

review

scrutinize

Correct answer:

scrutinize

Explanation:

The key expression here is “focusing on every word . . .” This gives the sense of paying close attention to each word in the articles. The word “scrutinize” means to examine or inspect thoroughly, which captures this sense.

Example Question #74 : One Blank Sentences

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

After suffering countless defeats, the football team was utterly __________, to the point of no longer hoping for victories in the coming season.

Possible Answers:

dejected

sober

despondent

resigned

stoical

Correct answer:

despondent

Explanation:

In contrast to the other words given as possible answers, being “despondent” implies lack of hope—not merely disappointment or emotional detachment. This is called for by the key phrase, “to the point of no longer hoping for . . .”

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