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

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

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

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

Many good-willed people decided to take up the cause of ___________ on behalf of the enslaved population, believing that none deserved to have their rights so totally __________.

Possible Answers:

freedom . . . questioned

fighting . . . inquired

emancipation . . . curbed

arguing . . . notarized

shouting . . . lacerated

Correct answer:

emancipation . . . curbed

Explanation:

The sentence implies that people are supporting the slaves against an injustice. Although it does not say such, we can at first assume the injustice to be slavery. This is particularly the case based on an investigation of the options provided for the second blank. "Lacerated" means cut open. This would be metaphorical at best. "Notarized" makes no sense here. "Totally questioned" really is a bit of a strange pairing, for the sentence implies that this is a matter of something more than mere questioning. To be "totally inquired" does not fit grammatically. Therefore, the best pair of answers is "emancipation . . . curbed." To "emancipate" is to free. It comes from the word for "hand" in Latin, which we find in words like "manual" (e.g. "manual labor") and manuscript (meaning "handwritten"). To "e-manicipate" is to set free the hands of someone. To "curb" is to restrain or hold back.

Example Question #35 : Two Blank Sentences

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

The demagogue worked day and night, __________ the passions of the __________ against those whom he declared to be the “privileged few.”

Possible Answers:

garnering . . . intelligentia

overriding . . . recalcitrant

exciting . . . disenfranchised

discussing . . . bankers

exculpating . . . many

Correct answer:

exciting . . . disenfranchised

Explanation:

To answer this question, it helps to know the meaning of "demagogue". This is a person who tries to lead in political and public matters by using emotions. He or she stirs up the emotions of the people to get them to act in a certain manner. This should lead you to think "exciting" is the correct first word. ("Exciting" can merely mean arousing strong feelings.) Still, you may be tempted to choose "many" for the second blank. However, "exculpatory" means getting out of trouble. That makes no sense here. The best option is "exciting ... disenfranchised". To be "disenfranchised" means to be powerless in a society. This contrasts well enough to the demagogue's "privileged few." To "gain the franchise" means to become able to vote. Voting allows people to have some power in society.

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