SAT Critical Reading : Verbs and Adjectives or Adverbs in Two-Blank Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Verbs And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

Thomas Jefferson never __________ in his commitment to liberty; he remained a(n) __________ devotee to universal freedom throughout his life.

Possible Answers:

wavered . . . steadfast

paused . . . histrionic

halted . . . anxious

deviated . . . apathetic

enumerated . . . committed

Correct answer:

wavered . . . steadfast

Explanation:

The use of the words “remained” and “never” should clue you in that the sentence is describing how Thomas Jefferson was consistently committed to liberty and universal freedom throughout his life. This means that the first blank has to describe how he never stopped. Of the possible answer choices "wavered," "deviated," "halted," and "paused" could all possibly be correct, though "wavered" and "deviated" are the most obvious choices. From the context of the sentence, you know that the second blank has to mean something like unwavering. "Steadfast" (which means resolute or persistent) is a much better fit than "anxious," so "wavered . . . steadfast" is the correct answer. "Deviated" means turned away from; "apathetic" means not caring; "enumerated" means listed; and "histrionic" means extremely dramatic.

Example Question #2 : Verbs And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

After getting her new kite caught in the thorny underbrush, Karen initially grew __________ , stamping her foot, making annoyed noises, and demanding someone help her get it back, but eventually realized that she would have to go after it herself when no one offered to help her __________ it.

Possible Answers:

relieved . . . recover

understanding . . . persuade

irate . . . retrieve

patient . . . recycle

frustrated . . . dispose of

Correct answer:

irate . . . retrieve

Explanation:

We can infer that because Karen "stamp[ed] her foot, [made] annoyed noises, and demand[ed]" help with getting her kite back, she must have been angry. So, we need to pick out an adjective that means something like "angry" for the first blank. Either "frustrated" ("feeling or expressing distress and annoyance, especially because of inability to change or achieve something") or "irate" ("feeling or characterized by great anger") could be potentially correct. For the second blank, we can infer that we need to pick out a verb that means something like "get back," because we know that Karen's intention was to get her kite back. Either "recover" ("find or regain possession of something stolen or lost" when used with an object) or "retrieve" ("get or bring something back; regain possession of") could be potentially correct. Of the possible words that we've identified as potentially correct for each blank, only "irate" and "retrieve" appear in the same answer choice, so the correct answer is "irate . . . retrieve."

Example Question #3 : Verbs And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

The wild boar __________ around for berries and roots beside the __________ stream that gushed, bubbled, and whisked away any sticks of leaves that chanced to fall into it.

Possible Answers:

sat . . . indeterminate

rooted . . . weltering

coiled . . . roiling

searched . . . evaporated

neared . . . frozen

Correct answer:

rooted . . . weltering

Explanation:

We know that the boar was looking "for berries and roots," so we can infer that it was searching around near the ground. So, we need to pick out an adjective that means something like "search near the ground" for the first blank; either "rooted" ("of an animal: turn up the ground with its snout in search of food") or "searched" could be potentially correct. For the second blank, we need to pick out an answer choice that means something like "quickly moving" to describe the stream, because we're told that it "gushed, bubbled, and whisked away any sticks of leaves that chanced to fall into it." Either "weltering" ("moving in a turbulent fashion") or "roiling" ("of a liquid: move in a turbulent, swirling manner") could be a potentially correct answer. Of the potentially correct answers we've identified, only "rooted" and "weltering" appear in a single answer choice, so "rooted . . . weltering" is the correct answer.

Example Question #4 : Verbs And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

Select the word or word pair that best completes the sentence.

Mozart was so __________ as a child that he could __________ piano pieces that would take an adult composer weeks to write.

Possible Answers:

rapacious . . . embellish

advanced . . . validate

precocious . . . improvise

gregarious . . . perform

Correct answer:

precocious . . . improvise

Explanation:

"Precocious" and "advanced" could both describe a child prodigy. A precocious (from a Latin word meaning "fully ripened") musician might "improvise" (make things up on the fly), "perform," or "embellish" (ornament or adorn—in music this would involve making a simple tune sound more complex and intricate) a piece. Thus, the precocious/improvise pairing is the only one that works in both blanks.

Example Question #5 : Verbs And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

The English teacher __________ Shakespeare; not only does she quote his plays in class, but she can do so __________, without preparing for her performances beforehand.

Possible Answers:

condenses . . . ephemerally

denounces . . . jubilantly

venerates . . . meticulously

jeopardizes . . . contemptibly

reveres . . . extemporaneously

Correct answer:

reveres . . . extemporaneously

Explanation:

We know that the English teacher really appreciates Shakespeare and his works, so for the first blank, we're looking for an adjective that means something similar to appreciates. Both "venerates" and "reveres" mean deeply respects, so each could work in the first blank.

This leaves us to pick between "extemporaneously" and "meticulously" for the second blank. We need a word that conveys how the teacher is able to recite Shakespeare without preparing beforehand, and since "extemporaneous" means spur-of-the-moment, and "meticulous" means very detail-oriented, "extemporaneously" is the better choice, and the correct answer is "reveres . . . extemporaneously."

Example Question #6 : Verbs And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

The ___________ scientist decided that he would attempt to __________ his competitor’s work, making it appear dubious to the general scientific community.

Possible Answers:

judgmental . . . overthrow

underhanded . . . question

rival . . . discredit

arrogant . . . destroy

recalcitrant . . . dispute

Correct answer:

rival . . . discredit

Explanation:

Here, the best option is to pay heed to the second blank. The scientist wants to make his competitor’s work seem "dubious," that is, doubtful; therefore, he would like to make its credibility questionable by the broader community. It is best to say that he wishes to “discredit” it. Regarding the first blank, we really are not told anything about the first scientist’s character in the sentence. This means that the best option is the one that merely states what we can imply from the rest of the sentence, namely, that he is a "[competitor]," or a "rival" scientist.

Example Question #2 : Verbs And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

Feeling that the last joke Harry made at his friend's expense had been __________ an insult, he immediately felt ____________ and apologized for his rude humor.

Possible Answers:

separate from . . . insulted

unlike. . . guilty

akin to . . . contrite

juxtaposed with . . . ecstatic

equivalent to . . . satisfied

Correct answer:

akin to . . . contrite

Explanation:

For the first blank, because we know that Harry "apologized for his rude humor," we can guess that his joke was a borderline insult. So, we need to pick out an answer choice that means something like "similar to." Either "akin to" ("of similar character") or "equivalent to" ("having the same or a similar effect as") could be potentially correct. For the second blank, we need to pick out a word that describes the emotion that Harry felt that prompted him to apologize; either "guilty" or "contrite" ("feeling or expressing remorse or penitence; affected by guilt") could be potentially correct. Of the possible words that we've identified as potentially correct for each blank, only "akin to" and "contrite" appear in the same answer choice, so the correct answer is "akin to . . . contrite."

Example Question #3 : Verbs And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

The police chief decided that it would be ___________ to miss the opportunity to __________ the outlaws and try to come to an understanding, so he took them up on their demand for him to come alone to their hideout at night.

Possible Answers:

smart . . . talk with

evanescent . . . veer

imprudent . . . negotiate with

foolish . . . ignore

perpetual . . . avoid

Correct answer:

imprudent . . . negotiate with

Explanation:

For the first blank, we can infer that because the police chief decided to go meet the outlaws at their hideout, he must have thought that it would be a bad idea to miss that opportunity. So, we need to pick out a word that means something like "a bad idea." Either "foolish" ("lacking good sense or judgment; unwise" and used of a person or action) or "imprudent" ("not showing care for the consequences of an action; rash") could be potentially correct. For the second blank, because we know that the police chief wanted to "try to come to an understanding" with the outlaws, we need to pick out a verb that reflects this. Either "talk with" or "negotiate with" ("negotiate" meaning "try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion with others") could be potentially correct. Of the possible words that we've identified as potentially correct for each blank, only "imprudent" and "negotiate with" appear in the same answer choice, so the correct answer is "imprudent . . . negotiate with."

Example Question #9 : Verbs And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

After the princess was __________ by the villainous sorcerer and taken from the royal castle to his lair against her will, the king promised a __________ reward of gold, jewels, and knighthood to whomever could ensure her safe return.

Possible Answers:

kidnapped . . . ductile

mentored . . . genteel

abducted . . . vast

endorsed . . . prone

abdicated . . . enormous

Correct answer:

abducted . . . vast

Explanation:

For the first blank, we can tell that we need to find a word that means something like stolen, since we know the princess was taken against her will to the sorcerer's lair. Either "abducted" (taken away illegally by force or deception) or "kidnapped" (taken away by force, typically to obtain a ransom) could work. For the second blank, we need to find a word that means something like "large," since the reward involved gold, jewels, and knighthood. Either "vast" (humongous, extensive, immense) or "enormous" (very large in size, quantity, or extent) could work. Of the potentially correct answers we've identified, only "abducted" and "vast" appear in a single answer choice, so "abducted . . . vast" is the correct answer.

Example Question #4 : Verbs And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

The teacher's comments on Eleanor's five-page paper suggested that it was a bit too __________ for the assignment, which was intended to be about two pages at the most; however, her teacher also offered her tips on how to __________ extraneous material to make her paper fit within the page limit.

Possible Answers:

verbose . . . excise

wordy . . . add

tangential . . . prepare

concise . . . trim

compact . . . include

Correct answer:

verbose . . . excise

Explanation:

Because we know that Eleanor wrote a five page paper for an assignment "which was intended to be about two pages at the most," we can infer that we need to pick out an adjective for the first blank that means something like "too long" and can be applied to written works. Either "verbose" ("using or expressed in more words than are needed") or "wordy" ("using or expressed in too many words") could be potentially correct. For the second blank, we need to pick out a verb that means something like "cut down on the size of," because we can infer that Eleanor's teacher would offer her tips on how to get rid of extraneous material, not on how to add more. Either "excise" ("cut out surgically" or "remove a section from a text or piece of music") or "trim" (" make (something) neat or of the required size or form by cutting away irregular or unwanted parts") could be potentially correct. Of the potentially correct answers we've identified, only "verbose" and "excise" appear in a single answer choice, so "verbose . . . excise" is the correct answer.

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