On the Upper Level ISEE Verbal section, the Sentence Completion questions are quite a bit more difficult than the questions asked on the Middle Level examination that your student might have taken for admission to his or her middle school. Like the questions of the same type found on the Middle and Lower Level exams, the Sentence Completion questions on the Upper Level examination test both the young student’s acquired vocabulary skills as well as his or her abilities to reason through the logic of sentences that are missing content. As expected, the Upper Level examination contains vocabulary items that are significantly more difficult than those found on the lower levels of examination. This is understandable, given the fact that the Upper Level examination targets students at a later stage in their education.
What is particularly more difficult is the introduction of multi-blank Sentence Completion exercises. Heretofore, it was necessary for the student to ascertain a single correct word to complete a given sentence. Thus, reading the clues of the given sentential context, the student would choose the single word that best completes the sentence. This type of question tests the general verbal-inferential abilities of the student as well as his or her acquired vocabulary.
The Upper Level exam continues to utilize such single-blank questions but also adds ones that contain two missing words. These types of questions are a good deal harder than the aforementioned single-blank sentences. In the case of such multiple-blank questions, it is necessary for students to interpret two “levels” of contextual clues in order to find the correct answer to the question before them. On the one hand, the sentence itself does continue to provide basic clues for eliminating certain options and perhaps choosing other ones. Indeed, it is often (if not always) the case that the sentence will provide the student with enough information to choose the general meaning needed for one of the blanks placed in the sentence.
Things become more difficult at this point, however, for this one blank will likely have an effect on the potential options for the other one in the sentence. At times, the student will have several synonymous options offered for the first blank that they are filling in. Based on the general meaning cluster of those synonymous words, the student will then have to infer the potential meaning of the other blank. Thus, the logic of the sentence will need to unfold progressively. That is, the provided information will help the student to directly intuit one the first option that he or she will need to choose for the sentence. After this, however, the choice made for the first blank will then require the student to reevaluate the sentence and choose the best possible option for the remaining blank.
This kind of “two-step logic” is a bit more involved than that tested on the earlier ISEE tests. Therefore, the test-taker must carefully prepare for this more rigorous testing, adequately learning the vocabulary and linguistic skills needed for success on this section.