PSAT Critical Reading : Adjectives and Adverbs in One-Blank Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #45 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

Ryan did not seem to be aware of how __________ he appeared to others, even though his actions seemed to show an utter lack of respect for the sensibilities of those with whom he spoke.

Possible Answers:

deceptive

callous

censorious

judgmental

hypocritical

Correct answer:

callous

Explanation:

The key thing to note in this sentence is that Ryan did not show respect for others. This does not necessarily mean that he was judgmental or censorious with regard to them. The word “callous” best fits the need in this sentence, for it means that one is insensitive to others or disregards them. It is related to the physical notion of “callus,” in the sense of a hardened piece of skin (like that which one gets from playing the guitar).

Example Question #46 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

Few people are experts in many subjects, though some people can be at least __________ in quite a few.

Possible Answers:

remarkable

competent

dependable

reviewed

steady

Correct answer:

competent

Explanation:

The implication in this sentence is that quite a few people at least have abilities in subjects to a decent degree, even if not one that is superlative. When someone has “competency” in something, he or she is said to have an adequate amount of skill, at least enough to be able to do the task. It is indirectly related to words like “compete,” “competitor,” and “petition.” All of these words come from Latin roots meaning “to seek,” (implied by the “-pet-” portion of the word).

Example Question #53 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

The recently published book was a __________ piece of academic writing, exceeding all other attempts to discuss the problem of human intentions.

Possible Answers:

complete

thorough

surprising

superlative

laudable

Correct answer:

superlative

Explanation:

The sentence implies that the writing was the best of such work. To be “superlative,” literally means “to be carried over” or (more properly in English usage) “the highest degree (of something).” In grammar, the superlative is the “-est” form of a word (e.g. hottest, nicest, heaviest), meaning “the most . . .” The word itself comes from the prefix “super-”, meaning “over,” and the base “-lat-”, which comes from the Latin for “to carry.” The word “translate,” has this same base, literally meaning “to carry over from one place to another.”

Example Question #51 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

In his childhood, Paco had been a cheerful baby, but by his twenties had developed a surprisingly __________ temperament.

Possible Answers:

pensive

introverted

reflective

spoiled

dour

Correct answer:

dour

Explanation:

The implication in our sentence is that Paco had become “not cheerful.” While that might lead one to be introverted, or perhaps even reflective, it is most directly opposed by a “dour” temperament. A dour person is strictly speaking stern or severe, though often the word is used to imply a certain gloominess as well. It is in this last sense that it is being used here.

Example Question #52 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

In contrast to her brother’s resolute determination, Patricia had a very __________ attitude toward any undertaking.

Possible Answers:

fickle

discerning

slothful

judgmental

questioning

Correct answer:

fickle

Explanation:

When someone is resolute, he or she is determined and unwavering. In contrast to this, Patricia must be said to be regularly changing. Hence, the best description of her attitude would be that of being “fickle,” which means “frequently changing.”

Example Question #53 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

Nick had great abilities in tactile undertakings, but when it came to dealing with abstract thoughts, he found all such matters to be too __________ for his taste.

Possible Answers:

boring

ethereal

distant

detached

removed

Correct answer:

ethereal

Explanation:

The contrast here is between “tactile undertakings” and “abstract thoughts.” You must look for something match the “abstract” nature of the thoughts, particularly considering how something abstract could be considered opposed to something “tactile” (i.e. something that can be touched or felt); therefore, while options like “detached,” “distant,” or “removed” might seem appropriate, the best answer is “ethereal” which implies an almost spiritual or incorporeal and intangible distance from earthly—indeed, tangible—things.

Example Question #54 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

The historian of the Middle Ages believed that everything modern was an __________ version of some more profound and fruitful reality found in the earlier age.

Possible Answers:

unkempt

unraveled

undone

impoverished

incapacitated

Correct answer:

impoverished

Explanation:

The historian is contrasting the “profound and fruitful reality” of the Middle Ages with what he must take to be the less fruitful nature of modernity. The best option is therefore “impoverished,” which implies a loss of “fruitfulness,” “productivity,” or more generally “strength or vitality.” The other options do not directly capture this notion of a loss of vigor.

Example Question #55 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

Many people thought the water in the cistern was __________, when in fact it had been filled with infusions of the deadly ebola virus.

Possible Answers:

polluted

brackish

pristine

clean

innocuous

Correct answer:

innocuous

Explanation:

The contrast here is between being potentially deadly and healthy (or at least “not deadly”). Note, it is not a contrast between “clean and unclean” or “clean and dirty.” The word “innocuous” means “not harmful.” Being derived from the Latin for “harmful,” it is related to English words like “inoculate” and “noxious.” The “in-” prefix here means “not.”

Example Question #56 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

Todd would rarely approach his mother with requests, for he knew that his __________ father would rarely deny what he wanted.

Possible Answers:

irreverent

immature

unreflective

lenient

dunce

Correct answer:

lenient

Explanation:

The key thing to note in this sentence is that Todd’s father would rarely deny his requests. Therefore, the best option for the needed word is “lenient,” which means “permissive” or sometimes “forgiving.” Here, it is the first meaning that fits best. The word comes from the Latin for “mild or gentle” and is found in other English words like “leniency” and “lenitude.” (The latter, rather strange, word means “the characteristic of being lenient.” We could speak of “the lenitude of Todd’s father.”).

Example Question #57 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

Kevin was not known for making __________ arguments, for his sentences were often labyrinthine, obscure masses of confusion.

Possible Answers:

childish

vertiginous

unaccomplished

lucid

amazing

Correct answer:

lucid

Explanation:

The contrast here is between obscurity and clarity. When something or someone is “lucid,” he or she is able to express ideas or thoughts in a clear manner. The word actually comes from base words for “light,” which are found in English relatives like “lucent,” “translucent,” and even “Lucifer” (the so-called “light bearing angel” who later fell from grace, according to Christian tradition).

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