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 #721 : Sentence Completions

The course of studies was extremely __________, requiring many hours of study every night.

Possible Answers:

tiring

exhaustive

overwhelming

rigorous

exhausting

Correct answer:

rigorous

Explanation:

The word rigorous can mean “thorough” but it can likewise mean “demanding.” The other options for this sentence to express difficulty in the course but likewise imply additional content like “tiring” or “being to much” (e.g. overwhelming). The word “rigorous” comes from the Latin for “stiffness” and here means “demanding” in the sense of being “stiff and unbending” in the pursuit of a goal.

Example Question #74 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

While many people are interested in the effects of a given action, it is often enlightening to consider the nature of its __________ causes as well.

Possible Answers:

metaphysical

following

regular

physical

antecedent

Correct answer:

antecedent

Explanation:

The contrast here is between effect and cause, that is between things “coming after” and things “coming before” an event. Since our sentence does not speak of specific kinds of causes or even their regularity, the best adjective will be one that merely expresses the fact that causes “come before” a given event. The word “antecede” literally means “going before.” The prefix “ante” means “before” and is found in the English “antechamber,” meaning a small room that is “before” another room (and in which people are often first received as guests). Also, it is found in “antebellum” which literally means “before the war” and is often used to describe the southern United States before the American Civil War.

Example Question #81 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

The serious old man judged most displays of sentimental emotion to be ___________ excesses.

Possible Answers:

cowardly

maudlin

unmanly

feminine

effeminate

Correct answer:

maudlin

Explanation:

Since the sentence speaks neither of effeminacy nor of cowardliness, the best option is “maudlin.” The word means “sentimental” with the negative sense being “self-pitying” and perhaps induced by drunkenness. This negative implication suffices for this sentence, for it implies that the old man judged such displays in a negative light.

Example Question #82 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

Upon reaching his eightieth birthday, Anatol made the __________ observation, “I have entered the decade of my death.”

Possible Answers:

startling

adroit

remarkable

condescending

morbid

Correct answer:

morbid

Explanation:

The only thing that is said about Anatol’s remark is that it concerns his perception of the proximity of his death. While this remark might seem startling or perhaps remarkable (for many people may not think of such things), the best description is “morbid.” A morbid person often focuses on unhappy subjects, often death. The word itself is related to Latin root words for disease, though we often associate the “morb-” prefix with another Latin root, namely “mort-” for death. Remember that “morb-” is directly concerned with disease.

Example Question #83 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

The __________ words of the preacher were among the most beautifully constructed sentences that his listeners had ever heard.

Possible Answers:

rhetorical

recited

bombastic

enunciated

mellifluous

Correct answer:

mellifluous

Explanation:

The best option is that which indicates the beauty of the words spoken by the preacher. The word “mellifluous” means “beautiful and pleasing to hear.” The word literally means “flowing with honey,” so it at times can have the meaning of “sweet sounding.” The “mel-” prefix is derived from the Latin for honey and can be found in the rare English word “melliferous,” which means “producing honey.”

Example Question #86 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

One can only remain __________ before great evils for so long; inevitably, one must choose sides for or against horrible atrocities.

Possible Answers:

restrained

placid

neutral

tranquil

calm

Correct answer:

neutral

Explanation:

The key expression here is “one must choose sides for or against.” The contrast implied in the sentence is between one who does not take such sides and one who does do so. When someone does not have a preference for either side of a conflict or controversy, he or she is said to be “neutral.” (A neutral person need not be calm or tranquil, though often this can be the case.) The word comes from the Latin word describing a gender in the Latin language, namely the neuter gender. Many non-English modern European languages still have the masculine and feminine genders for their nouns. Languages like Latin and Greek also had another option, the neuter gender. Being neither masculine nor feminine, it was rather neutral on the matter of gender!

Example Question #84 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

Mildred’s acts may not have been immoral in a strict sense, but given that she did ignore the regulations in force, they could be considered __________.

Possible Answers:

facetious

egregious

illicit

unacceptable

appalling

Correct answer:

illicit

Explanation:

Since Mildred’s actions are implied to have been against the regulations, they are illegal even if someone wants to argue that they are not immoral. Something “illicit” is literally something “against the law.” The “il-” prefix is a negative prefix applied to the base “-licit,” which means “lawful.” The latter is related to words like “license” and “licentiate.”

Example Question #85 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

Joseph finally concluded that all his efforts were doomed to be __________, for after hundreds of attempts, it seemed certain that he was incapable of accomplishing his goals.

Possible Answers:

thwarted

aggravating

frustrating

inefficacious

defeated

Correct answer:

inefficacious

Explanation:

Since it seemed that Joseph could not accomplish his goals, it can be said that his efforts would not be “effective” or (more exactly) “efficacious” (meaning “successful or able to produce and effect”). We cannot say that they are either thwarted or frustrating. The sentence merely speaks of him being incapable; therefore, the best option is the negation of “efficacious”: “inefficacious.”

Example Question #86 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

Instead of quitting in despair, David decided to face the coming difficult month with a __________ attitude, convinced that he could thus overcome the hardships through his determination.

Possible Answers:

resolute

conceited

pollyanna

presumptuous

haughty

Correct answer:

resolute

Explanation:

The key word here is “determination,” for it describes David’s overall attitude. When someone is “resolute,” he or she is fixedly determined to do something. When one makes a “resolution,” he or she fixes that resolution as a goal. Traditionally, people make “new year’s resolutions” as goals for the coming year.

Example Question #87 : Adjectives And Adverbs In One Blank Sentences

Watching the stars from his windows every night and reading about constellations during the day, Omer was deeply interested in all things __________.

Possible Answers:

celestial

ethereal

planetary

unearthly

scientific

Correct answer:

celestial

Explanation:

Omer could be said to have an interest in “the heavens.” The word “celestial,” is an adjective meaning “concerning heavenly bodies” or “concerning the things of space.” It is derived from the Latin word for “heavens” or “skies.” The instrument called “the celeste” is so named because of its “heavenly” sound.

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