PSAT Critical Reading : Nouns and Adjectives or Adverbs in Two-Blank Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #41 : Nouns And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

The cat demonstrated its __________ by remaining __________ on the couch all day, never once getting up, only twitching its ears and tail and occasionally yawning widely.

Possible Answers:

energy . . . stationary

concern . . . anticipatory

lassitude . . . inert

laziness . . . zooming

anger . . . friendly

Correct answer:

lassitude . . . inert

Explanation:

We can infer from the sentence's context that we need to pick out a word for the first blank that means something like "laziness" or "tiredness" since we know that the cat didn't get off the couch all day. Either "lassitude" ("a state of physical or mental weariness; lack of energy") or "laziness" could be potentially correct answer choices. For the second blank, we need to pick out a word that means something like "not moving"; either "stationary" ("not moving or not intended to be moved") or "inert" ("very slow to move or act : sluggish") could be correct. Of the possible words that we've identified as potentially correct for each blank, only "lassitude" and "inert" appear in the same answer choice, so the correct answer is "lassitude . . . inert."

Example Question #1291 : Sentence Completion Questions

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

Sally had __________ about agreeing to go on a picnic with her friends in the desert on a day where the weather forecast predicted __________ temperatures rising into the nineties; she was worried that someone would pass out from dehydration or heat stroke.

Possible Answers:

congratulations . . . frigid

qualms . . . torrid

reservations . . . tepid

suggestions . . . brisk

plans . . . sweltering

Correct answer:

qualms . . . torrid

Explanation:

For the first blank, we know that Sally "was worried that someone would pass out from dehydration or heat stroke" on the picnic, so we can infer that she had worries about agreeing to go. So, we need to pick out an answer choice that means something like "worries." Either "qualms" ("uneasy feelings of doubt, worry, or fear, especially about one's own conduct; misgivings") or "reservations" ("qualifications to an expression of agreement or approval; doubts") could be potentially correct. For the second blank, we know that "the weather forecast predicted . . . temperatures rising into the nineties," so we can infer that the day was predicted to be very hot. So, we need to pick out an adjective that means something like "hot" to describe the weather. Either "torrid" (which can mean "very hot and dry") or "sweltering" ("uncomfortably hot") could be potentially correct. Of the potentially correct answers we've identified, only "qualms" and "torrid" appear in a single answer choice, so "qualms . . . torrid" is the correct answer.

Example Question #11 : Nouns And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

NASA’s attempt to put a man on the moon was considered __________ and wasteful by many contemporary scientists; but following the safe return of the astronauts, the scientists justly received near unanimous __________.

Possible Answers:

facile . . . solicitation

imperious . . . indulgence

audacious . . . adulation

redolent . . . criticism

flattering . . . acceptance

Correct answer:

audacious . . . adulation

Explanation:

This is a two-clause sentence with a blank in each clause. The use of the word “but” as the primary modifier means that the first blank must be different, most likely opposite, in tone from the second blank. Redolent means reminiscent of something and does not match as an opposite of criticism. Imperious means arrogant or disagreeable and works with the word “wasteful,” but does not match with the word indulgence (the act of gratifying something for someone). Flattering clearly does not match with wasteful. Facile means easy and is almost the opposite of wasteful. (Solicitation means to ask somebody for something). The only pair to match is audacious . . . adulation. Audacious refers to a bold or risky venture, and adulation means praise.

Example Question #12 : Nouns And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

Poets may speak of weeping stones and thoughtful clouds, but such __________ are only __________, attributing human characteristics to inanimate objects.

Possible Answers:

similes . . . devices

anthropomorphisms . . . metaphorical

expressions . . . lies

deceptions . . . tales

poems . . . prose

Correct answer:

anthropomorphisms . . . metaphorical

Explanation:

The key phrase in this sentence is “attributing human . . .” When we attribute human characteristics to non-human things, we express “anthropomorphisms.” The prefix “anthropo-” comes from the Greek word "anthropos" meaning human being. “Anthropology” is the study of human beings in their culture and physical constitution. The word “metaphorical” well describes such expressions. Do not be tempted by “simile.” Remember, similes are formed with “like” and “as,” neither of which are used in the examples.

Example Question #14 : Nouns And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

After years of living in a small hermitage, Alfric had become a very quiet, reflective man, although had been quite mentally __________ in his youth. Upon meeting him, his friends were surprised to see that he was such a __________.

Possible Answers:

anxious . . . ruminant

agitated . . . maverick

disturbed . . . monk

talkative . . . loner

distraught . . . saint

Correct answer:

anxious . . . ruminant

Explanation:

Almost all of the options for the first blank are somehow acceptable, so it is best to pay heed to the second blank’s options. What we know from the first sentence is that Alfric “had become a very quiet, reflective man.” A contemplative person can be called a “ruminant.” This use of the term, which is a valid use, is a metaphoric application of the strict meaning. Properly speaking a “ruminant” is an animal like a cow that chews on the rumen that is partially digested in the first chamber of its stomach. When applied to a person, that person is said to “chew” on their thoughts. This image of chewing on thoughts (thinking them over) was popular, for instance, in Christian monasticism, though it is applicable to any such reflective activity. The word “ruminate” is related to this usage, meaning “to think deeply and reflectively.”

Example Question #15 : Nouns And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

Grandmother Sylvia never spoke ill of anybody that she knew or did not know. This did not prevent her from making __________ remarks about others. She merely pronounced such views in carefully crafted __________.

Possible Answers:

offensive . . . euphemisms

understated . . . verbiage

snide . . . prevarications

judgmental . . . mischaracterizations

heinous . . . epigrams

Correct answer:

offensive . . . euphemisms

Explanation:

The key here is that Sylvia covered her remarks up. "Euphemisms" are indirect expressions that avoid what would be potentially offensive words. The word comes from two Greek bases. The prefix “eu-” means good and is seen in English words like “eulogy” (good speech, a speech that presents someone else well). The second half comes from “pheme,” meaning to speak, and is seen in English words like “blaspheme” or “blasphemy.”

Example Question #16 : Nouns And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

In giving advice to his friend, the naïve young man lisped a number of __________ that he had unquestioningly learned during his childhood. The friend was unconvinced by the __________ reasoning presented in defense of such purportedly profound moral “insights.”

Possible Answers:

legalities . . . distant

concoctions . . . lumbering

saws . . . lilting

platitudes . . . superficial

proverbs . . . meaningless

Correct answer:

platitudes . . . superficial

Explanation:

Platitudes are expressions that have been so overused that they really have no meaning—the “wisdom” that really is nothing but repetition of familiar remarks. At best, the reasoning behind the use of such expressions is “surface level deep” or “superficial,” which means lacking depth or profundity—literally “only on the top (super-) layer (-ficial).”

Example Question #11 : Nouns And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

The small mountain community was basically __________, for the surrounding mountains served as __________ preventing exit or entry.

Possible Answers:

stultified . . . barriers

rustic . . . walls

hermetic . . . obstructions

bucolic . . . vistas

pastoral . . . gateways

Correct answer:

hermetic . . . obstructions

Explanation:

If something is “hermetic” it is sealed totally—often in the sense of being air-tight, though (as in our sentence) it can mean that something is sealed from outside influences. If the mountains thus seal the community from outside world, they are “obstructions” in the way of potential passage.

Example Question #18 : Nouns And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

After many times of being duped by salesmen, Joseph learned to avoid such troubles by being extremely __________ when listening to any __________ made to the purchasing department of his business.

Possible Answers:

wary . . . proposals

thorough . . . hypocrisy

forceful . . . duplicity

thoughtful . . . lies

angry . . . dissimulations

Correct answer:

wary . . . proposals

Explanation:

Someone is "wary" when he or she shows caution in the face of any possibly dangerous situation. Given that he had been duped in the past, it makes sense that Joseph could be said to be wary; however, do not be fooled by the sentence into thinking there should be a negative sense to the second word. There is nothing that implies that any future converse will be negative—even if he is wary. All that we can say is that he is careful when any proposal comes to his company.

Example Question #19 : Nouns And Adjectives Or Adverbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

Elizabeth __________ observed every social rule that she had learned growing up, never permitting herself to commit even the mildest __________ of any dictate of these norms.

Possible Answers:

regularly . . . oversight

dolorously . . . disobedience

obviously . . . recanting

plainly . . . objection

scrupulously . . . infraction

Correct answer:

scrupulously . . . infraction

Explanation:

We cannot say if Elizabeth was “dolorous” in her observation of these rules; however, it is fair to say that obsessive care would lead one to avoiding the mildest breach of conduct; therefore, the best pair is “scrupulously . . . infraction.” (Note that “regularly” just is not quite as strong as “scrupulously”).

A scrupulous person is very attentive to details, often from a fear of doing anything wrong. An "infraction" is a violation. The word is related to other “-fring-” and “-fract-” words like “infringe,” “fracture,” and “fragile”—all related to “breaking” because of their common Latin roots.

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