PSAT Critical Reading : Two-Blank Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #7 : Nouns And Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

The _________ was ___________ on two sides by mountains, and a stream ran through it on the valley floor.

Possible Answers:

glen . . . enclosed

canyon . . . open

desert . . . exposed

ocean . . . bounded

peak . . . stationary

Correct answer:

glen . . . enclosed

Explanation:

For the first blank, we need to pick out a word that describes a topographical feature that can have "a stream [running] through it on the valley floor." Because of the mention of a valley, "peak" cannot be the correct answer, and because of the mention of a stream, neither "desert" nor "ocean" make sense. Either "glen" ("a narrow valley") or "canyon" ("a deep gorge, typically one with a river flowing through it) could be potentially correct. For the second blank, we know that there are mountains on either side of the land feature, so either "enclosed" ("closed in, surrounded") or "bounded" ("bound" meaning "form the boundary of; enclose") could be the correct answer. Of the possible words that we've identified as potentially correct for each blank, only "glen" and "enclosed" appear in the same answer choice, so the correct answer is "glen . . . enclosed."

Example Question #8 : Nouns And Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

When that mischievous __________ appeared in her eyes, he knew that they were going to get into trouble, no matter what steps he took to __________ such an outcome.

Possible Answers:

absence . . . resuscitate

color . . . preclude

resistance . . . maneuver

gleam . . . prevent

spark . . . encourage

Correct answer:

gleam . . . prevent

Explanation:

We can infer that for the first blank, we need to pick out a noun that means something like "look," because it is described as "mischievous" and it "appear[s] in her eyes." Either "gleam" ("of an emotion or quality: appear or be expressed through the brightness of someone's eyes or expression") or "spark" ("a trace of a specified quality or intense feeling") could be potentially correct. For the second blank, we need to pick out a verb that means something like "stop," because while the male subject "knew that they were going to get into trouble," he could not stop "such an outcome." Either "prevent" (" keep (something) from happening or arising") or "preclude" ("prevent from happening; make impossible") could be correct. Of the possible words that we've identified as potentially correct for each blank, only "gleam" and "prevent" appear in the same answer choice in the correct order, so the correct answer is "gleam . . . prevent."

Example Question #51 : Two Blank Sentences

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

Luckily, certain patients in the hospital were __________ and kept away from the others as soon as the doctors suspected that the disease that they were all suffering from could turn into a(n) __________ and infect everyone in the surrounding area if proper precautions were not taken.

Possible Answers:

isolated . . . benefit

insulted . . . prerequisite

quarantined . . . epidemic

merged . . . outbreak

meandered . . . lesson

Correct answer:

quarantined . . . epidemic

Explanation:

For the first blank, we know that the specified patients were "kept away from the others," so we need to pick out a verb that means something like "kept away from others." Either "quarantined" ("imposed isolation on (a person, animal, or place); put in quarantine") or "isolated" ("caused (a person or place) to be or remain alone or apart from others") could be correct. For the second blank, we need to pick out a noun that means something like "a contagious disease," because we know that "the doctors suspected that disease that they were all suffering from could . . . infect everyone in the surrounding area if proper precautions were not taken." Either "epidemic" ("a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time") or "outbreak" ("the sudden or violent start of something unwelcome, such as war or disease") could be correct. Of the possible words that we've identified as potentially correct for each blank, only "quarantined" and "epidemic" appear in the same answer choice, so the correct answer is "quarantined . . . epidemic."

Example Question #52 : Two Blank Sentences

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

The young and the cynical both give little __________ to new facts, and while the former are more apt than the latter to believe, both demand answers before __________ to a given assertion.

Possible Answers:

credence . . . assenting

reflection . . . accepting

obfuscation . . . progressing

thought . . . considering

discussion . . . agreeing

Correct answer:

credence . . . assenting

Explanation:

Both the young and the old (in this sentence at least) are not likely to believe. While there are differences, they both wait for answers before giving their belief to an assertion. The best words therefore, are “credence” and “assenting.”

The former is derived from the Latin credere, which means “to believe.” There are many English derivatives from this Latin base, such as “credible” and “creed.” “Assent” is derived from the Latin sentire meaning “to perceive” or “to feel.” It has the prefix “ad” (to / toward – as in “advance”), which becomes “as” when tagged onto “sentire.” There are many related words, not only using the prefix “ad” but likewise “sentire,” such as “sensitive,” “consent,” “consensual,” and “sentimental.”

Example Question #51 : Parts Of Speech In Two Blank Sentences

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

Each generation will __________ another; the world repeats its __________ until the end of time.

Possible Answers:

proliferate . . . livelihood

outpace . . . doldrums

deprecate . . . arrogance

rebuke . . . discourse

beget . . . circuit

Correct answer:

beget . . . circuit

Explanation:

Each generation brings forth a next generation, leading to the mentioned repetition. The best option is therefore “beget . . . circuit.” To “beget” means to bring forth often with the connotation of procreation. A “circuit” is a closed loop, therefore well filling the need of the second blank in this sentence.

Example Question #52 : Parts Of Speech In Two Blank Sentences

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

Brandon was never quite sure which of the temperaments his roommate would __________.  In spite of this, he cared deeply for the other man, whose self-presentation could be either frank or somewhat secretive, for these characteristics were not a mark of __________ but merely the result of a somewhat antisocial disposition.

Possible Answers:

decry . . . rashness

expose . . . exasperation

express . . . insanity

evince . . . duplicity

reveal . . . eruptions

Correct answer:

evince . . . duplicity

Explanation:

There is something of a play on words in this sentence. The roommate has two sides, and “duple” (and related words) imply twoness, hence “duplicity.” This likewise means—and this is closer to our usage here—being deceitful (as in being “two faced”). To “evince” is to reveal a reality. Such an act need not show a heretofore hidden reality. One’s (e.g.) body motions “evince” (in the sense of “giving evidence for”) one’s caring nature. 

Example Question #91 : Two Blank Sentences

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

Often, much time is wasted on an undertaking that would be significantly __________ if every intervening __________ were first removed.

Possible Answers:

decreased . . . complexity

expedited . . . impediment

eased . . . question

simplified . . . annoyance

enjoyed . . . exasperation

Correct answer:

expedited . . . impediment

Explanation:

Since the concern here is with removing something that seems to increase the time of an undertaking, such an intervening object is an “impediment,” which means an obstruction.  To “expedite” something is to make it occur more quickly. Both words come from the Latin word for “foot” (This is reflected in the “-ped-” portion of the stem, not to be confused with the “ped” in words like “pediatric” and “pediatrician,” which have different roots). An “impediment” is something placed on (im+) the foot (so to speak), and to “expedite” is to remove something from the foot or away from its path (at least taken literally).

Example Question #131 : Two Blank Sentences

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

After spending twenty years studying metaphysics, Stanley had barely begun to __________ the depths of his subject but instead had barely skimmed its __________.

Possible Answers:

consider . . . surface

contemplate . . . textbooks 

notice . . . texts

plumb . . . superfices

ponder . . . wonders

Correct answer:

plumb . . . superfices

Explanation:

To “plumb” something is to seek out its depths.  You might know from chemistry class that the element lead has a symbol Pb.  This comes from the Latin word “plumbum,” which was used for the element.  “To plumb” the depths of some body of water would be to tie a piece of lead to a string in order to see how deep it is.  The word “superfices” means “the surfaces” and is related to the word “superficial.” 

Example Question #132 : Two Blank Sentences

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

The whale-oil merchants in the small village had __________ much influence to themselves by means of their wealth.  This state of affairs was so significant that while the legal structures appeared to be purely democratic, in reality the village functioned as a kind of __________, with the merchants being the true ruling body.

Possible Answers:

garnered . . . plutocracy

embezzled . . . dictatorship

wheedled . . . mercantilism

stolen . . . decadence

grasped . . . despotism

Correct answer:

garnered . . . plutocracy

Explanation:

The merchants can be said to have gathered influence to themselves. For this reason, it might be tempting to choose “grasped;” however, the term “despotism” does not apply to this kind of political state of affairs. Perhaps you were tempted by “stolen” or even “wheedled,” but nothing in the sentence justifies these particular judgments. Also, their coupled words do not fit well grammatically. The word “garnered” means “to gather” and is therefore the best option. A “plutocracy” is a form of government run by the wealthy.  The prefix “pluto-” comes from the Greek “plutos” for “wealth.”

Example Question #41 : Parts Of Speech In Two Blank Sentences

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

During the __________, the people of the kingdom basically continued to live as though there were a still a king. When the new ruler __________ to the throne, they likewise continued living in a rather unchanged manner.

Possible Answers:

respite . . . deferred

conflict . . . ascended

interregnum . . . acceded

interlude . . . acquiesced

wartime . . . rose

Correct answer:

interregnum . . . acceded

Explanation:

The implication of the first sentence is that the kingdom was without a king for a period (though it continued to function as though it had one). We know not why this occurred, but there is no justification for choosing that this was a time of conflict. The best answer is “interregnum,” which means “period between rulers,” coming from “inter-,” meaning “between” and “-regnum,” meaning “rule.” The latter is related to words like “reign,” “regal,” and “regent.” When someone assumes a given position, he or she is said to “accede” to it. This is a second meaning of the term, which is literally derived from the Latin for “to give way to.” (The primary meaning of “accede” is therefore “to give way to or agree to a given demand or request”).

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