PSAT Critical Reading : Two-Blank Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #2112 : Psat Critical Reading

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

The bishop wanted to __________ the expansion of the heretical __________ in the rural areas. If it could be stopped there, it would likely fade out of existence in the cities.

Possible Answers:

persecute . . . group

prosecute . . . dissidents

quarter . . . renegades

lambast . . . fools

arrest  . . . sect

Correct answer:

arrest  . . . sect

Explanation:

The second sentence indicates that the bishop wishes to stop the movement.  It does not indicate any desire to persecute.  The word “arrest” might seem, at first glance, to carry the same negative, “persecuting” sense as some of the other options, but the word likewise can mean “to stop” as in the usage “arrested development” to describe someone who is stunted with regard to some kind of growth.  A “sect” is group differentiated by their beliefs, often with a negative connotation in regard to an accepted orthodoxy.

Example Question #2113 : Psat Critical Reading

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

When the __________ began sweating, his guilt __________ itself for everyone in the courtroom to see.

Possible Answers:

suspect . . . allocated

defendant . . . concealed

barrister . . . allayed

litigant . . . manifested

analgesic . . . revealed

Correct answer:

litigant . . . manifested

Explanation:

A "litigant" is someone involved in a lawsuit, while to "manifest" means, in this instance, to show plainly. Arguably, a sweating and presumably nervous litigant would reveal himself to be guilty.

Example Question #2114 : Psat Critical Reading

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

Othmar’s fame was barely beginning to __________, and many people anticipated many more years of increasing __________.

Possible Answers:

change . . . notoriety

wane . . . popularity

wax . . . renown

ferment . . . influence

register . . . voracity

Correct answer:

wax . . . renown

Explanation:

The sense of the sentence communicates that Othmar’s fame is increasing. When something “waxes,” it is increasing in size or intensity. The word is normally used to describe the increasing of lunar light as the moon becomes larger (at least in its visibility, that is). This primary usage is often transferred in order to describe the growing of things other than the moon. The opposite term (i.e. the term for decreasing lunar light exposure) is “wane.”

The second word, “renown,” means fame, particularly in the sense of being discussed by many people. It is derived from roots related to words like “nominate” and “nominal”—words that have to deal with the notion of names (the “nom-” root).

Example Question #71 : Two Blank Sentences

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

For years upon years, the people grew ever more tired under the reign of the tired old king, who refused to alter the power structure even in his aging __________. At last, in a sudden turn of events, he __________ from his rule and granted the kingship to his heir.

Possible Answers:

dotage . . . abdicated

conditioned . . . absconded

confusion . . . tyrannized

lineaments . . . weaseled

narcolepsy . . . perished

Correct answer:

dotage . . . abdicated

Explanation:

As one ages (and becomes tired), they can be said to be in a state of “dotage,” meaning that they are old and weak. To step down from rule is to “abdicate” from it.

Example Question #72 : Two Blank Sentences

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

Because of his thick skin, the director was hardly __________ by the __________ of criticism he faced for his controversial film.

Possible Answers:

fazed . . . barrage

distrusted . . . lack

unaffected . . . flood

pleased . . . dearth

impacted . . . waive

Correct answer:

fazed . . . barrage

Explanation:

We are told that the director's reaction is due to his thick skin, which tells us that there is some substantial criticism (so we can rule out "dearth," or lack) and that he is not overly-affected by it (so we can cross out "unaffected," because if he is "hardly unaffected," the double negative (as in math) would mean that he was, in fact, quite affected by the criticism. The "impacted . . . waive" option would work if the second word were the noun "wave" instead of the verb "waive," which means to give something up willingly. We are left with "fazed" (affected) and "barrage" (an onslaught or flood).

Example Question #1 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

In order to __________ the techniques in the professional artist's painting, she needed to __________ the painting's details.

Possible Answers:

obliterate . . . discern

emulate . . . scrutinize

efface . . . fathom

supplant . . . dismiss

apprehend . . . overlook

Correct answer:

emulate . . . scrutinize

Explanation:

The key to this sentence is the fact that the original painting is done by a professional artist; the painting is presumably well done. Thus, if you wanted to mimic or emulate the painting, you would need to look at it closely or scrutinize it.

Example Question #2 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

Despite having __________ a few treasures in his day, the thief could not __________ his nephew's decision to follow in his footsteps and pursue the same profession; he just didn't want to see his nephew get into any trouble with the law.

Possible Answers:

finagled . . . condone

returned . . . approve of

frozen . . . narrow

opined . . . market

purloined . . . determine

Correct answer:

finagled . . . condone

Explanation:

For the first blank, we need to pick out a word that means something like "steal," because we know that the sentence concerns a "thief" and thieves are likely to steal treasures. Either "finagled" ("obtained something by devious or dishonest means") or "purloined" ("stole something") could be potentially correct. For the second blank, we know that the thief does not approve of his nephew's decision to become a thief, because "he just didn't want to see his nephew get into any trouble with the law." So, we need to pick out a verb that means something like "support," because we know that the thief could not support his nephew's decision. Either "condone" ("accept and allow behavior that is considered morally wrong or offensive to continue") or "approve of" could be potentially correct. Of the possible words that we've identified as potentially correct for each blank, only "finagled" and "condone" appear in the same answer choice, so the correct answer is "finagled . . . condone."

Example Question #3 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

Pick the best pair of words to complete the sentence.

He __________ cupcake upon cupcake into the box, __________ a mess of icing.

Possible Answers:

stacked . . . creates

heaps . . . generating

places . . . tidying

overturns . . . internalizing

throws . . . scraping

Correct answer:

heaps . . . generating

Explanation:

The verbs in this sentence need to make sense in each other's context—so, although "to stack" and "to create" have the proper meaning, they are not grammatically sound options. Out of the rest of the possible answers, "heaps . . . generating" makes the most sense, since it means to put the cupcakes in a pile and then create a mess.

Example Question #4 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

Answer the following sample question. Select the word or pair of words that most correctly completes the sentence.

 

The lawyer advised Jane to __________ the terms of the rental contract, but not to __________ her duties as a landlord.

Possible Answers:

glean; pander

harbinger; oscillate

nullify; eschew

wane; incite

usurp; procrastinate

Correct answer:

nullify; eschew

Explanation:

"Nullify" means to negate or make invalid. "Eschew" means to avoid or dodge a responsibility or duty. "Usurp" means to take over or seize. "Procrastinate" means to put off doing something. "Wane" means to decline or dwindle. "Incite" means to provoke or agitate. "Harbinger" means to herald or give a prior indication. "Oscillate" means to move in a side-to-side motion. "Glean" means to gather or collect in a gradual manner. "Pander" means to provide what someone wants even though it may not be preferable.

Example Question #5 : Two Verbs In Two Blank Sentences

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

After his extended period of bed rest in the hospital, Gregor realized that his muscles had _________ when it was surprisingly difficult for him to walk without quickly __________ his energy.

Possible Answers:

atrophied . . . depleting

capitulated. . . gleaning

provoked . . . kindling

rescinded . . . exhausting

deteriorated. . . bolstering

Correct answer:

atrophied . . . depleting

Explanation:

Since we can infer that Gregor's muscles became weaker during his stay in the hospital, we need to pick out a verb for the first blank that means something like "became weaker." Either "atrophied" (significantly weakened due to lack of use) or "deteriorated" (worsened) could be correct. For the second blank, we know that Gregor was probably losing energy quickly as he walked if he had weak muscles, so we need to pick out a verb that means losing. Either "depleting" (using up the available amount of) or "exhausting" (extremely tiring) could work. Of the four words we've identified as possibly correct answers, only two line up in a single answer choice: "atrophied" and "depleting." So, "atrophied . . . depleting" is the correct answer.

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