PSAT Critical Reading : Sentence Completions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #31 : Parts Of Speech In One Blank Sentences

The afternoon tea luncheon felt as though it were a ceremony with all its own trappings, from the carefully arranged saucers to the exquisite __________ worn by its participants.

Possible Answers:

gloves

hats

robes

fleeces

garb

Correct answer:

garb

Explanation:

The key word, of course, is “worn,” but you must be careful not consult any knowledge that you might have concerning tea party ceremonies. The sentence itself implies nothing specific about what exquisite items are worn by the participants; therefore, the best option is “garb,” which generally means “clothing,” though often implying that said clothing has a special use. This latter point makes the word even more appropriate for the sentence, though it is really the very general nature of “garb” that makes it more appropriate than any of the specific options.

Example Question #121 : Sentence Completions

Jeremiah seemed always to have a ___________ to declare against the injustices he detected among those in power.

Possible Answers:

question

problem

curse

grievance

hex

Correct answer:

grievance

Explanation:

Since Jeremiah detects injustices being done by those who are in power, the best description for his declarations would be “grievances.” A “grievance” is a reason that one has (perhaps completely in imagination, though perhaps also truly) for registering a complaint for being wronged or “aggrieved.”

Example Question #206 : Isee Upper Level (Grades 9 12) Verbal Reasoning

While, on one hand, too much activity will likely break down the body, it is likewise true, on the other, that too much __________ will break down the soul.

Possible Answers:

thoughtfulness

physicality

lechery

idleness

lust

Correct answer:

idleness

Explanation:

The opposition between the two sentences is between activity and something else. This can be detected by the parallel construction that speaks of one thing (“on the one hand”) breaking down the body and another (“on the other hand”) breaking down the soul; therefore, the best choice for an opposite to “activity” is “idleness.”

Example Question #124 : One Blank Sentences

After the death of his dear friend, Isaac was unable to shake his __________, feeling a perpetual state of sadness and depression.

Possible Answers:

melancholy

surprise

shock

disappointment

perplexity

Correct answer:

melancholy

Explanation:

The key expression is the participial clause “feeling a perpetual state of sadness and depression.” While Isaac might be described in terms of any of the options given for this sentence, this phrase clearly indicates that he was saddened. When someone experience “melancholy,” he or she is sad and thoughtful. The word comes from the old theories of the “humors” (or blood chemicals) that were believed to influence psychological dispositions. Melancholy was believed to be derived from too much “black bile.” Someone who was bad-tempered was called “choleric” or “bilious”—a surprising but understandable relation, given the connection to bile. The word “cholesterol,” literally means “stiff bile” (though that is an inadequate medical definition, of course).

Example Question #21 : Parts Of Speech In One Blank Sentences

Elaine held that the secret to maintaining her weight was mere ___________—neither dieting extremely nor binging on food in dire hunger.

Possible Answers:

judgment

moderation

calculation

naturalness

reflection

Correct answer:

moderation

Explanation:

The implication in the sentence is that Elaine’s diet was based on the principle of picking the “middle road” in consumption—not too much, not too little. Such a plan is one of “moderation,” meaning one of “avoiding extremes.” It is related to words pertaining to the “middle,” and we can see rather direct relatives in words like “moderator”—a person who is supposed to enable two (or more) opposing parties to discuss some matter by means of this “middle party.”

Example Question #31 : Parts Of Speech In One Blank Sentences

Gregory’s argument seemed reasonable to his friends, but his foes thought it was utterly __________.

Possible Answers:

lunacy

insanity

raving

unpredictable

irrationality

Correct answer:

irrationality

Explanation:

The key word for the opposition expressed here is “reasonable.” The best option must mean “unreasonable” and not merely something like “crazy” (as do many of the options). While the word “irrational” is often used to describe someone who is angry or uncontrolled, it primarily means “acting without reason” or (even more directly) “not rational.” The latter sense is directly evident when you see the “ir-” prefix, which here means “not,” and the base of the word “rational.”

Example Question #32 : Parts Of Speech In One Blank Sentences

The young swimmer had insisted that she was ready to jump off of the highest diving board, but when she had climbed all the way up and stood staring down at the water, she discovered she had a fear of heights and stood frozen at the base of the platform, filled with __________ that she would fall.

Possible Answers:

bias

ennui

eagerness

trepidation

rage

Correct answer:

trepidation

Explanation:

We know that the swimmer "discovered she had a fear of heights" at the top of the tall diving board, so we can infer that we need to pick out a word that describes an emotion and means something like "fear." While "rage," "ennui," "eagerness," and "trepidation" all describe emotions, only "trepidation" ("a feeling of fear or agitation about something that may happen") fits the context of the sentence. So, "trepidation" is the correct answer.

Example Question #33 : Parts Of Speech In One Blank Sentences

Although you might believe that you have revealed every __________ of your opinions, often, it is the case that your most basic beliefs are based upon unsaid premises.

Possible Answers:

mistake

bias

partiality

presupposition

agenda

Correct answer:

presupposition

Explanation:

The key expression here is “unsaid premises.” The thing that is believed to have been revealed would be such premises, which would be called “presuppositions.” The word literally means “things supposed before (something else).” Often, such things often are not spoken and are merely presumed without much reflection.

Example Question #34 : Parts Of Speech In One Blank Sentences

More extravagant, varied, and sizable than any other carnival in the United States, Zimbo’s Traveling Circus was often visited merely to see such a massive __________.

Possible Answers:

behemoth

amusement

operation

park

spectacle

Correct answer:

spectacle

Explanation:

This sentence is perhaps difficult, but pay attention to the role played by extravagance and the act of “seeing” done by those who come to the park. They come to see something that is quite impressive, even if there are no other reasons for them to come. When something is called a “spectacle,” it is something that is “quite a sight”—that is, an impressive sight. The word is related to words like “spectator” and “introspection,” as well as many other words implying “sight” in their “spect-” portion.

Example Question #215 : Isee Upper Level (Grades 9 12) Verbal Reasoning

Patrick had no __________ of the meaning of love, for he had never actually experienced it.

Possible Answers:

assessment

desire

reflection

conception

opinion

Correct answer:

conception

Explanation:

Although the sentence might seem strange, still it clearly states that Patrick had never experienced love at all; therefore, he cannot merely be said to have no opinion or assessment of it but instead must be said to have “no idea at all” concerning it. To this end, the word “conception” is the best option, for it can mean a “mental idea.” The word often is used to describe the process of becoming pregnant, but its older philosophical usage aligns more directly with the notion of the mind being united with the thing known, as is reflected in the literal translation from Latin: “to take (-ception) with (con-).”

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