PSAT Critical Reading : Sentence Completions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #83 : Parts Of Speech In Two Blank Sentences

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

The __________ university had very __________ requirements for admission in order to maintain its prestige.

Possible Answers:

empirical . . . rigorous

preeminent . . . insidious

abysmal . . . exacting

illustrious . . . stringent

eminent . . . malleable

Correct answer:

illustrious . . . stringent

Explanation:

A prestigious school is well thought of and thus has difficult admissions barriers. Thus, both answers must reflect positively on the school; therefore "eminent . . . malleable" and "preeminent . . . insidious" can be removed on the basis of their negative and unstable admissions requirements. Assuming that admission is difficult because the prestigious school is of high caliber, the school could not be "abysmal." The last incorrect choice does not relate to positive or negative qualities of a university at all, in that "empirical" relates to data.

Example Question #374 : Two Blank Sentences

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

The virus was so __________ and deadly that it quickly spread throughout the entire country; in a matter of months, most of the major cities were __________.

Possible Answers:

virulent . . . depopulated

salutary . . . quarantined

noxious . . . growing

benign . . . emptied

caustic . . . expanding

Correct answer:

virulent . . . depopulated

Explanation:

The correct answer refers to the dangerous nature of the virus ("virulent") as well as how the cities were adversely affected by it as a result ("depopulated"). The wrong answers only address one of these two; they either claim that the virus is helpful ("salutary") or not overly harmful ("benign") or that the cities were aided ("expanding" and "growing") by the virus.

Example Question #1701 : Sentence Completion

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

Because Frank wrote the book in the __________ style he uses in his academic writing, the casual audience it was aimed at believed that it was unnecessarily __________.

Possible Answers:

highfalutin . . . arcane

grandiloquent . . . facile

unadorned . . . recondite

aureate . . . unembellished

prosaic . . . complicated

Correct answer:

highfalutin . . . arcane

Explanation:

The correct answer points to the complex nature of the writing that the author usually uses in his academic writing ("highfalutin") and how it made it overly difficult for an average person to understand ("arcane"). The incorrect answers fail to work in both categories; either they assert that the writing is not highbrow ("prosaic" and "unadorned") or that the audience believes that the book is too simple ("unembellished" and "facile").

Example Question #1702 : Sentence Completion

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

The famous supermodel was considered stunningly __________, but Dave was more interested in the cute and _________ girl next door.

Possible Answers:

corpulent . . . prompt

nefarious . . . lavish

pulchritudinous . . . comely

redoubled . . . solicitous

inscrutable . . . awakened

Correct answer:

pulchritudinous . . . comely

Explanation:

The use of the word “but” indicates that the meaning of the second word must be opposite, or at least different, to the meaning of the first word. You also know that the first blank must be a description of a stunning quality attributed to the famous supermodel, and that the second blank must be similar in meaning to cute. The word "pulchritudinous" refers to great beauty, and "comely" is a synonym for cute. "Corpulent" means fat, and "prompt" means on time; "inscrutable" means mysterious; "nefarious" refers to doing evil, and "lavish" means fancy or expensive; "redoubled" means to increase, and "solicitous" means to be concerned.

Example Question #1361 : Sentence Completions

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

The __________ investor had an __________ record of success; his portfolio always made money.

Possible Answers:

meticulous . . . impecunious

shrewd . . . imperfect

dim-witted . . . irate

canny . . . impeccable

incompetent . . . exacerbating

Correct answer:

canny . . . impeccable

Explanation:

"Canny" means shrewd and careful, while "impeccable" means flawless and exemplary. An investor with an always profitable portfolio would certainly be very shrewd.

Example Question #1362 : Sentence Completions

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

Although the army only recently had suffered its only defeat, the damage they suffered was so __________ that they no longer had any delusions that they were __________.

Possible Answers:

noteworthy . . . exceptional

gory . . . pristine

forthright . . . supernal

extensive . . . invincible

devastating . . . marital

Correct answer:

extensive . . . invincible

Explanation:

The best way to approach this sentence is to consider the options for the second word. The option “devastating, marital” might seem acceptable if you happen to let your eyes glide over the second word too quickly. The word “marital” is not “martial,” which would seem to be acceptable (meaning “pertaining to war”). Even if it were that word, it would still be unacceptable, but “devastating” does match well for the first blank, thus making it a tempting option. Do not be deceived! The best option is “extensive, invincible,” particularly given that the army apparently can no longer think that they cannot be defeated. Therefore, they cannot think themselves to be “invincible.”

Example Question #1705 : Sentence Completion

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

The __________ terrorist refused to compromise on his demands; the __________ stand-off left the authorities with few options.

Possible Answers:

intransigent . . . intractable

satisfied . . . relieved

ameliorated . . . tolerable

amenable . . . unmanageable

responsive . . . impossible

Correct answer:

intransigent . . . intractable

Explanation:

"Intransigent" means refusing to compromise, while "intractable" means difficult to manage or unmanageable. Refusing to compromise on his demands, the terrorist made the stand-off unmanageable for the authorities, taking away their options.

Example Question #1706 : Sentence Completion

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

In the waning years of his life King Henry VIII, once a healthy and ­­­__________ leader, became slovenly and __________.

Possible Answers:

disdainful . . . wasteful

neglectful . . . meticulous

regal . . . corpulent

erratic . . . regressive

boorish . . . tempered

Correct answer:

regal . . . corpulent

Explanation:

This sentence provides several clues to help you identify the correct answer. Firstly, you know that the first blank must match the attitude of the word healthy and the second black must match the attitude of the word slovenly. Secondly, the second blank must be different (most likely opposite) in meaning to either healthy or the first blank. Erratic means inconsistent and regressive means reverting to a less developed condition. The second blank could perhaps fit, but the first blank does not match with what we know about the sentence. Likewise, for boorish, which means ill-mannered, and tempered, which means a measured response. If those two blanks were the other way around the sentence might work. Neglectful (failing to care for something) and meticulous (showing extreme care and precision) could also work if the blanks were the other way around. Disdainful (disrespectful) and wasteful are not opposites. That leaves regal and corpulent as the only possible answer. Regal refers to the condition of royalty and fits comfortable with a description of a healthy King Henry VIII; corpulent describes someone who is fat and works well with the changing nature of King Henry’s health.

Example Question #2621 : Sat Critical Reading

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

The farmer surveyed his plot of land, convinced the __________ soil would deliver a __________ harvest.

Possible Answers:

arid . . . copious

fertile . . . insubstantial

healthy . . . useless

fecund . . . bountiful

dismal . . . generous

Correct answer:

fecund . . . bountiful

Explanation:

"Fecund" means fruitful and fertile, while "bountiful" means generous, plentiful, copious. A farmer who surveyed a fertile plot of land would certainly expect it to deliver a generous crop.

Example Question #1708 : Sentence Completion

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

The funeral of Margaret Thatcher was a __________ and respectful occasion for the majority of the British population; however there was a large minority, particularly over the internet, who commented __________ and distastefully on her life.

Possible Answers:

terse . . . succinctly

audible . . . wistfully

somber . . . sardonically

notorious . . . dramatically

concise . . . quiescently

Correct answer:

somber . . . sardonically

Explanation:

The use of the word “however” to begin the second clause suggests that the meaning of the second part of the sentence is different from and most likely opposite to the meaning of the first sentence. Additionally, you know that the first blank must refer to a common feeling at a funeral, and the second blank must closely resemble the meaning of the word “distastefully.” The best match for the first blank is "somber," which means having a serious and melancholy atmosphere, and the word that most closely matches with "distastefully" is "sardonically," which means in the manner of sarcastic commentary. These answers best fit with the context of the sentence. As for the other answer choices, "terse" means short and concise and "succinctly" means expressed with brevity; "concise" means expressing meaning using few words and "quiescently" means in a manner that is at rest; "audible" means able to be heard, and "wistfully" refers to doing something in the manner of looking back with sadness to a better past; and "notorious" means famous for bad deeds.

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