PSAT Critical Reading : Sentence Completions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #35 : Parts Of Speech In One Blank Sentences

Odo showed his great __________ by courageously undertaking the seemingly impossible deed of saving the damsel Hrosthwitha from the flaming tower.

Possible Answers:

insanity

honor

fame

inanity

valor

Correct answer:

valor

Explanation:

Since the deed is described as being courageous, we know that Odo was not insane in his undertaking. Likewise, it does not make much sense to say that he showed his great fame or honor by undertaking the task, though he might have gained fame and honor thereby; therefore, “valor” is the best option, for it means “great courage” particularly when one has to face a dangerous situation. It comes from the Latin meaning “to be well, strong, or healthy” and is found in English words like “prevail,” “invalid,” and “valid.”

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

Although the country’s army was less trained and rather poorly equipped, the commander hoped to win the battle through __________, for his numerical advantage held promise of enabling him to outlast his foes.

Possible Answers:

superiority

excellence

patience

attrition

restraint

Correct answer:

attrition

Explanation:

The key word here is “outlast,” for it implies that the commander hoped to wear down his foes with time. Although this could be considered an act of “patience,” the more appropriate word here is “attrition,” which means “to wear down” something through continual action. It is derived from the Latin for “to rub or wear” and is found in words like “contrite,” “contrition,” and “detritus.”

Example Question #42 : Parts Of Speech In One Blank Sentences

The alien organism looked somewhat like a turtle, having developed a hard __________ to protect its most vulnerable innards.

Possible Answers:

skeleton

shield

carapace

skein

defence

Correct answer:

carapace

Explanation:

The best answer here is that which most closely describes a turtle’s defensive shell. The word “carapace” is a specific instance of external protective devices that some creatures have. While this is a defense or shield of types, the sentence’s comparison to the turtle makes “carapace” the best answer.

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

The tutor insisted that the best way to approach a math problem was to break down any complex statement into its simplest __________.

Possible Answers:

equivalences

equations

elements

functions

variables

Correct answer:

elements

Explanation:

Since the sentence is not general about the kind of math problem involved, the best answer will be that one which is most general. Therefore, the option “elements” best fits, for it can mean merely “the smallest part” of something, unable to be broken down any further. This can apply to anything, not merely the so-called chemical elements. All of the other options imply more specificity than is needed here.

Example Question #121 : One Blank Sentences

As he aged and became interested in his __________, Scott realized that he should have spent more time listening to the older family tales that his grandparents used to tell about relatives who were long dead.

Possible Answers:

descendants

breeding

progeny

ancestry

scions

Correct answer:

ancestry

Explanation:

Since Scott realizes that he should have listened to stories about previous generations, he is interested in those who preceded him, that is, his ancestors. Therefore, the best option is “ancestry” which applies to the generations that precede a person. The word literally means “those going before (someone).” The “cest-” portion is related to English words like “secede” (or “secession”) meaning “to go apart or away” (e.g. when the South seceded from the North during the Civil War). The “an-” prefix of “ancestry” comes from the Latin “ante-”, which means “before.” The word “antebellum” is often used to describe the southern states of the United States before the civil war. It literally means “before the war.”

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

After the war, the country experienced years of ___________ during which many services had to be cut to pay for the debts incurred during the war.

Possible Answers:

stagnation

recession

poverty

austerity

depression

Correct answer:

austerity

Explanation:

The only thing implied by this sentence is that the country experienced a reduction in certain services. While this might mean poverty or a bad economy, the closest word is “austerity,” which generally means “plainness” or “sternness.” When applied to government actions, it can carry the additional meaning of “cutting services.” Think of it as “making the government services plain or simpler.”

Example Question #53 : Parts Of Speech In One Blank Sentences

Although the __________ of the evidence centered on the events of the fateful night of the crime, there were several small but intriguing points gathered from preceding incidents.

Possible Answers:

presentation

explanation

bulk

remainder

legality

Correct answer:

bulk

Explanation:

The key word to the contrast is “several small” found in the main clause. This implies that most of the evidence was centered on the fateful night of the crime. The word “bulk” can mean “the majority” in addition to “a large mass.” It is therefore better than the other options, which do not reflect this contrast as well.

Example Question #54 : Parts Of Speech In One Blank Sentences

The __________ of Diane’s temperament was evinced by her refusal to change her position on even the smallest matters.

Possible Answers:

rigidity

irrationality

perturbation

insanity

irritation

Correct answer:

rigidity

Explanation:

Although Diane might be said to be insane or perhaps even irrational because of her refusal to change, we cannot go beyond this stated fact. Therefore, he is best described as being “rigid,” meaning that she is “unbending” or “inflexible” in the sense of not deviating from her positions. The word is related to “rigorous” and “rigorist.”

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

Reginald was so self-centered that his neighbors accused him of being a true ___________, for his actions indicated that he must believe that nobody else actually exists.

Possible Answers:

psychopath

solipsist

sycophant

narcissist

egoist

Correct answer:

solipsist

Explanation:

Here, the only way to choose the correct answer is to find the one that most directly matches the key expression “he must believe that nobody else actually exists.” While many of the options deal with “self-centeredness,” only “solipsist” means “someone who believes that only oneself can be known.” The word comes from the combination of the Latin “solus,” meaning “alone” and “ipse,” an intensifying pronoun meaning “him/her/itself.” The first can be found in words like “solitary” and “solitude.” The latter can be found in odd English words like “ipseity,” meaning “selfhood,” as well as the Latin expression used in legal parlance, “res ipsa loquitur,” meaning, “The thing (event, data) speaks for itself.”

Example Question #55 : Parts Of Speech In One Blank Sentences

Soon after the birth of children, mammalian mothers begin the process of __________, providing milk to feed their new babes.

Possible Answers:

mollifying

parenting

lactation

succoring

ovulation

Correct answer:

lactation

Explanation:

The explicit statement in the sentence refers to the production of milk. Therefore, the option “lactation” is the best answer, for this is the word for the secretion of milk from a mammalian mother to its child. The “lact-” prefix comes from the Latin for milk and is found in English words like “lactose,” a type of sugar found in milks and “lactic acid,” which is found in sour milk but also in the body after exercise, causing soreness.

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