PSAT Critical Reading : Sentence Completions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Sentence Completions

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

Although one can live without a gallbladder, the heart is a __________ organ for survival.

Possible Answers:

choleric

choleric

internal

original

cardiac

original

internal

cardiac

vital

Correct answer:

vital

Explanation:

Yes indeed, the heart is "cardiac"—the only "cardiac" (associated with the heart) organ in the body. This is not very informative. The same goes for "internal." The sentence clearly wants to set up an opposition between the gallbladder and the heart. You can tell this by the use of the word "although." The gallbladder is not absolutely necessary—you can live without it. The implication is that the heart is necessary. Something is "vital" when it has such necessity, particularly for living. (The word comes from Latin roots related to "life.")

Example Question #11 : Sentence Completion

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

To the untrained eye, the gadget appeared to be a single machine when, in fact, it was ___________ of a number of interrelated ones.

Possible Answers:

confounded

contracted

finalized

bombarded

compounded

Correct answer:

compounded

Explanation:

Often, the best approach to a sentence is to try to "fill in the blank" yourself. For this question, consider the fact that the two halves are contrasted. The gadget appeared to be one, single machine. In fact, it actually was "made up" of a number of interrelated ones. The idea is that it was a group of machines, gathered together and interrelated. When you compound things, you mix together (and generally connect) various elements. To "confound" is to cause confusion—don't be confused by this expression of confusion! The other options are likewise quite inappropriate for the purposes of this sentence.

Example Question #11 : Isee Upper Level (Grades 9 12) Verbal Reasoning

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

Although she was excellent at writing metered verse, Flavia also had an excellent __________ style.

Possible Answers:

rhetorical

prose

didactic

essay

writing

Correct answer:

prose

Explanation:

The contrast here is between the types of style under discussion. In the introductory clause, we are discussing Flavia’s ability to write "verse"—poetry. The passage implies that she also had an excellent “non-poetic” style. Prose writing is non-metered writing, and this is the best contrast to “metered verse.” “Writing” is too general, “didactic” means for teaching purposes, and even “essay” does not contrast to “meter” as directly as the word “prose" does.

Example Question #11 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

Gilbert never was comfortable with the __________ lifestyle that his brother lived, for they had been brought up in much simpler and poorer conditions, being taught to be thrifty with their resources.

Possible Answers:

arrogant

destitute

indigent

superficial

posh

Correct answer:

posh

Explanation:

The contrast in this sentence is between the “simpler and poorer” conditions of the brothers’ childhood and that of Gilbert’s brother today. Indigence and destitution are extreme poverty, so these options are not at all opposite. While stereotypes might tempt us to think of the rich as being "arrogant," we must not go beyond the direct meaning of the sentence. “Posh” describes a luxurious manner of living, and this well contrasts with the brothers’ upbringing.

Example Question #21 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

Although few people believe in many corporeal __________ like our ancestors, still those believing in only one god often speak as though he were a physical being in the world.

Possible Answers:

characters

legends

personalities

deities

stories

Correct answer:

deities

Explanation:

The contrast in this sentence is between one god and many gods. Our blank is not necessarily about ancient legends. Indeed, it makes little sense to speak of “corporeal” (bodily) stories. The word “deity” means god or god-like being. Words like “deify” (to make into a god) or “theology” (the study of god) are related to “deity.” Therefore, the sentence is speaking of our ancestors believing in many gods—or, many “deities."

Example Question #21 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

Few people speak of the “souls” of plants, but Aristotle believed that such beings must be __________ in some manner, for they exhibit self-motion not found in lifeless beings like rocks.

Possible Answers:

differentiated

animated

spiritual

exalted

betokened

Correct answer:

animated

Explanation:

The two key descriptors used in this sentence are “exhibit self-motion” and “not found in lifeless beings.” To be “life-filled” and to be “self-moving” is to be “animated.” The word “animated” actually comes from the Latin "anima," meaning soul. We often use the word to describe moving cartoons or perhaps someone who is very active in expressing himself or herself—as in, “He discussed the topic in an animated manner, flailing his hands about in excitement.”

Example Question #1431 : Sat Critical Reading

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

In comparison with the daring tastes and hobbies of his wife, John found enjoyment in much more __________ pleasures.

Possible Answers:

rustic

bucolic

suburban

pedestrian

rural

Correct answer:

pedestrian

Explanation:

Normally, we use the word “pedestrian” to mean one who is walking instead of driving in a city. The roots of the word would lead us to think this as well, for “pedestrian” is derived from the Latin for “foot,” found in other words like “pedal” and “pedicure;” however, as an adjective, the word can mean “unexciting” or “uninteresting.” Since John is being contrasted with his wife, who has “daring tastes and hobbies,” he must be somewhat unexciting and dull—rather pedestrian.

Example Question #21 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

In comparison with his rather svelte siblings, Tilghman’s __________ form struck a significant visual contrast.

Possible Answers:

sizeable

corpulent

gangly

grandiose

extruded

Correct answer:

corpulent

Explanation:

The contrast in this sentence is between Tilghman’s “svelt” siblings and himself. If someone is “svelt,” he or she is slender; therefore, if he is not svelt, Tilghman must be fat or “corpulent,” which means the same.

The word is derived from an almost identical Latin root that means the same and is more distantly derived from the Latin for “body” found in words like “corpse,” “incorporation,” and “corporeal.”

Example Question #22 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

Frowin’s two brothers were quite extreme in their temperaments, one being quite dolorous, while the other was exceedingly cheerful; for his part, Frowin was something of a __________ between these two, seeming to avoid either extreme by a judicious balance.

Possible Answers:

pivot

mean

tranquility

hing

fulcrum

Correct answer:

mean

Explanation:

The sense here is that Frowin occupies a “middle position” between these two, balancing their characteristics. The “mean” of a series of numbers is the average. The term is often used to describe any type of average between two or more things.

Example Question #23 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

Randall had long kept the many dogs together in one location in the animal shelter; however, recent events had led him to decide to __________ the large dogs from the small ones.

Possible Answers:

remove

differentiate

revoke

position

segregate

Correct answer:

segregate

Explanation:

The sense of the sentence is that Randall wishes to separate the large dogs from the small ones. The word “segregate” best implies separation of this sort. It literally means “to gather apart (or into parts).”

The prefix “se-” here implies the parts or “apart,” while the “-gregate” is derived from the Latin for “flock,” a root found in “congregation” and “gregarious.”

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