PSAT Critical Reading : Sentence Completions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #21 : Sentence Completions

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

Although Donald was not a great organ __________, his skills were quite adequate for the small church’s needs.

Possible Answers:

instructor

virtuoso

expert

authority

understudy

Correct answer:

virtuoso

Explanation:

The implication in the contrast formed in this sentence is that Donald does not have superior or extremely noteworthy skills at the organ (though he is adequate). A “virtuoso” is one who has great skills, particularly in artistic or musical areas, so this is better than “expert” for our purposes. The term is related to “virtue,” which is derived from the Latin “virtus,” meaning “strength” or “power.” This word came to be applied to virtue in the sense that we use the term insofar as virtue “empowers” one to act in a truly good manner.

Example Question #22 : Sentence Completions

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

Many of Francis’ college friends were amazed that he had settled down in a monogamous, married relationship, as he had been quite a __________ when they knew him in college.

Possible Answers:

drinker

philanderer

layabout

chauvinist

partier

Correct answer:

philanderer

Explanation:

By looking at the contrast established in this sentence, we can say that Francis must have been something of a womanizer or rather promiscuous during his college days. Such a person is called a “philanderer,” a term almost always applied to men.

This is in because of its literal meaning, “man of (many) love(s)” from “phil+anderer.” The “phil-” portion is found in words like “philosophy,” which means “love of wisdom,” and “Philadelphia,” “(the city of) brotherly love.” The second half comes from the Greek word for man and is found in English words like “android,” and “polyandry” (meaning “having many husbands”).

Example Question #21 : One Blank Sentences

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

Although Gina was quite a __________ personality, her brother was quite happy to avoid any prolonged social contact.

Possible Answers:

staunch

vivacious

sociopathic

recollected

gregarious

Correct answer:

gregarious

Explanation:

Since she is different than her brother (in this respect, at least), Gina must be happy and able in social company. Such a person is “gregarious”, a word that is derived from the Latin root “grex” (and “gregis”) for “flock.” This base has many related English words that likewise reflect this “multitude” or “flock,” such as “aggregation,” “congregation,” and “segregate.”

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 some found Vincent to be a bit aloof and odd, I personally found him to have an __________ manner that was amusing, if admittedly unconventional.

Possible Answers:

droll

jocund

risible

lighthearted

genial

Correct answer:

droll

Explanation:

One is considered to be “droll” if their actions are amusing because of their curious manner. The humor is not necessarily “side-splitting” in the sense of being boisterously humorous. In an older usage, the word “droll” means a jester (of sorts), and the word might be derived from roots meaning an imp or goblin. Even if this is not the case, we can add (for our vocabulary expansion) that the word “impish” means mischievous or (sometimes) odd or crafty.

Example Question #31 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

Although Leo did not like it when others __________ him, he accepted the commendation of his peers after he obviously accomplished a significant breakthrough in his research.

Possible Answers:

discussed

transcended

lauded

debated

greeted

Correct answer:

lauded

Explanation:

The key word is “commendation”, meaning praise; therefore, what Leo did not like (but did here accept) is “praise.” To be praised is to be “lauded,” a word derived from a Latin roots for to praise, which can be found in “laudatory” and “laudable.”

Example Question #31 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

After many years of traveling, Julian’s one-time provincial manners had developed a noticeably __________ character. With ease, he could travel from one culture to another without needing any appreciable time to adjust.

Possible Answers:

cosmopolitan

shifted

terrestrial

sundry

manifold

Correct answer:

cosmopolitan

Explanation:

The roots of “cosmopolitan” come from two Greek bases that you should know (at least indirectly). “Cosmo-” comes from the Greek “kosmos,” which means either order or (more appropriate for our usage) universe.

Related English words are “cosmic” and “cosmology.” The second half of the word comes from Greek roots meaning “city” and are found in English words like “political,” “polity,” and “politician.” One who is cosmopolitan is therefore one who lives as though the world were his or her city. Such a person is comfortable in many cultures and milieus.

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

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

After many months of winter dead colorlessness, the fields were once again alive and __________, teeming with the colors of a new spring.

Possible Answers:

well

vegetative

verdant

growing

thriving

Correct answer:

verdant

Explanation:

Spring colors are bright green, hence they are “verdant.” The word comes to us from the Latin word for green, but if you have had other modern languages, you should notice a similarity in the words used for green: “vert” in French, “verde” in Spanish, and “verde” in Italian.

Example Question #23 : Sentence Completions

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

After years of a simple life, Lucian’s new, __________ lifestyle was quite a change from his poor beginnings.

Possible Answers:

opulent

overstated

harried

lucrative

dramatic

Correct answer:

opulent

Explanation:

In contrast to his poor youth, Lucian’s lifestyle must have become rather wealthy. If something is “opulent” it is outwardly or obviously rich or luxurious. It comes from the Latin root “ops-,” which means either power / might or wealth / resources. It is related to the word “copious,” which means in abundance or great supply.

Example Question #31 : One Blank Sentences

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

The catch was so plentiful that there was a __________ of fish for the market, which was unable to sell all of the product.

Possible Answers:

surfeit

load

plurality 

colony

plantation

Correct answer:

surfeit

Explanation:

Since there is a plentitude of fish, we could say that there was a “surfeit,” which is an excessive amount of something. The prefix of the word is really an abbreviation of “super-”, which means “above.” The “-feit” portion is derived from the Latin “facere,” which means to do or make and is reflected in many English words like “fact,” “factory,” “artifact,” and so forth.

Example Question #32 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

In comparison to his rather __________ brother, Jonathan was particularly talkative and indeed droning.

Possible Answers:

loquacious

taciturn

relaxed

unconfident

understated

Correct answer:

taciturn

Explanation:

The key is that Jonathan is not like his brother; therefore, he is not talkative. While this might be described as “understated,” the most direct choice would be “taciturn.” This word means to be silent or reserved in speech. It is derived from the Latin tacere (and related words), which means to be silent or leave unmentioned. A related English word is “tacit.”

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