PSAT Critical Reading : Sentence Completions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #41 : Isee Upper Level (Grades 9 12) Verbal Reasoning

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

Although Odo had rarely expressed any dislike for any of his academic adversaries, he showed a surprising amount of __________ against Severinus when he wrote his latest book.

Possible Answers:

machinating

disgust

conspiring

animus

pettiness

Correct answer:

animus

Explanation:

The contrast here is between the rarity of Odo showing any dislike and a recent case that differed from this normal practice. When someone shows “animus,” he or she is said to show ill will or hostility. The word comes from the Latin for “soul” or “mind” as found in words like “animal” and “animated.”

Example Question #42 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

Choose the word that best completes the following sentence.

After decades of physically-mobile work, inspecting the corporation’s vast field operations, Edward found it quite difficult to adjust to the __________ work in an office cubicle.

Possible Answers:

sedentary

tedious

automated

boring

lax

Correct answer:

sedentary

Explanation:

The contrast that should be noted is that between the needed word and the fact that Edward’s former work was “physically-mobile.” In comparison with such work, his new work was “sedentary,” meaning that it was done while sitting. None of the other options captures the contrast as well as this option. The word “sedentary” is related to other “sitting” words such as “reside”, “preside,” “sedate,” and “resident.”

Example Question #43 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

The farmers bought more fertilizer for their fields this year, but the harvest was __________ due to an unexpected increase in pests.

Possible Answers:

plentiful

catastrophic

profuse

meager

exuberant

Correct answer:

meager

Explanation:

The word “but” will turn the direction of this sentence after the first clause. The phrase “due to an unexpected increase in pests” is another important clue. This tells us that the harvest was below expectations due to a negative circumstance. Therefore the correct answer is meager. Note: catastrophic is too strong a negative word in this case.

Example Question #41 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

Although the detective sought diligently for clues and pondered intensely over the mysteries of the case, he was dismayed that the solution continued to __________ him.

Possible Answers:

invoke

elude

enlighten

incriminate

suspect

Correct answer:

elude

Explanation:

The word “elude” means to escape or to avoid (in this case, the detective’s understanding). The word “although” contrasts the detective’s diligent efforts and his inability to solve the case. The only choice that makes sense is "elude." Beware of "incriminate" and "suspect," which were given to lead the test-taker astray. These words are related to the industry of detective work, but do not have the right meaning for the blank. 

Example Question #51 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

Geoffrey maintained a(n) __________ tone in the letter he sent the journalist, despite his anger at the libelous comments the journalist made.

Possible Answers:

urbane

equivocating

furious

boorish

condescending

Correct answer:

urbane

Explanation:

The correct answer is "urbane." The key word in this sentence is “despite,” indicating that the tone employed in Geoffrey’s letter was unexpected for the circumstance and quite the opposite of angry. Therefore, "urbane" (most closely synonymous with polite) is the best answer. "Equivocating" does not mean angry, but is not the best answer. "Condescending" and "boorish" are both tones that closely resemble anger and "furious" means angry, so none of these answer choices is correct either.

Example Question #52 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

The best part of being in the wilderness is how __________ it feels; it’s such a nice contrast to the stressful hustle and bustle of the city.

Possible Answers:

placid

insistent

replete

noxious

jocular

Correct answer:

placid

Explanation:

The correct answer is "placid." There are two hints in this sentence: the first is the word “best” indicating that the missing word will have a positive connotation (thus eliminating "noxious" and "replete"). The second key to this sentence is that the wilderness is contrasted to stress and motion, indicating that the wilderness is more calm and quiet. "Jocular" means neither "calm" nor "quiet."

Example Question #51 : One Blank Sentences

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

Fred is normally a belligerent individual behind the wheel, but he becomes even more __________ and aggressive when driving in heavy traffic.

Possible Answers:

demure

tranquil

vilified

contentious

complacent

Correct answer:

contentious

Explanation:

The correct word must be synonymous with both "belligerent" and "aggressive." Only "contentious" means wanting to fight.

Example Question #51 : Context Clues In One Blank Sentences

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

The student was gifted, but his academic progress was often __________ by his misbehavior in class.

Possible Answers:

broadened

enhanced

fortified

credited

nullified

Correct answer:

nullified

Explanation:

The structure of the sentence, with two clauses separated by the word "but," tells you that the student struggled even though he should not have. The correct answer choice will be one that effectively means to cancel out his academic progress. "Nullified," meaning neutralize or make unimportant, is the best answer choice.

Example Question #51 : Sentence Completion

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

The writer was often criticized for using __________ language and avoiding academic jargon or technical language.

Possible Answers:

verbose

colloquial

convoluted

highbrow

intellectual

Correct answer:

colloquial

Explanation:

The writer's avoidance of jargon and technical language is contrasted with the answer choice. Look for the answer that is an antonym to "technical" or "academic." "Colloquial," meaning informal and local and referring to language, is the best answer choice.

Example Question #56 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

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

The incumbent’s continual double-talk and __________ on important issues precipitated his defeat in the elections due to a loss of public trust.

Possible Answers:

vacillation

perspicacity

zeal

fortitude

perseverance

Correct answer:

vacillation

Explanation:

The correct answer is “vacillation,” which means indecision or wavering.  Thus, the incumbent’s double-talk and vacillation on important issues "precipitated" (or accelerated) his defeat in the elections. Notice the conjunction “and” connects the phrase “continual double-talk” with the missing word. From this, we know that the missing word has a negative connotation. "Fortitude," perspicacity," and "perseverance" each have a positive meaning, and thus can be eliminated when solving this question.

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