PSAT Critical Reading : Sentence Completions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #91 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

Choose the word that best completes the following sentence.

In opposition to the labyrinthine prose of Hegel, the passage from Sokolowski was refreshing for its __________.

Possible Answers:

honesty

passivity

opacity

lucidity

density

Correct answer:

lucidity

Explanation:

When something is “lucid” it is clear and bright—like light. Indeed, the word comes from the Latin word for light, which is found in other words like "translucent" and "pellucid." To say that something is “labyrinthine” is to say that it is like a maze. The implication is that Hegel’s writing style is as difficult to read as a maze is to navigate. In contrast to this, Sokolowski’s style must have been clear—that is, it was "lucid."

Example Question #1001 : Psat Critical Reading

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

Although many ancient cultures envisioned their deities as though they had bodies, some groups concluded that such beings must instead be __________.

Possible Answers:

celestial

invisible

hidden

incorporeal

extraterrestrial

Correct answer:

incorporeal

Explanation:

The contrast here is with the word “bodies” in the first phrase, so do not go any further than that meaning if possible. While “invisible” and “hidden” are tempting options, “incorporeal” most directly answers to the need in this regard. It means not having a body. In this word, the prefix “in-” is a negative prefix meaning “not,” and the “-corporeal” portion is derived from the Latin for body. It is related to other words such as “corpulent,” “corpse,” and “incorporation.”

Example Question #62 : Conjunctions And Sentence Logic In One Blank Sentences

Choose the word that best completes the following sentence.

Although he did not give a(n) __________ sum of money, Scott’s gift was appreciated by the museum, which was in need of any amount of cash, no matter how small it might be.

Possible Answers:

affluent

substantial

contaminated

egregious

obligatory

Correct answer:

substantial

Explanation:

The main clue in this sentence is “no matter how small it might be.” The implication is that Scott’s gift was not very large, but it was nevertheless appreciated by the museum. When something is “substantial,” it is either of great importance or at least existing in a great amount. “Substance” can mean “matter” (as in “two chemical substances”) and it denotes a certain fixity as well. Thus, a “substantial” thing is important, like the solidity of matter (after a manner of speaking at least).

Example Question #63 : One Blank Sentences

Choose the word that best completes the following sentence.

Timothy had a noticeably __________ response to what his friend had thought would be considered exciting news.

Possible Answers:

distraught

agitated

tepid

ebullient

exasperated

Correct answer:

tepid

Explanation:

The contrast here is between excitement and what must be a rather detached and disinterested response from Timothy. When liquid is barely warm, it is said to be “tepid.” By extension, this becomes applied to persons to say that they are “lukewarm” or that they show little interest or passion for a given thing or things.

Example Question #1 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

After many failures, it is often difficult to believe that success is on the __________; nevertheless, one should slog on with high hopes of success.

Possible Answers:

itinerary

plan

regimen

horizon

brink

Correct answer:

horizon

Explanation:

The tone of this sentence is somewhat informal, so bear this in mind when making and confirming your choice. The expression "slog on" means to work hard or to work diligently. This second half intends to say that someone should continue to work hard in the hopes that success may indeed be "at hand." To say that something is "on the horizon" means that it is "nearly here." The horizon is the farthest edge of our view, where the sky meets the ground. Therefore, the expression, "on the horizon" means "almost going to appear"—like the sun appearing on the horizon. This fits well with the first half of the sentence.

Example Question #1 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

It might seem cruel, but it is necessary to __________ the ants completely, for if any remain alive, they will surely return to the house.

Possible Answers:

exterminate

poison

assail

trap

outdo

Correct answer:

exterminate

Explanation:

First of all, do not "overshoot" your details by choosing something like "poison" or "trap." We cannot justify such specificity without other clues. The key thing to note is the adverb "completely." We clearly are being told that the ants must be utterly killed. Now, "outdo" and "assail" just do not work for anything regarding killing—at least in no direct sense. However, "exterminate" is an excellent word. It not only expresses such killing but does so with completeness. A "terminus" is an end of something (just as a "terminal" at the airport is the branching walkway that goes all the way to the end of the possible planes). To "ex-terminate" is to drive something out beyond the boundaries. In English, it generally means "beyond the boundaries of life"—completely killing.

Example Question #1 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

Water may be a joy for most people to drink, but for coffee lovers, a good “cup o’ joe” is a most __________ experience.

Possible Answers:

fortunate

blissful

agreeable

pleasant

attractive

Correct answer:

blissful

Explanation:

The intensifying adverb “most” requires us to look for the strongest possible option among those given. While “pleasant” and “agreeable” do work in a certain manner, the word “blissful” best fits for this very strong use. “Bliss” is an extreme form of happiness, denoting complete and perfect joy. Though perhaps an overstatement regarding coffee in general, this sentence clearly calls for such a strong usage and not the weaker ones mentioned above.

Example Question #2 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

Given the small size of Sally’s frame, it only took two alcoholic beverages to make her become totally __________ and incapable of walking a straight line without significant wavering.

Possible Answers:

dessicated

inebriated

submergered

incapacitated

overwhelmed

Correct answer:

inebriated

Explanation:

Clearly, the point in the sentence is that Sally became drunk from the beverages. It is not right to say that she was incapacitated, a word meaning that she would have no capacity for action whatsoever. Instead, all that can be asserted is that she is drunk. Such a state of health is called “inebriation,” from the Latin “ebrius,” meaning “drunk.”

Example Question #2 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

The beautiful __________ painting, with its fluid and meandering lines, was a calming view for the patients in the waiting room.

Possible Answers:

serene

baroque

arabesque

pastoral

mediocre

Correct answer:

arabesque

Explanation:

An “arabesque” style painting is one with flowing lines. The word does indeed mean Arab-like (-esque), for it was believed to be derived in the West from Arab styles of art (which under Islamic influence would have lacked pictorial representation). The actual sources for such art are more complex, related to earlier Greek and Roman forms of ornamentation.

Example Question #1 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

The butler welcomed the guests from the door into a small __________, whence they would later be taken to the main dining room for the night’s gathering.

Possible Answers:

patio

antechamber

bedroom

accommodation

guestroom

Correct answer:

antechamber

Explanation:

The people were brought into an entry room, which could be considered as the “fore-room” to the main meeting area. Such an area is called an “antechamber” because it comes before (=ante) the main chamber or room. The prefix “ante-” can be found in words like “anterior,” “antecedent,” and “antebellum;” (the last meaning before a / the war—often the American Civil War in our usage in the United States).

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