PSAT Critical Reading : Sentence Completions

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

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

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

In a sense, one could say that we have a __________ relationship with the bacteria that live in our digestive system. Just as those bacteria cannot live without the environment that we provide, we too would suffer a great loss if we lost the influence of their beneficial waste production.

Possible Answers:

useful

friendly

beneficial

biological

symbiotic

Correct answer:

symbiotic

Explanation:

If two living things live together and (at least in a sense or to a degree) require each other for life, they have a “symbiotic” relationship. (It is possible to use the word merely to mean that they live in close proximity, though general usage often implies the advantageous nature of the relationship). The word comes from Greek roots. “Sym” (or “syn”) means together or “same” and is found in English words like “synonym,” “sympathy,” and “synagogue.” The “-biotic” portion comes from a root word meaning life, found in words like “biology,” “biopsy,” and “biography.”

Example Question #71 : Context Clues In One Blank Sentences

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

The author’s well known and epic __________ was written over a period of eighteen years amid the terrors and displacements of the Second World War.

Possible Answers:

saga

opus

chronicle

poem

novel

Correct answer:

opus

Explanation:

The word “opus” is directly derived from the Latin word for work, and while its English usage often implies a musical work, it can more broadly indicate any artistic work, particularly one that is very large and involved. The word “opus” in Latin has a forms containing the base “oper-”, found in English words like “opera” and “operate.”

Example Question #12 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

The editor would __________ each article, focusing on every word chosen by his writers, fearful that anything inappropriate would be published.

Possible Answers:

scrutinize

critique

assess

review

question

Correct answer:

scrutinize

Explanation:

The key expression here is “focusing on every word . . .” This gives the sense of paying close attention to each word in the articles. The word “scrutinize” means to examine or inspect thoroughly, which captures this sense.

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 suffering countless defeats, the football team was utterly __________, to the point of no longer hoping for victories in the coming season.

Possible Answers:

stoical

sober

dejected

resigned

despondent

Correct answer:

despondent

Explanation:

In contrast to the other words given as possible answers, being “despondent” implies lack of hope—not merely disappointment or emotional detachment. This is called for by the key phrase, “to the point of no longer hoping for . . .”

Example Question #1011 : Psat Critical Reading

After three immersions in the supposedly blessed waters, the young cleric believed that he had finished the process of ritual __________ and was worthy before the holiness of the deity.

Possible Answers:

baptism

sanctification

bathing

liturgy

action

Correct answer:

sanctification

Explanation:

The key word to note is “holiness;” therefore, while all of the other options are potentially applicable, only “sanctification” fits most closely. It means the process of being made holy. The “-fication” is a standard ending, meaning to do or to make and is likewise found in forms like “-fact-” (factor), “-fic-” (artificer), “-fect” (perfect), or even “-fy” (sanctify).  The root “sanct-” comes from the Latin sanctus meaning “holy.”

Example Question #1012 : Psat Critical Reading

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

The long, low tones of the church bell __________ sounded over the valley, marking the passing of the city’s mourning on the occasion of the death of the well-beloved citizen.

Possible Answers:

thunderously

broadly

plangently

resoundingly

openly

Correct answer:

plangently

Explanation:

Beyond noting the resounding of the bells, the word “plangently” likewise carries with it the sense of sadness. If someone is “plaintive,” he or she sounds as though mourning.

Example Question #1013 : Psat Critical Reading

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

Filbert would often intone the latest __________ that he had written for the worship at his monastery.

Possible Answers:

song

canticle

epistle

incantation

aria

Correct answer:

canticle

Explanation:

Although the other “music-related” words perhaps are tempting, “canticle” is the best, given that it has particular associations with church music. It comes from a base that is similar to that found in “cantor” (singer, particularly leading a church service), “cantata,” and “incantation.” All of these words are variously related to the Latin “cantare,” meaning to sing.

Example Question #1014 : Psat Critical Reading

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

When the first space telescope was developed, mankind was amazed by the __________ vision that it provided, far extending human vision beyond images of the closest astronomical bodies.

Possible Answers:

heavenly

extraterrestrial

extravant

sidereal

celestial

Correct answer:

sidereal

Explanation:

For this problem, it is necessary to choose the one “odd man out” that is at least closest to the sense implied. Since the telescope is far extending the vision beyond closer bodies, the best option is that which captures more than merely “celestial” or standard “heavenly” bodies. The word “sidereal” means “pertaining to the ‘fixed’ (distant) stars” or even just “pertaining to constellations.” 

Example Question #21 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

The servant filled the ___________ with hot water and took the vessel into the dining room for the pre-meal hand washing.

Possible Answers:

jug

chalice

laver

bowl

basin

Correct answer:

laver

Explanation:

When you encounter a sentence like this where multiple options seem identical, it is necessary to look for the option that best fits the specific case of our sentence. The vessel that we are looking for is to be used for hand washing, so “laver” is the best option. A laver is a vessel used for containing water for washing. It is related to words like “lavatory” and “latrine,” as well as “lotion.”

Example Question #21 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

The erudite scholar wrote a scathing critique __________ what he took to be a wrong-headed and rather superficial interpretation of Plato’s position regarding human knowledge.

Possible Answers:

ridiculing

mocking

questioning

excoriating

exposing

Correct answer:

excoriating

Explanation:

Since the critique is described as being “scathing,” the most appropriate verb for this sentence would be “excoriating,” which means “to criticize severely.” In contexts related to health, the word literally means “to take off the skin surface.”

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