SAT Critical Reading : Style, Intensity, and Connotation in One-Blank Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #71 : Sentence Completions

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:

sanctification

liturgy

baptism

action

bathing

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 #72 : Sentence Completions

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:

resoundingly

openly

plangently

thunderously

broadly

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 #73 : Sentence Completions

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

aria

incantation

epistle

canticle

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 #74 : Sentence Completions

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:

sidereal

extraterrestrial

heavenly

extravant

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 #75 : Sentence Completions

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

bowl

basin

laver

chalice

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 #76 : Sentence Completions

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

questioning

mocking

exposing

excoriating

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.”

Example Question #11 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

One of the worst examples of table manners is exemplified by the case of someone ending all conversation in order to launch into a __________ by himself or herself.

Possible Answers:

colloquy

diatribe

dialogue

harangue

monologue

Correct answer:

monologue

Explanation:

The key expressions in this sentence are “ending all conversation” and “by himself or herself,” implying that the example of bad manners is found in one who speaks alone without involving anyone else. A “monologue” is a speech that is presented by a single person without any involvement of another party. Often, the term will be used in theatre, when a character steps aside to speak alone, detached from the action of the show, almost as though he were “thinking out loud.” Also, in the media, a “monologue” is given when a broadcaster presents a topic alone without involving any other guests. The word literally means “a word (spoken) alone.” The “mono-” portion is related to English words like “monocle” and “monotonous.” The “-logue” potion likewise has many related English words such as “logic,” “analogue,” and “locution.”

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

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

Although the Gutenberg press revolutionized the world of book sales, some monasteries continued to produce __________ by the old-fashioned methods of handwriting for some time.

Possible Answers:

manuscripts

scrolls

tomes

codices

papyri

Correct answer:

manuscripts

Explanation:

The key phrase here is “by the old-fashioned methods of handwriting.” Works that are “handwritten” are called “manuscripts,” a word that literally means “hand-written.” The “manu-” portion is found in English words like “manual” and “manicure,” from the Latin roots for “hand.” “Script,” clearly comes from root meanings related to writing, as is obvious from other related English words such as “scribe,” “subscription,” and “prescription.”

Example Question #13 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

David’s family knew that the garage was his __________, where he could be alone to work or merely to think while pretending to do so.

Possible Answers:

environment

sanctum

space

workshop

atelier

Correct answer:

sanctum

Explanation:

Since the garage was a quiet, somewhat “protected” space for David, it is best called a “sanctum” for him. The word literally means “holy place,” coming from Latin roots that are found in “sanctify” and “sanctuary.” When it is not used in a religious sense, the term means a private place reserved for a limited number of people. Somewhat often it is combined with “inner” in the expression “inner sanctum,” implying that the given area is more deeply “inside” a location, leaving the “outer” areas for those who are not welcomed into the sanctum.

Example Question #14 : Style, Intensity, And Connotation In One Blank Sentences

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

Her new dress was a __________ violation of the school’s dress code, with multiple elements that were completely prohibited.

Possible Answers:

minor

evenhanded

just

fair

flagrant

Correct answer:

flagrant

Explanation:

The seriousness of the violations (multiple elements), and the sense of the violation, lead to a need for a word indicating seriousness and even extremity.  "Just," "evenhanded," and "fair" are too positive, while "minor" does not convey the seriousness meant by the sentence.

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