13) Sentence Completions: Definition, Examples & Tips 1/2
Now we are going to look at SAT Sentence Completions. This article includes how they work, what the different kinds are, and how to tackle them to boost your score.
Numerically, passage-based reading questions make up by far the biggest chunk of the Critical Reading portion of the SAT. But on every Critical Reading section, you’ll also get between five and eight Sentence Completion questions before you get into the passages. These questions look something like this:
‘Impressed by the doctor’s —————, the medical students watched intently as he demonstrated the complicated surgery.’
You’ll get a sentence with either one word or two words left blank, and the answer choices will give you five options for plugging in the blanks. These questions are arranged from easy to difficult: Question #1 will have the simplest words, while the later questions may have much harder words in the answer choices, or a complicated sentence structure that makes them hard to interpret, or both.
You’ll solve each sentence completion question using a two-step process:
Step 1: figure out the blank. Use the context of the sentence to get an idea of what word you’re looking for. Is it positive or negative? Can you think of a synonym? You’ll do this for each blank in the question, so on the two-blank questions you’ll do it twice.
Step 2: choose your word. Once you’ve figured out what word you’re looking for, go to the answer choices and find the match. This step is a pretty straightforward vocabulary test. Again, you’ll do this once for each blank in the question, so you’ll do it twice on the two-blanks.
You don’t have to answer all of these questions to score well. It’s perfectly fine to leave a couple blank at the end. But you also don’t want to leave anything blank if you can answer it correctly, and you might be able to answer a lot more of these than you think! In this lesson, you’ll get some tips and advice for beating these questions at their own game.
When you’re working on the Sentence Completions, the first step is to figure out the blank, and for that, you’ll need context clues. Context clues are words or phrases in the sentence that give you a hint about what kind of word will be in the blank. Sometimes, these clues tell you more or less what the word will mean. A very simple example of this would be a sentence like:
‘The ————— bride looked stunning in her designer gown.’
Here, ‘stunning’ is a context clue that pretty much gives you a synonym for the blank. You know you want a word that means ‘beautiful’ or something similar.
On other times, the clues aren’t quite so simple, but they still give you a hint. An example of this type would be something like:
‘After just getting fired, Miguel felt very —————.’
There’s nothing here that you can directly use as a synonym. But ‘just getting fired’ gives you a clue that the blank will be something negative, like ‘discouraged’ or ‘worried.’