14) Sentence Completions: Definition, Examples & Tips 2/2
The clues in the first few examples were pretty straightforward: they gave you a hint about the word in the blank. But on some of the Sentence Completion questions, test writers will take it to the next level by giving a hint about the opposite of the word in the blank. For example, take a look at this sentence:
‘After just getting fired, Miguel did not feel very —————.’
Here, you’re not looking for a feeling that would naturally go with ‘just getting fired,’ like depression or anger. Instead, the sentence asks you for something that he ‘did not feel,’ so a word like ‘happy’ or ‘positive’ would be a good fit for this blank. These opposite clues can easily trick you, so watch out for them! Some key words to be aware of: although, despite, not, and except. These words often signal that an opposite clue is incoming, so stay sharp!
Once you’ve used context clues to get an idea of what you’re hunting for, then it’s time for Step 2: turn to the answer choices and play the matching game. If you can positively identify that a word fits, your task is simple. Pick your word, read it back into the sentence to be sure it makes sense, and you’re done! But what if you don’t know all the words in the answer choices? Here are some tips:
- Eliminate, but eliminate wisely: Cross off everything you can be sure is wrong, but never ever cross off a word just because you don’t know what it means. If you don’t know what it means, you can’t possibly know that it doesn’t fit!
- Knowing a word does not make it right: Resist all temptation to pick a word just because you know what it means.
- Use roots, prefixes, and suffixes: Often, you can get a pretty decent sense for an unfamiliar word by thinking about other words with the same root. For example, if you see ‘stricture’ and don’t know what it means, you can get a good general idea by thinking about the root word ‘strict’ (also seen in ‘constriction’ and ‘restriction’).
By using elimination and educated guesses based on root words, you can often cross off at least two answer choices, and if you can do that, it’s to your advantage to take a guess, even if you just have to pick randomly from the last three.
One & Two Blanks
Now you know the general process for working through Sentence Completion questions. But all the examples so far have had just one blank! What about two-blank questions?
You’ll do these exactly the same way: first, look at the context clue and determine the meaning of the blank, then match the blank to an answer choice. The only difference is that you’ll have at least two clues, one for each blank, so you’ll do each of the steps twice and pick the answer that fits both blanks. Many students assume that this makes the two-blank questions harder, but in fact exactly the opposite is true. The two-blank questions are often easier, because they give you a double chance to eliminate.
Think about it: if you’re stuck on a one-blank answer choice and you don’t know the word, you’re fresh out of luck. But if you have a two-blank, both answer choices have to match their blanks. If one of them doesn’t fit, you can confidently cross off the whole answer even if you have no idea what the other word is. For example, say you have this sentence:
‘Because of his ————— nature, Mr. Fry was often late to important meetings and ————— events.’
And you’re looking at this answer choice:
You probably don’t know what sesquipedalian means. But you know from context clues that the second blank has to mean something like ‘important,’ and ‘relative’ doesn’t fit that clue at all. So you can cross this one off with 100% certainty even if you don’t have the foggiest idea what the first word means. And for the record, sesquipedalian means ‘prone to using long words’ – a fitting description for the SAT!
Source : https://study.com