Breaking Down the SAT: Sentence Completion

Sat Sentence Completion

The sentence completion portion of the SAT is designed to test your vocabulary and reading comprehension through the use of contextual clues. The section will provide you with a series of incomplete sentences where the test taker is responsible for filling in the missing word or words from the choices provided. A multiple choice consisting of five potential answers will be supplied for each question.

Approximately one-fourth of the critical reading section of the SAT is comprised of sentence completion questions. Furthermore, each of these questions must be answered within the span of a minute in order to allow for enough time to complete the test. As a result, it is vital that students familiarize themselves with the format so they can answer as quickly and competently as possibly.One strategy for answering these types of questions is to fill in your own words to complete the sentence. This allows your mind to quickly understand the context of the sentence and the type of word that would be appropriate. Once you have selected your own word, you can also answer the question simply by locating the proper synonym. If there are multiple answers that seem synonymous with the word you chose, read the sentence with both words and confirm which makes more sense. Another tactic is to pay close attention to specific words or phrases that alter the context, such as “however” and “in addition.” These words serve as clues to whether the word contrasts or complements the preceding statement. For instance, the following is an example of a common type of sentence completion question taken from B Line Test Prep’s free SAT online course:Although H.P. Lovecraft wrote many of the world’s most influential horror stories, during his lifetime he was ____.A) famous
B) unrivaled
C) obscure
D) renowned
E) masterfulExamining this sentence, we can see that there is a clue at the very beginning. The word “although” indicates there will be a contrast or unexpected outcome at the end of the sentence. As the first portion of the sentence lauds Lovecraft as an influential writer, we can surmise that during his lifetime he was anything but. Using the stratagem listed above, we can fill in the blank with the words “not influential” or “not very good.” Shuffling through the potential answers, all seem to imply the opposite save for C) obscure.

Like most sections of the SAT, the sentence completion section is ordered from the least to most difficult question. Therefore it is imperative you move quickly through the early portions in order to allow for enough time to complete the test. You can take advantage of an SAT prep to further acclimate yourself to the questions and time constraints in order to better prepare you for the actual exam.

Breaking down the SAT: Sentence Completion

The sentence completion section of the SAT will test your vocabulary and ability to make sense of “context clues” while reading. In this section, you will be given questions that consist of sentences where either one or two blanks are present, indicating missing words. You then must choose from among five answers to find the word or words that make the most sense in the context of the sentence.

These types of questions make up about a fourth of the Critical Reading section of the SAT, so it is important to be familiar with them since you will only have a little less than a minute to answer each one. Online SAT test prep is a great way to familiarize yourself with the types of questions you will be confronted with and how to answer them.

A good strategy for answering these fill-in-the-blank questions is to read the sentence quickly and fill in your own word to complete the sentence. To do this, you will need to look for context words that the test writers include in the sentence. Words like “however,” “because of,” or “additionally” can clue you in as to whether you need a contrasting word or a complementary one.

After coming up with your own word to complete the sentence, look to see if there is a synonym for your word among the answers. Consider all the answers. If there is more than one that is close to what you chose, try reading the sentence with both of those words in context to see which makes more sense.

Let’s look at an example:

Even though Vincent van Gogh painted many of the world’s greatest masterpieces, people in his own time thought he was ____.

A) able B) inexpert C) unrivaled D) merited E) masterful

Reading through this sentence, we can see there is a clue word right at the very beginning: “even though.” “Even though” usually sets a sentence up for a contrast at the end-even though this happened, something unexpected was the outcome. Keeping that in mind, we can come up with our own word for the end of this sentence that contrasts with the fact that Van Gogh painted many of the world’s greatest masterpieces-perhaps, “not good.”

Looking through the answers, most of them have the opposite meaning from “not good,” except for B) inexpert. So B must be our answer.

This section is typically ordered from least to most difficult question, so be sure to leave enough time to answer the harder questions by moving quickly at the beginning. You can use online SAT test prep to practice answering questions and become familiar with techniques that will save you time.

Preparing for the SAT Critical Reading Section

The Critical Reading section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test focuses on two things: sentence completion and reading comprehension. When combined, the two sections exemplify a student’s grasp of the English language and their ability to recognize and utilize various parts of speech. The critical reading section, in the past, was known simply as the verbal section but now its goal has expanded; the idea being that a student shouldn’t simply know a variety of words congruent with their grade level, but also be well versed with their precise usage.

The sentence completion section is designed to gauge the student’s familiarity with a range of words: their form of speech, usage, and of course, meaning. The latter of which is can be very specific, often the range of answers will include synonyms and/or homophones in order to eliminate the usage of the ever-popular educated guess. Aside from meaning and usage, sentence completion questions measure the student’s ability to structure and form sentences, to know logically how all the parts work together in order to communicate a clear and complete idea. Knowing words and their meanings is the most reliable form of preparation for the sentence completion section, guessing is not a recommended strategy.

The other half of the Critical Reading section is passage based reading. Passages are selected from a wide range of subjects and topics and can be as short as one hundred words to eight hundred. This means one passage can be a half of a short story that is followed by the opening paragraphs of George Kennan’s Article X. Scientific articles are often used as well as humanities based and political pieces. The passages will be presented within a range of styles and normally feature several elements: narration, exposition, argumentation, and the like.

A student preparing for the SAT should be aware of the range the critical reading passages can cover, but simultaneously they should be aware that the major focus of the passage based reading is to test vocabulary, comprehension, and extended reasoning. Vocabulary questions are, somewhat like the sentence completion questions, formulated in order to know that a student is capable of determining meanings of words and phrases based on context. The focus of literary comprehension is to make certain that the student grasps and understands the material. Extended reasoning comprises a majority of the passage based reading questions and they oblige the test taker to make inferences or analyze and identify causes and effects. Reasoning questions can be broader as well, requiring identification of main ideas, purpose, or tone. Another popular but very necessary sort of question, which focuses much more on the extended part of the reasoning, will ask that the test taker replicate the logic of arguments or analogies within the text and apply them to ideas extraneous to the text. Simply put, the objective behind the questions is to determine whether or not the test taker can analyze texts rather than read them and prove that basically, they understand them.

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