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Flashcards in Sentence Completion Process Deck (28):

How should you attack sentence completion questions?

Follow this method:

  • Read for keywords
  • Predict a meaning
  • Search the answers
  • Select or Eliminate
  • Guess or Skip



What are keywords in sentence completion?

Keywords give context clues about the blanks in the sentence.


Find the keywords in this sentence completion example.

In cullinary school, the instructors stressed ________, because the general appearance of the food affects the way it is received on the ________.

general appearance


received on

The next step is to use these keywords to predict the missing meaning.


Find the keywords in this sentence completion example.

Placido thought his ________ for singing would ensure success at La Scala, until he heard his competition warming up.

thought, ensure success, until, competition



Why is prediction essential to handling the sentence completion questions?

Strong prediction can lead to a more efficient process: confident selection, and improved elimination strategies.


What should you concentrate on to make a strong prediction?

Concentrate on the keywords (including directional words).


With "once robust" and "now" as keywords, what meaning is missing from the following sentence?

The once robust corporation that made its fortune in metallic wires and cables now has reached its ________ condition as pensions and material costs greatly exceed billing quarter after quarter.

dying, unhealthy

The missing meaning is the opposite of "robust", which means healthy or hardy.

Overall context:  Corporations make fortunes when they are financially robust, but when costs exceed billing (income) they become unhealthy or begin to die.


How do you use a predicted meaning to help select an answer on sentence completion?

First search to find the predicted word or a close synonym.  If you find it, mark it and go on to the next question.


How do you use the predicted word if you can't find it among the suggested answers or identify a close synonym among them?

Use it to eliminate words that definitely don't mean what you predict.


What do you do if the sentence's keywords can't lead to a definite prediction?

The brothers were complete opposites: one was _________, while the other was ________.

In these cases, often the directional words guide you to identify a relationship between the words.

"Brother were...opposites;" here you can't tell how the brothers are opposite, so it's the combination of the two words have to be considered together.


How do you handle a sentence that defies definite prediction?

The ________ speech filled the crowd with ________.

Label the blanks "+" or "-" to show a positive word or negative, or recognize that you have a pair of positives or negatives together.

The inspiring speech filled the crowd with hope.

The daunting speech filled the crowd with dread.


How should you use elimination in the sentence completion process?

Try to eliminate all you can confidently say is not related to the meaning you predicted.


What skill can help both in reading the sentence and during the process of elimination?


Rooting for a part of a word can be key to eliminating those words from the selection list.

To improve rooting, we've included a Rooting Skill Builder deck, a Prefix and Suffix deck, and a False Roots.  Use them and watch reading and elimination improve.


When should you guess on a sentence completion question?

You should guess when you've been able to eliminate down to two possible answers?

Since there's only a 0.25 point penalty for a wrong answer, you've doubled your chance to gain by guessing when you're down to two answers. 

(Mark every question that you guess, so you can look at it again, if you have time.)


If you're down to two answers, what's a good way to decide between the two?

If one of the words is more familiar, but you can't define it, try it in the sentence.  If it sounds right, pick it.  If not, pick the other.


How does the test use your inconfidence against you in sentence completion?

Most students are unwilling to select a word that's completely unknown.

You will likely choose a word that you've seen over one you haven't.  On this test, don't be afraid of the dark.  The more you don't know a word; the more likely it is correct.

This strategy confounds the test's psychological edge.


How can an elimination process lead to more penalties, not less?

If you eliminate a correct answer,  then instead of a 50/50 guess, you have no chance of getting the question right.

Avoid overreaching when you eliminate.  Try to eliminate only words that you really know well.


How should you practice for sentence completion?

Take a practice test from College Board (they have a free one downloadable from their website) and see how many sentence completion you get wrong.

More than 10 means you probably need to build vocab and improve sentence reading.  Less than 5 and you should try to tighten your process.


What are some of the ways you can make errors on the sentence completion?

  • knowledge errors
  • attention to detail errors
  • process errors


How should you handle practice, if you have several knowledge errors?

Stop practicising test sections and do more flashcard work with vocab.

The only solution to not enough knowledge is to study more.

Whenever you see a word on a practice section that you don't know, use Brainscape to create a flashcard for it.


What should you do after practicising a sentence completion section?

Identify unknown words on the practice page.

Use your Brainscape account to make specific flashcards for your unknown words.

The best target lists for SAT contain the words that YOU don't know.  Add to the ones we've provided for you.  Knowing another word will never hurt.


How can you totally eliminate knowledge errors?

If you learn 80-85% of the words given to you in this program, your chance of making a knowledge error diminishes to almost zero.

There is no substitute for hard work on critical reading.


What type of error is most related to basic reading ability?

Attention to detail errors

Most often this takes the form of a misread, where you have the wrong context in mind when you go to predict.


Why are attention to detail errors the hardest, by far, to correct?

ATD errors are hard to correct, because it may require using a challenge reading list and hours of practice with difficult material, often with a tutor.


How do you know when your errors are coming from attention to detail?

When examing a mistake you notice that you took the wrong meaning from misreading a particular word or phrase?


What identifies a process error on sentence completion questions?

A process error is when you fail to identify keywords, or generate a prediction, or you eliminate a correct answer.  You just talk yourself into an answer.

Particularly, this error you'll say "oh, I could've gotten that one."


How can you have steady improvement in your scores on sentence completion

  • Learn the process
  • Mix in direct vocabulary study
  • Practice the process until you can do it without having to think "What comes next?"
  • Periodically assess your errors, if most are knowledge based, keep studying because you're on your way to mastering this section
  • Study toward a goal of 80% of the target list


How much time should you devote to practicing sentence completion?

Devote a third of your time to practicising sentence completion.

There are more points to be had on passage reading, but learning more vocabulary here and concentrating on reading sentences well helps there too.