Tampa SAT Tutor Hints for Sentence Completion Questions

Posted on 12th May 2009 in Tampa SAT Preparation

As a Tampa SAT tutor, I can empathize with students who feel anxious about taking the SAT. With less than stellar high school grades, I was anxious about the exam when I took it back in the Mesolithic Era.

The verbal portion of the SAT still has sentence completion questions that test vocabulary and ability to decipher context clues.

If you are struggling with sentence completions, do not despair. By working on improving your vocabulary and attacking sentence completion questions on the SAT systematically, you can dramatically improve your SAT score.

To improve your vocabulary, you should study lists of high frequency SAT words that can be found in almost every SAT prep guide. If you have sufficient time before you take your SAT, you should consider getting a series of vocabulary building books and doing a few exercises every day.

Photo of the Jefferson Monument by Tony the Misfit. Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Only. See more of Tony's excellent photographs in his Flickr photostream. He has some superb Jefferson quotations that accompany this particular shot.)

series that I like is Vocabulary from Classic Roots by Nancy Fiefer. These books are very helpful because they teach words in related clusters and teach them using the Latin and Greek roots. Learning word roots can really boost your SAT because roots give you a basis for intelligently inferring word meanings.

Here is an approach to SAT sentence completion questions:

  1. Read the sentence without looking at the answer choices and fill in a word that you think may fit.
  2. Look for a word with the same or a very similar meaning from the list of choices. If you are lucky, the word you think of will be in the answer choices.
  3. Test out the words to see which ones are possible and eliminate any answers that don’t fit.
  4. If it is a double completion question, examine the connection between the blanks. Does the sentence suggest contrast? Does it use words such as although, but, or nevertheless? Does the sentence suggest that the words that fit the blanks are similar in meaning? Does it use words such as similarly, in the same way, or likewise?
  5. Look for word roots, prefixes and suffixes to get a clue as to meaning.
  6. If you can eliminate at least one answer, guess.

SAT sentence completion questions are generally arranged roughly in order of difficulty, so do not agonize over the last one or two in a set. Do the best that you can, use process of elimination, and guess from the remaining choices – so long as you can eliminate at least one choice.

For those with sufficient time before the SAT, the best preparation for sentence completions is to read widely and actively. Assignments in an IB or AP curriculum should expose you to an abundance of college level reading. If you want to succeed at sentence completions, don’t skip unfamiliar words. Look them up on Dictionary.com or in a good college dictionary.

You can pick up lots of new words from reading Joseph Conrad or Charles Dickens if you invest the time to learn the words that are unfamiliar to you when you encounter them on the page. Call Tampa English Tutor Eric Anderson at 813.787.8959 if you would like private SAT Tutoring in Tampa, FL.

Posted by Tampa English Tutor at 5/12/2009 12:25 AM


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