Tips on Handling Sentence
Completion Questions


Take One Blank at a Time

Dealing with double-blank sentences can be tricky. Testing the first word of each answer pair helps you narrow things down.

Here’s how to do it. Read through the entire sentence. Then insert the first word of each answer pair in the sentence’s first blank. Ask yourself whether this particular word makes sense in this blank. If the initial word of an answer pair makes no sense in the sentence, you can eliminate the entire pair.

Next, check out the second word of each of the answer pairs that you haven’t ruled out. Be careful. Remember: just as each word of the correct answer pair must make sense in its individual context, both words must make sense when used together.

Try this question to practice working with double-blank sentences.

The opossum is ____ the venom of snakes in the rattlesnake subfamily and thus views the reptiles not as ____ enemies but as a food source.

(A) vulnerable to…natural

(B) indicative of…mortal

(C) impervious to…lethal

(D) injurious to…deadly

(E) defenseless against…potential


Your first job is to eliminate any answer choices you can on the basis of their first word.

• Opossums might be vulnerable to snake poison. Keep (A).

• Opossums are unlikely to be indicative or suggestive of snake poison. Cross out (B).

• Opossums could be impervious to (unaffected by; immune to) snake poison. Keep (C).

• Opossums couldn’t be injurious or harmful to snake poison. Cross out (D).

• Opossums could be defenseless against snake poison. Keep (E).

Now examine the second half of the sentence. Opossums look on rattlesnakes as a food source. They can eat rattlers for a reason. Why? Is it because opossums are vulnerable to or defenseless against the poison? No. It’s because they’re impervious to the poison (that is, unharmed by it). That’s the reason they can treat the rattlesnake as a potential source of food and not as a lethal, or deadly, enemy. The correct answer is (C).

Note the cause-and-effect signal thus. The nature of the opossum’s response to the venom explains why it can look on a dangerous snake as a possible prey.