The SAT Prep Black Book

SAT Sentence Completion

SAT Sentence Completion Quick Summary

This is a one-page summary of the major relevant concepts. Use it to evaluate your comprehension or jog your memory. For a more in-depth treatment of these ideas, see the rest of the section.

The Big Secret: Vocabulary doesn’t matter as much as everybody thinks. Careful reading is much more important.

Remember to read carefully at all times.

The right answer will restate some other part of the sentence.

Focus on the questions where vocabulary isn’t an issue first.

Don’t choose a word just because you know what it means. Only choose it if you think it restates a part of the sentence.

There are a few special techniques that will help you better understand words you don't know:

oThink of any connotation the unknown word might have for you.

oRemove any suffixes the word may have, and see if it sounds more familiar.

oSee if the suffix indicates anything about the word’s possible meaning. For example, “-able” indicates that some action can be done to something. “-ism” indicates a philosophy. And so on.

oConsider any likely prefixes, and possible meanings of the word without them.

oConsider possible cognates from other languages, books, company names, etc.

oThe goal isn’t to figure out exactly what a word means. The goal is to figure out if the word might be related to the ideas in the sentence.

Rules for this part of the test include:

oThe correct answer must restate some part of the sentence.

oThe correct answer must make a natural-sounding English sentence.

Here's the general Sentence Completion process:

oRead the sentence and answer choices with an open mind. Don’t pre-form the answer.

oLook for an answer choice that restates key elements of the sentence.

oUse the special Sentence Completion techniques on any words with unknown meanings.

oMake certain your choice restates key elements of the sentence.

oRead the sentence with your answer choice in the blank (or blanks) to make sure it fits.

oMark your answer.

oSkip the question if you run into too many unknown words and can’t work around them with the techniques above. Make sure you answer all the questions correctly where you know enough of the words to do so. The most important thing is to avoid careless mistakes.

For demonstrations of these ideas, see the many sample solutions in this Black Book.