Tips on Handling Sentence
Completion Questions


Before You Look at the Answer Choices, Think of a Word That Makes Sense

Your first step in answering a sentence completion question is, without looking at the answer choices, to try to come up with a word that fits in the blank. The word you think of may not be the exact word that appears in any of the answer choices, but it will probably be similar in meaning to the right answer. Then, when you turn to the answer choices, you’ll have an idea of what you’re looking for.

Try going through the sentence substituting the word blank for each missing word. Doing this will give you a feel for what the sentence means.


Unlike her gabby brother Bruce, Bea seldom    blanks   .


Just from looking at the sentence, you know the answer must be chatters, talks, or a synonym.

At this point, look at the answer choices. If the word you thought of is one of the five choices, select it as your answer. If the word you thought of is not a choice, look for a synonym of that word.

See how the process works in dealing with a more complex sentence.

The psychologist set up the experiment to test the rat’s ____; he wished to see how well the rat adjusted to the changing conditions it had to face.

Did You Notice? image

The sentence above is actually two statements linked by a semicolon (;). The punctuation mark is your clue that the two statements support each other.

A semicolon signals you that the second statement develops the idea expressed in the first statement.


Statement 1:


The psychologist set up the experiment to test the rat’s adaptability.

Statement 2:

He wished to see how well the rat adjusted to the changing conditions it had to face.

Even before you look at the answer choices, you can figure out what the answer should be.

Look at the sentence. A psychologist is trying to test some particular quality or characteristic of a rat. What quality? How do you get the answer?

Note how the part of the sentence following the semicolon (the second clause, in technical terms) is being used to define or clarify what the psychologist is trying to test. He is trying to see how well the rat adjusts. What words does this suggest to you? Either flexibility or adaptabilitycould complete the sentence’s thought.

Here are the five answer choices given:

(A) reflexes

(B) communicability

(C) stamina

(D) sociability

(E) adaptability


The answer clearly is adaptability, (E).

Be sure to check out all five answer choices before you make your final choice. Don’t leap at the first word that seems to fit. You are looking for the word that best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. In order to be sure you have not been hasty in making your decision, substitute each of the answer choices for the missing word. That way you can satisfy yourself that you have come up with the answer that best fits.