Sentence Completion Exercises


Level C


Most high school students have trouble answering many sentence completion questions on this level of difficulty. Consider the four practice exercises that follow to be a chance for you to acquaint yourself with the toughest sorts of sentence completion questions that occur on the SAT.

Each of the following sentences contains one or two blanks; each blank indicates that a word or set of words has been left out. Below the sentence are five words or phrases, lettered A through E. Select the word or set of words that best completes the sentence.




Fame is ----; today’s rising star is all too soon tomorrow’s washed-up has-been.




(A) rewarding

(B) gradual

(C) essential

(D) spontaneous

(E) transitory






   1. The moon was hidden and the night had grown very dark; she had to ____ to see.

       (A) blink

       (B) strain

       (C) mask

       (D) remember

       (E) reflect

   2. The Battle of Lexington was not, as most of us have been taught, a ____ rising of individual farmers, but was instead a tightly organized, well-planned event.

       (A) premeditated

       (B) cautionary

       (C) spontaneous

       (D) coordinated

       (E) theoretical

   3. The book will arouse antagonism, disagreement, and animosity among theologians because it will ____ many ____ rituals and beliefs.

       (A) undermine…iconoclastic

       (B) tolerate…accepted

       (C) undermine…established

       (D) disregard…forgotten

       (E) observe…pious

   4. The ____, by definition, possesses wisdom; the virtuoso, by definition, possesses ____.

       (A) scholar…morality

       (B) sage…expertise

       (C) zealot…sincerity

       (D) visionary…idealism

       (E) pedant…proficiency

   5. For a young person, Winston seems remarkably ____; you’d expect someone his age to show a little more life.

       (A) sophomoric

       (B) vigorous

       (C) stodgy

       (D) tidy

       (E) sensitive

   6. The true historian finds the facts about Marlowe and Shakespeare far more interesting than people’s unfounded ____.

       (A) complaints

       (B) evidence

       (C) conjectures

       (D) qualms

       (E) certainty

   7. Even Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, and William Gaddis—eminent novelists who are notoriously ____ when it comes to ____—have surrendered to the exigencies of modern publishing and agreed to be the subjects of magazine articles.

       (A) prolific…writing

       (B) egotistical…fame

       (C) overrated…style

       (D) irate…delays

       (E) shy…publicity

   8. Tom prided himself on knowing the latest news, the secrets of the rich and the poor; it ____ him that there was something he did not know about his friend.

       (A) delighted

       (B) flattered

       (C) reminded

       (D) galled

       (E) reassured

   9. Uncertain which suitor she ought to marry, the princess ____, saying now one, now the other.

       (A) improvised

       (B) vacillated

       (C) threatened

       (D) compromised

       (E) divulged

10. Factory trawlers, large fishing vessels that drag heavy nets over the seafloor, “vacuum” the North Pacific seas, trapping fish ____.

       (A) unintentionally

       (B) indiscriminately

       (C) paradoxically

       (D) collaboratively

       (E) temporarily

11. Elizabeth Barrett, whose ____ father would brook no interference or disagreement with his plans for his daughter, eloped in order to ____ his autocratic rule.

       (A) attentive…underscore

       (B) vindictive…preserve

       (C) domineering…escape

       (D) idiosyncratic…accommodate

       (E) authoritarian…extend

12. Duke Ellington’s jazz symphonies were attacked by classical critics who felt that the entire attempt to fuse jazz as a form with classical music should be ____.

       (A) promoted

       (B) documented

       (C) discouraged

       (D) acclaimed

       (E) repeated

13. During the last four decades of Tennyson’s long life, his creative powers never ____, some of his most remarkable work coming after the age of 70.

       (A) recovered

       (B) manifested

       (C) flagged

       (D) blossomed

       (E) broadened

14. The villagers fortified the town hall, hoping this improvised ____ could ____ them from the guerrilla raids.

       (A) citadel…alienate

       (B) refuge…distinguish

       (C) stronghold…protect

       (D) venture…intimidate

       (E) disguise…safeguard

15. Lovejoy, the hero of Jonathan Gash’s mystery novels, is an antiques dealer who gives the reader advice on how to tell ____ antique plate from the real thing.

       (A) a priceless

       (B) a spurious

       (C) a classical

       (D) an authentic

       (E) an antiquated

16. The omniscient narrator stands above the story he is telling, ____ his knowledge of what will occur.

       (A) disheartened by

       (B) unlimited in

       (C) ostracized for

       (D) vindicated by

       (E) uncertain of

17. Today employers no longer speak of firing or discharging employees; instead, according to the latest ____, they simply “effect a separation.”

       (A) digression

       (B) overstatement

       (C) euphemism

       (D) paradox

       (E) proverb

18. The TV news magazine sits precisely at the ____ of information and entertainment, for while it is not a silly sitcom, it is not a documentary either.

       (A) foundation

       (B) juncture

       (C) cessation

       (D) institution

       (E) eclipse

19. Even though nonbreeding female mole rats are ____, when the queen mole rat dies, several females suddenly ____ their sexual and reproductive powers and battle one another to replace her.

       (A) prolific…accept

       (B) sterile…regain

       (C) barren…relinquish

       (D) fecund…recover

       (E) fragile…lose

20. ____ by life’s ____, the last emperor of China worked as a lowly gardener in the palace over which he had once ruled.

       (A) Fortified…generosity

       (B) Deluded…coincidences

       (C) Humbled…vicissitudes

       (D) Venerated…survivors

       (E) Recognized…impostors



   1. The observers hope to find out how important ____ foraging is to these endangered shorebirds in order to ____ the importance of restricting nighttime human use of beaches to specific places or times.

       (A) nocturnal…ascertain

       (B) aerial…convey

       (C) underwater…rectify

       (D) sporadic…mitigate

       (E) desultory…mandate

   2. Most people who are color-blind actually can distinguish several colors; some, however, have a truly ____ view of a world all in shades of gray.

       (A) monochromatic

       (B) opalescent

       (C) translucent

       (D) astigmatic

       (E) roseate

   3. Even when being ____ in method, people can come up with incorrect answers by basing their arguments on false premises.

       (A) original

       (B) logical

       (C) slipshod

       (D) realistic

       (E) careless

   4. Was he so thin-skinned, then, to ____ any small ____ at his expense?

       (A) support…purchase

       (B) repeat…compliment

       (C) comprehend…mystery

       (D) resent…jest

       (E) disregard…insult

   5. We look with pride at our new bridges and dams, for they are works of art as well as of ____.

       (A) leisure

       (B) aesthetics

       (C) drudgery

       (D) utility

       (E) anachronism

   6. When clay dries out, it loses its plasticity and becomes less ____.

       (A) synthetic

       (B) expensive

       (C) malleable

       (D) tangible

       (E) brittle

   7. For many years an unheralded researcher, Barbara McClintock gained international ____ when she won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

       (A) condemnation

       (B) notoriety

       (C) renown

       (D) affluence

       (E) camaraderie

   8. In judging the degree of his guilt, the question remains whether he acted out of purely ____ motives or whether he acted with thoughts of his own ____ in mind.

       (A) benevolent…fame

       (B) disinterested…advantage

       (C) selfish…benefit

       (D) mercenary…profit

       (E) malicious…cleverness

   9. Rosa was such a last-minute worker that she could never start writing a paper till the deadline was ____.

       (A) known

       (B) problematic

       (C) imminent

       (D) superseded

       (E) recent

10. Rather than feeling toward Miss Havisham the ____ due a benefactor, Estella became resentful and even ____ to her patron.

       (A) esteem…effusive

       (B) obligation…dutiful

       (C) altruism…quarrelsome

       (D) gratitude…hostile

       (E) condescension…benign

11. Trying to prove Hill a liar, Senator Specter repeatedly questioned her ____.

       (A) intelligence

       (B) veracity

       (C) optimism

       (D) autonomy

       (E) brevity

12. It was only the first day of summer vacation, but his nerves were already ____ by the constant clamor of the children.

       (A) eliminated

       (B) alleviated

       (C) replete

       (D) vacillated

       (E) frayed

13. Donald Trump’s former casino in Atlantic City once was the most ____ gambling palace in the East, easily outglittering its competitors.

       (A) professional

       (B) speculative

       (C) ostentatious

       (D) lucrative

       (E) restrained

14. Mrs. Thatcher had a better eye for the weaknesses and ____ of her contemporaries than for their virtues.

       (A) responsibilities

       (B) foibles

       (C) merits

       (D) talents

       (E) attractions

15. American culture now stigmatizes, and sometimes even heavily ____, behavior that was once taken for granted: overt racism, cigarette smoking, the use of sexual stereotypes.

       (A) advocates

       (B) penalizes

       (C) ignores

       (D) indoctrinates

       (E) advertises

16. Because we have completed our analysis of the major components of the proposed project, we are free to devote the remainder of this session to a study of the project’s ____ details.

       (A) lurid

       (B) scrupulous

       (C) unquestionable

       (D) incidental

       (E) involuntary

17. When we encounter a tentative thought of our own in someone else’s writings, any ____ we may have had of its validity is ____, and what we were hesitant to believe is confirmed as truth.

       (A) assurance…unfounded

       (B) intimation…imprudent

       (C) doubt…dispelled

       (D) proof…unjustified

       (E) suspicion…reinforced

18. Determined to hire employees on the basis of their merits rather than on the basis of their family connections, Johnson refused to ____ nepotism and other forms of favoritism in the engagement of new workers.

       (A) obscure

       (B) proscribe

       (C) countenance

       (D) misrepresent

       (E) discern

19. Just as sloth is the mark of the idler, ____ is the mark of the ____.

       (A) grief…miser

       (B) obsequiousness…toady

       (C) wanderlust…trespasser

       (D) suspicion…tyrant

       (E) brevity…wit

20. Unlike Sartre, who was born into a cultivated environment, receiving culture in his feeding bottle, so to speak, the child Camus had to fight to ____ a culture that was not ____.

       (A) acquire…innate

       (B) encourage…barbarous

       (C) develop…frivolous

       (D) restrain…inferior

       (E) justify…conventional



   1. Because the damage to his car had been ____, Michael decided he wouldn’t bother to report the matter to his insurance company.

       (A) intermittent

       (B) gratuitous

       (C) negligible

       (D) spontaneous

       (E) significant

   2. Such was Brandon’s ____ that he was frequently described as being honest as the day was long.

       (A) vigilance

       (B) munificence

       (C) probity

       (D) gravity

       (E) eminence

   3. While the movie Spellbound is in many ways a glowing testimonial to the powers of psychoanalysis to overcome the evils of unreason, its portrait of the analytic profession is not entirely ____.

       (A) malignant

       (B) obscure

       (C) adulatory

       (D) vehement

       (E) derivative

   4. Hoping for a rave review of his new show, the playwright was ____ when the critics ____ it unanimously.

       (A) gloomy…condoned

       (B) incredulous…appraised

       (C) vexed…selected

       (D) miserable…panned

       (E) impressed…divulged

   5. Because it had not been blasted into a stable orbit, the satellite moved ____ through space.

       (A) innocuously

       (B) terminally

       (C) erratically

       (D) effortlessly

       (E) routinely

   6. When railroads first began to supplant rivers and canals as highways of commerce, they were regarded as blessings and their promoters were looked upon as ____.

       (A) hucksters

       (B) upstarts

       (C) atheists

       (D) benefactors

       (E) diehards

   7. Though she tried to be happy living with Clara in the city, Heidi ____ for the mountains and for her gruff but loving grandfather.

       (A) pined

       (B) searched

       (C) cheered

       (D) labored

       (E) trembled

   8. The discovery by George Poinar and Roberta Hess that amber can preserve intact tissue from million-year-old insects ____ the possibility, since proved correct, that it also can preserve intact DNA.

       (A) eliminated

       (B) distorted

       (C) raised

       (D) precluded

       (E) predestined

   9. The new dance troupe’s gravest problem, one that mars the current production, is a desire for correctness and technical accuracy that ____ both energy and musical response.

       (A) enhances

       (B) stifles

       (C) transforms

       (D) reflects

       (E) supplies

10. New judges often fear that the influence of their own backgrounds will ____ their verdicts, no matter how sincere they are in wanting to be ____.

       (A) contradict…revered

       (B) corroborate…silent

       (C) condition…impartial

       (D) disclose…secretive

       (E) falsify…humane

11. Because he had abandoned his post and joined forces with the Indians, his fellow officers considered the hero of Dances with Wolves a ____.

       (A) martinet

       (B) braggart

       (C) renegade

       (D) skinflint

       (E) laggard

12. To take a ____ attitude, looking down on others as one’s inferiors, often is to ____ any chance of favorable relations with them.

       (A) promising…negate

       (B) patronizing…eliminate

       (C) modest…reduce

       (D) pertinent…violate

       (E) benign…deny

13. Contemporary critics often ____ the poet Longfellow as a simple sentimentalist who relied too much on poetic meters only suitable for light verse.

       (A) heed

       (B) endorse

       (C) dismiss

       (D) embellish

       (E) acclaim

14. On some occasions Monteverdi clearly specifies the instruments he wishes to make up his orchestra, but more often he is ____ or silent on the issue.

       (A) enigmatic

       (B) precise

       (C) eloquent

       (D) resolute

       (E) vehement

15. Just as an ____ dish lacks flavor, an inane remark lacks ____.

       (A) intriguing…spice

       (B) insipid…sense

       (C) inedible…listeners

       (D) occasional…implications

       (E) offensive…taste

16. Deeply ____ by the insult to his dignity, he maintained that no true gentleman would accept such an ____ calmly.

       (A) mortified…opportunity

       (B) incensed…affront

       (C) puzzled…honor

       (D) shamed…iconoclasm

       (E) gratified…admonition

17. Isozaki’s love for detail is apparent everywhere in the new museum, but happily the details are ____ to the building’s larger formal composition, which is ____ by the unfortunate busyness of much recent architecture.

       (A) important…harmed

       (B) irrelevant…fragmented

       (C) subordinated…unencumbered

       (D) appropriate…echoed

       (E) incidental…nullified

18. Although most worthwhile criticism concentrates on the positive, one should not ____ praise everything.

       (A) argumentatively

       (B) constructively

       (C) derogatorily

       (D) analytically

       (E) indiscriminately

19. The biographer may not have ____ the depths of her subject’s self-contradictory character, but she has traced its intriguingly complex ____.

       (A) plumbed…tedium

       (B) sounded…surface

       (C) thwarted…background

       (D) reached…insipidity

       (E) disregarded…psyche

20. Learned though she was, her ____ never degenerated into ____.

       (A) erudition…pedantry

       (B) knowledge…ignorance

       (C) scholarship…research

       (D) speculation…thought

       (E) education…inquiry



   1. Biologists categorize many of the world’s environments as deserts: regions where the ____ availability of some key factor, such as water, sunlight, or an essential nutrient, places sharp constraints on the existence of living things.

       (A) ready

       (B) gradual

       (C) limited

       (D) nearby

       (E) unprecedented

   2. The sea was so rough that the safest thing to do was to seize the railing of the ship and hang on; walking was too ____ a pastime.

       (A) leisurely

       (B) pleasant

       (C) tempting

       (D) precarious

       (E) prosaic

   3. Though the ad writers had come up with a highly creative campaign to publicize the company’s newest product, the head office rejected it for a more ____, down-to-earth approach.

       (A) innovative

       (B) drastic

       (C) prosaic

       (D) noteworthy

       (E) philosophic

   4. The Americans and the British seem to have a dog-in-the-manger attitude toward the island of Malta, no longer needing it themselves but nevertheless wishing to ____ it to others.

       (A) interpret

       (B) offer

       (C) deny

       (D) praise

       (E) reveal

   5. Increasingly silent and withdrawn, he changed from a fluent, articulate speaker to someone who gave only ____ answers to any questions asked of him.

       (A) bookish

       (B) effusive

       (C) idiomatic

       (D) pretentious

       (E) monosyllabic

   6. When you learn archaeology solely from lectures, you get only ____ sense of the concepts presented, but when you hold a 5,000-year-old artifact in your hands, you have a chance to involve your senses, not just your intellect.

       (A) an invalid

       (B) an anachronistic

       (C) an abstract

       (D) a specious

       (E) a tangential

   7. Paradoxically, while it is relatively easy to prove a fraudulent work of art is a fraud, it is often virtually impossible to prove that an authentic one is ____.

       (A) unpretentious

       (B) objective

       (C) impartial

       (D) dubious

       (E) genuine

   8. The humorist Mark Twain had a great ____ for history and historians, observing that each year the antiquarians shed new darkness on the past.

       (A) reverence

       (B) affinity

       (C) tolerance

       (D) contempt

       (E) empathy

   9. Since novelty of presentation is apt to add to a performer’s popularity, the most successful troubadours were those who were also the most ____ in their delivery.

       (A) spontaneous

       (B) lyrical

       (C) academic

       (D) practiced

       (E) repetitious

10. Unfortunately, in developing countries rapid economic growth often ____ the overexploitation of natural resources and ____ distribution of wealth.

       (A) halts…indiscriminate

       (B) holds off…inadequate

       (C) leads to…inequitable

       (D) continues…evenhanded

       (E) goes beyond…ungrateful

11. Untempered by any ____, she spread an ever more militant message to her followers.

       (A) conviction

       (B) enthusiasm

       (C) radicalism

       (D) hardship

       (E) discretion

12. The idea that people are basically economic creatures, intent only upon their own material advantage, induces disbelief in the ____ of any seemingly ____ motive.

       (A) purpose…natural

       (B) desirability…ulterior

       (C) stupidity…altruistic

       (D) seemliness…egoistic

       (E) integrity…unselfish

13. Leavening his decisions with humorous, down-to-earth anecdotes, Judge Wapner was not at all the ____ legal scholar.

       (A) considerate

       (B) pedantic

       (C) indecisive

       (D) competent

       (E) pragmatic

14. The Apache are a ____ society, where husbands typically move into wives’ dwellings and women take the leadership role in family affairs.

       (A) sedentary

       (B) defunct

       (C) fragmented

       (D) matrilineal

       (E) xenophobic

15. _____ James Baldwin, who wrote of black Americans as being in a perpetual state of rage, Mr. Cose asserts that few human beings could ____ the psychic toll of uninterrupted anger.

       (A) Corroborating…endure

       (B) Refuting…enhance

       (C) Dismissing…refine

       (D) Challenging…survive

       (E) Upholding…weather

16. Rather than allowing these dramatic exchanges between her characters to develop fully, Ms. Norman unfortunately tends to ____ the discussions involving the two women.

       (A) exacerbate

       (B) protract

       (C) truncate

       (D) augment

       (E) elaborate

17. “The show must go on” is the oldest ____ of show business; every true performer lives by that creed.

       (A) euphemism

       (B) allegory

       (C) precursor

       (D) tenet

       (E) corroboration

18. The ____ with which musicians and lovers of fine instruments ____ Paul Irvin’s professional services attests to his great expertise and craftsmanship as a harpsichord maker.

       (A) hesitation…acquire

       (B) avidness…solicit

       (C) persistence…supersede

       (D) harmony…conjure

       (E) vehemence…reject

19. From the critic’s perspective, M. F. K. Fisher is a writer who ____ classification, for her food writing reads like love stories, her fiction like memoirs.

       (A) remembered

       (B) relished

       (C) skirted

       (D) complied with

       (E) matured with

20. Because the apelike members of Australopithecus afarensis were capable both of walking and of swinging through trees, the anthropologist described them as a mosaic, bipedal from the waist down and ____ from the waist up.

       (A) ethereal

       (B) arboreal

       (C) dysfunctional

       (D) articulated

       (E) pedestrian