Verbal > Sentence Completion

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Question Structure

  • Passage composed of one to five sentences.
  • One to three blanks.
  • Three answer choices per blank (five answer choices in the case of a single blank).
  • The answer choices for different blanks function independently; that is, selecting one answer choice for one blank does not affect what answer choices you can select for another blank.
  • Single correct answer, consisting of one choice for each blank; no credit for partially correct answers.

Tips for Answering

  • Read through the passage to get an overall sense of it.
  • Identify words or phrases that seem particularly significant
  • Think up your own words for the blanks.
  • Do not assume that the first blank is the one that should be filled first
  • Double check your answers.

Sample Questions


It is refreshing to read a book about our planet by an author who does not allow facts to be (i)__________ by politics: well aware of the political disputes about the effects of human activities on climate and biodiversity, this author does not permit them to (ii)__________ his comprehensive description of what we know about our biosphere. He emphasizes the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations, and the (iii)__________, calling attention to the many aspects of planetary evolution that must be better understood before we can accurately diagnose the condition of our planet.


Blank (i)

Blank (ii)

Blank (iii)

A) overshadowed

D) enhance

G) plausibility of our hypotheses

B) invalidated

E) obscure

H) certainty of our entitlement

C) illuminated

F) underscore

I) superficiality of our theories



The overall tone of the passage is clearly complimentary. To understand what the author of the book is being complimented on, it is useful to focus on the second blank. Here, we must determine what word would indicate something that the author is praised for not permitting. The only answer choice that fits the case is "obscure," since enhancing and underscoring are generally good things to do, not things one should refrain from doing. Choosing "obscure" clarifies the choice for the first blank; the only choice that fits well with "obscure" is "overshadowed." Notice that trying to fill blank (i) without filling blank (ii) first is very hard—each choice has at least some initial plausibility. Since the third blank requires a phrase that matches "enormous gaps" and "sparseness of our observations," the best choice is "superficiality of our theories."

Thus the correct answer is overshadowed (Choice A), obscure (Choice E), and superficiality of our theories (Choice I).



In parts of the Arctic, the land grades into the landfast ice so _______ that you can walk off the coast and not know you are over the hidden sea.


A) Permanently

B) Imperceptibly

C) Irregularly

D) Precariously

E) Relentlessly



The word that fills the blank has to characterize how the land grades into the ice in a way that explains how you can walk off the coast and over the sea without knowing it. The word that does that is "imperceptibly"; if the land grades imperceptibly into the ice, you might well not know that you had left the land. Describing the shift from land to ice as permanent, irregular, precarious, or relentless would not help to explain how you would fail to know.

Thus the correct answer is imperceptibly (Choice B).

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