Verbal > Sentence Equivalence

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Like Text Completion questions, Sentence Equivalence questions test the ability to reach a conclusion about how a passage should be completed on the basis of partial information, but to a greater extent they focus on the meaning of the completed whole. Sentence Equivalence questions consist of a single sentence with just one blank, and they ask you to find two choices that both lead to a complete, coherent sentence and that produce sentences that mean the same thing.

Question Structure


  • Consists of:
    • a single sentence
    • one blank
    • six answer choices
  • Requires you to select two of the answer choices; no credit for partially correct answers.

These questions are marked with square boxes beside the answer choices, not circles or ovals.

Tips for Answering

Do not simply look among the answer choices for two words that mean the same thing. This can be misleading for two reasons. First, the answer choices may contain pairs of words that mean the same thing but do not fit coherently into the sentence, and thus do not constitute a correct answer. Second, the pair of words that do constitute the correct answer may not mean exactly the same thing, since all that matters is that the resultant sentences mean the same thing.

  • Read the sentence to get an overall sense of it.
  • Identify words or phrases that seem particularly significant
  • Think up your own words for the blanks.
  • Double check your answers.

Sample Questions

Select the two answer choices that, when used to complete the sentence, fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole and produce completed sentences that are alike in meaning.


Although it does contain some pioneering ideas, one would hardly characterize the work as __________.

  • A orthodox
  • B eccentric
  • C original
  • D trifling
  • E conventional
  • F innovative


The word "Although" is a crucial signpost here. The work contains some pioneering ideas, but apparently it is not overall a pioneering work. Thus the two words that could fill the blank appropriately are "original" and "innovative." Note that "orthodox" and "conventional" are two words that are very similar in meaning, but neither one completes the sentence sensibly.

Thus the correct answer is original (Choice C) and innovative (Choice F).


It was her view that the country's problems had been _______ by foreign technocrats, so that to ask for such assistance again would be counterproductive.

  • A ameliorated
  • B ascertained
  • C diagnosed
  • D exacerbated
  • E overlooked
  • F worsened


The sentence relates a piece of reasoning, as indicated by the presence of "so that": asking for the assistance of foreign technocrats would be counterproductive because of the effects such technocrats have had already. This means that the technocrats must have bad effects; that is, they must have "exacerbated" or "worsened" the country's problems.

Thus the correct answer is exacerbated (Choice D) and worsened (Choice F).


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