Sentence Completion question tests your ability to use your vocabulary and understanding of logical composition of
the sentence. You need to know not only the dictionary meaning but also the logical and stylistic sense of the sentence.
It means that this section tests your ability to complete sentences with a word or words that retain
the meaning of the sentence and are compatible with given syntax and grammar cues.
Sentences are composed of a number of words and ideas that are connected to one another in various ways. You are to
figure out how the parts of the sentence are connected.
Each blank in the following sentences indicates that something has been omitted.
Considering the words beneath the sentence, choose the word or set of words that
best fits the whole sentence.
Analysis of Directions
Note that you must choose the best word or words. In many cases several choices
might fit, but you are to select the one that fits the meaning of the sentence most
precisely. If the sentence contains two blanks, remember that both of the words
must fit. To understand the concept better, consider the followings:
Connections and Signals
Most often, some signal words or clause connect the parts of the sentence These signal words are called "indicators".
Let us discuss some high frequency connections and indicators used in sentence completion section of the test.
(i) Cause and Effect:
In this type of sentence, one part of the sentence describes something that causes something in the other part of
Rizwana always wins the debate competition because she works ________ to prepare the topic.
B. The first part of this sentence describes something -
always win the debate competition
- that is caused or influenced by what's described in the second part. Think over it, "What causes to win the
competition?" Only the word "hard" is the correct choice.
The two parts of the sentence are connected by the word "because" that indicates the cause and effect composition of
Indicators for Cause and Effect
- so that
- in order to
In this type of sentence, one part of the sentence expresses an idea that is opposite to the idea in another part
of the sentence.
Zahid looks a noble person but he always becomes ________ any good deed.
- supporter of
- obstacle for
- swift to do
- promoter for
B. Here in this example the signal word "but" indicates a contrast in the 2nd part of the sentence.
Apparently, noble looking person should do wrong in the 2nd part of the sentence. Hence, the right choice is "obstacle
Indicators for Contrast
- on the other hand
- on the contrary
- instead of
In this type of sentence, one part of the sentence expresses an idea, and the other part gives the explanation,
elaboration or an example of that idea.
Lahore city council representative promised that he would consider all suggestions from down town residents and
that he was willing; not only to discuss his proposal, but also to ________ it.
A. The structural construction of the sentence "not only ... but also" that the same idea should be in the
"but also" part.
Indicators for Similarity
- not only...but also
- in the same way
- in the same way
- for example
- for instance
- such as
In this type of sentence, one part of the sentence rephrases or repeats what is expressed in other part of the
Just as people of Multan are doing there best to eradicate the social evils like family marriages, so the people of
Bahawalpur are making efforts ________ the penetration of foreign culture in their social norms.
- to absorb
- to accept
- to normalize
- to stop
D. The composition of "just as ... as" leads towards restatement of the idea. What the people of Multan are
doing the people of Bahawalpur are doing the same thing. This is the restatement of the idea.
Indicators for Restatement
- that is
- just as ... as
- in short
- in fact
Suggestions with Examples
After reading the sentence and before looking at the answer choices, think of
words you would insert and look for synonyms to them.
Money ________ to a political campaign should be used for political
purposes and nothing else.
How would you fill in the blank? Maybe with the word given or donated?
Now look at the choices and find a synonym for given or donated:
The best choice is C contributed; it is the nearest synonym to given or donated
and makes good sense in the sentence.
Although it was not apparent at the time, in ________ we can see how
Miles Davis’ performances in the 1970s were ________ by what was happening then in popular music.
- retrospect . . . influenced
- effect . . . modified
- fact . . . unchanged
- foresight . . . endangered
- time . . . engendered
The best choice is A retrospect . . . influenced. After reading the sentence, you may decide that the phrase
not apparent at the time would suggest looking back for the first blank and that
the second word needs to be affected. You could read the sentence “Although it
was not apparent at the time, in looking back we can see how Miles Davis’ performances
in the 1970s were affected by what was happening then in popular music.”
Now, looking for synonyms for looking back and affected gives you choice
A retrospect . . . influenced.
Look for signal words connecting contrasting ideas. Spotting signal words in
the sentence can be invaluable. Some signal words, such as however, although,
on the other hand, but, instead, despite, regardless, rather than, and
except, connect contrasting ideas.
Most candidates spend ________ they can raise on their campaigns, but
others wind up on election day with a ________.
- so . . . bankroll
- time . . . vacation
- everything . . . surplus
- every cent . . . deficit
- nothing . . . war chest
The best choice is C everything . . . surplus. But signals that the first half of the sentence contrasts with
the second half. The fact that most candidates spend everything (and end up with
nothing) contrasts with those who end up with a surplus.
Can public opinion be influenced so that it ________ rather than
encourages the proliferation of the sale of firearms?
The best choice is D impedes. The clue here is rather than encourages. You need a verb
whose object is proliferation and that means the opposite of encourages. The best
choice is impedes, which means obstructs or retards. To invert is to turn upside down.
Surfing was once a sociable pastime, but now joining another surfer on a
wave is ________ as heinous as cutting off another driver on the highway.
- an occasion
- an offense
- an adage
- a discourtesy
- an amenity
The best choice is B an offense. The first clause of the sentence contrasts a time when surfing
was sociable with the present, so the last half of the sentence must describe an
antisocial action. The word but tips off the contrast. Choices B an offense and D a
discourtesy are the only two that contrast with sociable. An offense is the better
choice, because a discourtesy is not strong enough to fit well with heinous (shockingly evil).
Notice signal words connecting similar ideas. Other signal words, such as in
other words, besides, and, in addition, also, therefore, furthermore, and as,
often connect similar ideas.
The tools found in the New Mexico excavation are ________ as a single
implement might have several edges, each with a different use.
The best choice is D versatile. The tools the sentence describes have several edges and several
uses, and the missing adjective should fit these conditions. Versatile means
capable of many things.
This treatise is concerned only with the process unique to the period in
question; therefore, no attempt has been made to ________ phenomena
________ to that era.
- include . . . unrelated
- omit . . . irrelevant
- re-create . . . germane
- discuss . . . essential
- evaluate . . . pertinent
The best choice is A include . . . unrelated. The words in the first half of the sentence that are especially
related to those to be filled in in the second half are is concerned only and unique
to the period. The verb in the first blank is parallel to is concerned and describes
the contents. Choices A include, D discuss, or possibly E evaluate are possible.
The second blank needs an adjective that will make the phrase ________ to that
era parallel to unique to the period. Choice B irrelevant would work, but only A
has the correct first word.
We need experiments to discover whether the systems that we have designed
that work in theory also work in ________, in other words, in the real world.
The best choice is B fact. The key words here are in other words, which tell you that
your choice must be similar to the real world. The terms in fact and in the real
world both refer to similar ideas in this sentence.
Focus on signal words that help define words. Still other signal words will actually
give you a definition or point you to the definition of the word needed.
The unique world of the film is ________, both wholly recognizable and
The best choice is A contradictory. The second part of this sentence, both wholly recognizable
and unfamiliar is a perfect example of the word needed, contradictory. The words
recognizable and unfamiliar contradict each other (are opposite).
Editorial cartoonists cannot be successful unless they can ________ the
consciences of their audience and stir up controversy.
The best choice is B tweak. The missing verb must mean something that will parallel stir
up. Of the five choices, only tweak (to irritate, pinch) will fit.
Along with a handful of other ________ the lawyer refuses to believe the
evidence submitted by the FBI.
The best choice is E skeptics. The last half of the sentence describes a reluctance to
believe-the action of a skeptic.
Watch for contrasts between positive and negative words. Look for words like not, cannot, never, and no.
A virtuous person will not shout ________ in public; he or she will
respect the ________ of other people.
- obscenities . . . feelings
- loudly . . . comfort
- anywhere . . . presence
- blessings . . . cynicism
- insults . . . threat
The best choice is A obscenities . . . feelings. The first blank is obviously a negative word, something that
a good person would not shout; the second blank is a positive word, something
that a good person would respect. Choice B is neutral-positive; C is neutralneutral;
D is positive-negative; E is negative-negative. Only choice A offers a negative-positive pair of words.
The chairperson was noted for not being obstinate; on the contrary, the
members praised her ________.
The best choice is E resistance. The correct answer must describe a praiseworthy quality opposite
to obstinacy. Although B and C are good qualities, only flexibility, E,
means pliancy, the quality of being flexible.
Malcolm did not ________ the filmed version of his novel but rather
________ it, because all the exciting parts that he had written were excluded.
- love . . . liked
- appreciate . . . was appalled by
- hate . . . detested
- approve . . . accepted
- dismiss . . . applauded
The best choice is B appreciate . . . was appalled by. The word not indicates that the first blank must be the opposite
of the second blank. Choices A, C, and D do not give opposites. Choices B
and E could both be seen as opposites, but only choice B makes sense in the sentence.
If all the exciting parts of the novel were left out, it’s reasonable to assume
that the author would not like (appreciate) that fact.
Negative words can change the direction of the sentence, sometimes making
the logic of the sentence more difficult to follow.
Tamino’s choice of the quest to rescue Pamina is ________, not
accidential, and he undertakes it with ________ and steadfastness.
- considered . . . trepidation
- circumstantial . . . valor
- intentional . . . reluctance
- deliberate . . . courage
- fortuitous . . . ardor
The best choice is D deliberate . . . courage. The adjective must be the opposite of accidental. The better
choices are the synonyms of A, C, and D-considered, intentional, and deliberate.
B and E do not fit this context. The second blank requires a noun that is like
steadfastness or describes a sterling quality. Choice A trepidation means fear or
hesitancy, and choice C reluctance means unwillingness. Neither will do, but D
courage is what is needed.
The room was in an advanced state of disrepair; not only were the velvet
draperies ________, but they were also mottled and ________.
- bright . . . torn
- old . . . clean
- faded . . . frayed
- new . . . mangled
- tattered . . . original
The best choice is C faded . . . frayed. The logic of this sentence could be difficult to follow because
of the negative wording. State of disrepair tips you off that both blanks
must be filled with negative words. Choice C faded . . . frayed is the only negative
pair. The words also fit the meaning in the sentence.
Questions with two words missing should be attempted one word at a
time. But remember that both words must fit.
The ________ predictions of greatly decreased revenues next year have
frightened lawmakers into ________ budget reductions.
- encouraging . . . sizeable
- convincing . . . minute
- alarming . . . negligible
- optimistic . . . huge
- dire . . . drastic
The best choice is E dire . . . drastic. Notice that trying the first word will help you eliminate answer
choices A, B, and D. If the predictions are of decreasing funds and frightening
to lawmakers, the first adjective must be either alarming C or dire E (fearful, dreadful). Now try the second choice to get the correct answer.
Because the lawmakers have been scared into action, you can infer that the reductions are drastic E rather than negligible C.
The government ________ that the new laws are necessary to prevent
unscrupulous business owners from ________ off the profits while the workers are underpaid.
- implies . . . dilating
- anticipates . . . privatizing
- infers . . . acquiring
- requires . . . living
- contends . . . siphoning
The best choice is E contends . . . siphoning. The only first words that make sense in the sentence are
choices A implies and E contends. But the second word in choice E, siphoning, is
the only one that fits. “Siphoning off profits” is a common phrase and is something
that unscrupulous business owners might try to do. Choice B anticipates
usually requires future tense, for example, “that the new laws will be necessary,”
so it is not a good choice.
Sometimes it is more efficient to work from the second blank first. If there are
two blanks, you can start by looking at the blank that seems easiest to fill.
The program, which ________ housing for disadvantaged families, should
be a tremendous ________ to the beneficiaries who are able to meet income requirements.
- allows . . . detriment
- provides . . . boon
- insures . . . expenditure
- includes . . . drawback
- eliminates . . . benefit
The best choice is B provides . . . boon. Because there are many possibilities for the first blank, you
may wish to start with the second blank. The phrase a tremendous ________ to
the beneficiaries tells you that this second blank must be a “positive” word, because
being a beneficiary (one who benefits) is positive. So you should look for a
positive second word and then try the first word. Choices B boon and E benefit
are the only two answers with second words that fit. Now take each choice and
see if the first word also fits. Choice B provides . . . boon (advantage) makes complete sense.
Although the second word in choice E fits perfectly, the first word doesn’t make sense in the sentence.
Again, keep in mind that each word must fit for the answer to be correct.
Her parents were ________ when, despite losing the first 3 games, Sally
________ to win the set by a 6-3 score.
- surprised . . . failed
- relieved . . . came back
- puzzled . . . refused
- alarmed . . . attempted
- delighted . . . was unable
The best answer is B relieved . . . came back. There are no clues here to tell you which of the first words
describes the reaction of the parents. Any of the five might work. But if you deal
with the second blank first, you can see that the word despite makes it clear that
Sally must win the set. Choice B came back looks like the best choice, although D
is possible. That B is better is confirmed by the first word, as relieved is better
The merger will eliminate ________ and provide more ________
cross-training of staff.
- profit . . . and more
- paperwork . . . or less
- duplication . . . effective
- bosses . . . wasteful
- competitors . . . aggressive
The best choice is C duplication . . . effective. The second blank is something that is provided. Chances are
that the something provided is a positive word, and effective seems like a good
choice. Reading choice C into the sentence, you will find that it makes good sense
and is stylistically and structurally correct.
If you don’t spot any signal words or you don’t know the meaning of some
of the choices (or if you’re just stumped) quickly read each answer choice
in and see which sounds best. Sometimes this last method will help you at
least eliminate some of the choices so that you can take an educated guess.
The fertile and productive fields are located at the ________ of the Gila
and the Arizona Rivers and are ________ by waters from both.
- junction . . . desiccated
- confluence . . . irrigated
- bank . . . drained
- source . . . submerged
- end . . . inundated
The best choice is B confluence . . . irrigated. The first word probably refers to the place where the rivers
are close, because the fields are watered by both. Except for C, any of the 4 nouns
is possible. Confluence means a flowing together, the place where two waterways
come together. The past participle must refer to the watering of these fertile lands.
So desiccated (dried up) or drained can be eliminated. If the fields are productive,
irrigated (supplied with water) makes better sense than inundated or submerged,
which suggest destructive flooding.
Many lawyers now believe that the ________ of the tobacco industry is so
widely ________ by the public that juries will finally be willing to convict the corporations when the cases go to trial.
- advertising . . . disseminated
- propaganda . . . credited
- repute . . . supported
- mendacity . . . queried
- guilt . . . acknowledged
The best choice is E guilt . . . acknowledged. If you quickly read each choice into the sentence, you’ll notice
that some of the choices just don’t seem to make sense, sound right, or fit.
Because the last part of the sentence says willing to convict the corporations when
the cases go to trial, the idea that the guilt is acknowledged sounds good and fits
A special reminder: Always read your answer into the sentence to make sure
it makes sense. This will often help you avoid oversights or simple mistakes.