In the name of ALLAH, the most beneficient, the most merciful

Sentence Equivalence (Verbal Reasoning)

Sentence Equivalence is an old favourite and fill-in-the-blank question. There are some variations on this familiar form. Although the packaging varies but the task remains same. This type of questions are vocabulary questions, but actually, they require more than just knowing the meaning of the words. Such type of questions ask you to find out the similarity between the words.

The basic skills necessary for these questions are a strong college- or graduate-level vocabulary and the ability to distinguish similarities and differences between words or ideas.

To get credit for answering a Sentence Equivalence question correctly, you must come up with not one correct answer choice, but two correct answer choices that work equally well.


Each question consists of:

  • 1 sentence
  • 1 blank
  • 6 choices

You are required to select two of the answer choices; no credit for partially correct answers.


For the following 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.

Analysis of Directions

To answer this type of short question correctly, you must come up with a pair of words, both equally fit to complete the meaning of the sentence as a whole. If someone fails to get both answers correct, he/she gets no credit for the question.

A Sentence equivalence question looks like this:

The medical researchers replied to the charge that their proposed new treatment was _________ by demonstrating that it in fact observed standard medical practices.

  1. deleterious
  2. untested
  3. unorthodox
  4. expensive
  5. intricate
  6. unconventional

The medical researchers defined their new treatment by saying that in follows accepted, standard practices. What, therefore, must have been the critic's charge or accusation about the treatment? They must have alleged it was nonstandard, violating acceptable medical practices. The two words that best complete this sentence are unorthodox and unconventional.

Suggestions with Examples

Before you look at the sentence, look over the answer choices to locate any obvious synonyms.

Your task is to find two words that can complete the sentence in thought and style, and that can function interchangeably in the context. In other words, you may be looking for synonyms; you definitely are looking for words that complete the sentence in the same fashion.

before you look at the sentence itself, examine the answer choices. See if you can spot a pair of synonyms. Then substitute these two words in the sentence. If both make logical sense in the context, you may well have found your answer pair. To check yourself, look over the other four choices. Try each of them in the sentence. Satisfy yourself that the synonyms you spotted work better than any of these other words.

Here are six answer choices to a sentence equivalence question.

  1. extravagant
  2. tawdry
  3. parsimonious
  4. optimistic
  5. profligate
  6. pedestrian

Extravagant and profligate are synonyms; both mean spendthrift or wasteful.

Now here is the sentence. Do the synonyms that you spotted work in this context?

Although the young duke's trustees had tried to teach him fiscal prudence, they feared he would never learn to curb his ________ ways.

Clearly, they do. If the young duke has not learned to be careful about his finances, it is understandable that his trustees might worry about his inability to curb or restrain his profligate and extravagant ways.

NOTE: Be very careful when you apply this suggestion. The test-makers are very aware that some examinees simply scan the answer choices looking for synonyms. Therefore, they will deliberately plant obvious synonym pairs among the answer choices. These eye-catchers or distractors are there to trick the unwary. Because you will recognize these words as synonyms, you may want to select them without reading the sentence closely. However, the test-makers are not testing your knowledge of vocabulary per se. They are testing your reading comprehension. The words you choose do not have to be synonyms. However, they must both make sense in the sentence in an equivalent way.

If you fail to detect a pair of synonyms right way, read the sentence and think of a word that makes sense.

This suggestion is helpful because it enables you to get a sense of the sentence as a whole without being distracted by any misleading answers among the answer choices. You are free to concentrate on spotting key words or phrases in the body of the sentence and to call on your own "writer's intuition" in arriving at a stylistically apt choice of word. See how the process works in a typical model question.

Because experience had convinced her that Hector was both self-seeking and avaricious, she rejected the possibility that the motivation behind his donation had been wholly ________.

  1. redundant
  2. frivolous
  3. egotistical
  4. ephemeral
  5. altruistic
  6. benevolent

This sentence presents a simple case of cause and effect. The key phrase here is self-seeking and avaricious. The woman has found the man to be selfish and greedy. Therefore, she refuses to believe his motivation for donating money can be ________. She expects selfishness (self-seeking) and greed (avaricious), not their opposite.

You are looking for words that are antonyms for selfish. What words immediately come to mind? Selfless, generous, charitable? The missing words are, of course, altruistic and benevolent, They are the correct answer pair.

Consider secondary meanings of the answer choices as well as their primary meanings.

Suppose you have found one answer choice that perfectly fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole but cannot find a second answer choice that seems exactly right. Remember that these words or phrases may have multiple meanings. Think of contexts in which you have heard these words or phrases used. That may help you come up with additional meanings for them.

See how this suggestion helps in answering the following sentence equivalence question.

Snakes are the most stationary of all vertebrates; as long as a locality ________ them a sufficiency of food and some shelter to which they can readily retreat, they have no inducement to change it.

  1. provides
  2. constitutes
  3. affords
  4. denies
  5. disallows
  6. withholds

Snakes tend to be stationary creatures. Why? They stay put because a particularlocality meets their needs: it provides or offers them food and shelter. Look at the other answer choices. Denies, disallows and withdraws are all negative terms; none of them seen appropriate in this context. After all, if a locality denied or disallowed the snakes food and shelter or withheld food and shelter from them, that would not be an inducement or incentive for the snakes to stay put. Likewise, constitutes (composes; establishes) does not seem appropriate in the context. It feels awkward, even ungrammatical (the verb does not normally take an indirect object).

Only affords is left. Here it clearly is not used with its primary meaning, "to be able to meet the expenses of", as in affording to buy a new car. Try to think of other contexts for afford. "It affords me great pleasure to be here." "Gustavo's Facebook entries afford us a glimpse into the daily life of a musician on tour." These sentences use afford with a secondary meaning: to give, offer, or provide. The correct answers to this sentence equivalence question are affords and provides.

Look at all the possible choices before you choose an answer pair.

Never decide on your answer before you have read all the choices. You are looking for two words that both make sense in the sentence. What is more, not only do both these words have to make sense in the sentence, but they have to make the same kind of sense. You have to be able to substitute one for the other in the sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

In order to be sureyou have not been hasty in making your decision, substitute all the answer choices for the missing word. Do not spend a lot of timedoing so, but do try them all. Then decide which two of these words function in the same way. Thats way you can satisfy yourself that you have come up with the best possible pair. See how this suggestion is helpful in the following example:

The evil of class and race hatred nust be eliminated while it is still in ________ state; otherwise, it may grow to dangerous proportions.

  1. an amorphous
  2. an overt
  3. a rudimentary
  4. a threatening
  5. an independent
  6. an embryonic
Watch for signal words that link one part of the sentence to another.
Use your knowledge of word parts and parts of speech to get at the meanings of unfamiliar words.

Solved Examples