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.
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 ________.
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.
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.
- an amorphous
- an overt
- a rudimentary
- a threatening
- an independent
- 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.