As I watch my husband and sons prepare to attend Monday night football, I am reminded that the sentence completion section of the SAT is like a football game: to win, you must go on the offensive. Too many students make the mistake of passively “listening” to how each possible word choice sounds in the sentence, rather than actively finding the right answer. Like the quarterback who “checks down,” eliminating receivers who are covered by the defense, you must eliminate incorrect answer choices that don’t fit. Here’s how to win the sentence completion game:
1. Read the sentence.
2. Decide first whether you are looking for a positive or a negative word.
3. Go on the offensive: think about what word you would use before you even look at the answer choices. For double blank questions, attack one side at a time. The second blank is often easier, so start there.
4. Go through the answer choices, from A to E, in order.
5. As you move through, eliminate incorrect answers. If you are looking for a positive word, eliminate all negative or neutral choices. If you are looking for a negative word, eliminate all positive or neutral choices.
By focusing on negative and positive, you can cut your work in half (and save your brain power for the reading passages!). Eliminating half of the choices will help you pick the best answer, regardless of whether you know the meanings of all the words.
So, be like the Bears (sorry Jets fans): go on the offensive and defeat the sentence completion section.