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SAT Sentence Completion Tips and Advice

The good news is that there are some pretty well-defined procedures for tackling the SAT sentence completions.

Read the sentence carefully for meaning

You are never going to determine the answer until you understand the question. Think about the sentence means and what part of speech is necessary to correctly complete the sentence.

Think of an answer that makes sense before you read the choices

What word or words could complete the sentence? You just may see your choice below. This exercise will help you to analyze the sentence and, should your choice not be found in the answer choices, begin to reexamine the question in case you misinterpreted the “clue” word.

Be on the look out for clue words

Clue words indicate the types of answer choices that will best fit in the sentence and can indicate directional changes to the sentences’ structures.

Examples of clue words include:

  • however
  • because
  • although
  • so
  • for

Every SAT sentence has at least one clue word. Nearly every answer choice will appear correct if you do not find the clue word. This is why it is so imperative that you find the clue words before you look at the answer choices.

Watch out for negative clue words such as not, un-, none, etc.

Always read all 5 answer choices

The SAT wants you to select the best answer choice in the sentence completion section and, if you are strapped for time and you select “A” because it works without checking the other choices, it just may be that answer choice “E” was an even better selection.

Use process of elimination

This is especially true of the questions with 2 blanks. This essentially doubles the chances you will know at least one of the 2 words in the answer choices and that you can eliminate the choice from consideration if the words do not make sense.

Whenever you can eliminate at least one choice, it makes sense to take an educated guess at the answer!

Study your vocabulary

  • As we mentioned on the sentence completion “home page”, there really aren’t that many vocabulary words the SAT test writers like to utilize. You can buy a good SAT vocabulary study book through us at the SAT Books and Study Aids web page.

  • You can use the roots, suffixes, and prefixes to help you understand the meaning of the answer choices.

  • Beware of similar sounding words such as abrogate and abdicate and disparage and disparity.

Time management tips

  • The questions are all worth the same number of points and they become more difficult as you progress through the test. If you are spending too much time on the first sentence completions, you are not going to have the time to allocate to the more difficult questions.

  • Don’t waste time wondering exactly why nonsensical answers don’t make sense

Where to go from here:

Are you ready to try some practice questions? Click here to see our SAT sentence completion practice questions.