Sentence Completion – Using Root Words

Sentence completion questions are a big part of the critical reading portion of the SAT and you can do much better on this section by using root words correctly. Yesterday’s post used the root word “phil” but do you know these words?


Even without knowing the exact meaning of the words, if you get the basic meaning behind the words by knowing the root word “phil.” If nothing else, you can guess the words are positive and that can be a big help on the critical reading sentence completion section. Look at the following sentence completion question:

The philologist helped the college student as she worked her way through her thesis; she had  ________________________ for every word of the ancient texts they used.

(A)  discord
(B)  reverence
(C)  joy
(D)  trepidation
(E)  solitude

In this case, because the first part of the sentence is positive, and there are no opposite direction trigger words, the second sentence (or the second part of the sentence since it was joined by the semi-colon, a same direction trigger) is also positive.

Just from knowing this we can eliminate choices (A) and (D) and probably (E) as well. From there (C) just doesn’t make as much sense, but even if we did not know the meaning of philologist or reverence, we have a 50-50 chance of getting the correct answer. We should guess quickly and move on.

You can answer many sentence completion questions simply by knowing root words and other word parts and using smart elimination strategies.

Contact The Right Path for more smart test taking techniques.