Practice Problems
7.1 SC X-Ray
 
7.2 SC Fundamentals
 
 
7.3 SC Step Method
 
7.4 Practice Problems
 
Practice Problems
Figure out where you stand by trying these SCs.

Directions: Each sentence below has one or two blanks, each blank indicating that something has been omitted. Beneath each sentence are five words or sets of words. Choose the word or set of words for each that best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

1. Although critics are quick to point out that the media is biased and subjective, its supporters maintain that one would have difficulty finding a convenient source that is more ________.
(A) credible
(B) lucid
(C) convoluted
(D) entertaining
(E) underrated
2. Previous theories explained the phenomenon through logical, scientific reasoning; today, perhaps surprisingly, ________ theories are in favor.
(A) pragmatic
(B) impecunious
(C) irresolute
(D) shocking
(E) paranormal
3. No one but the most astute collector would have appraised the recent piece so highly; all previous work by the artist was considered ________, and it would have been natural to assume this latest entry was no exception.
(A) Machiavellian
(B) insipid
(C) praiseworthy
(D) beautiful
(E) urbane
4. Ashley’s work ethic was never in doubt, and she performed even ________ tasks with ________.
(A) indubitable . . alarm
(B) reckless . . zeal
(C) officious . . hesitation
(D) formidable . . alacrity
(E) multifaceted . . perfidy
5. Supporters of physiognomy claim that experts can predict people’s ________ characteristics, such as a predisposition to violence or tendency toward self-deprecation, by ________ facial features or body structure.
(A) inherent . . dismissing
(B) cogent . . recognizing
(C) psychological . . scrutinizing
(D) sensory . . mimicking
(E) extant . . insinuating
Guided Explanations
1. A
Step 1: Find the Keywords. The keywords here are biased and subjective.
Step 2: Look for Road Signs. The road sign is although, which indicates that the blank slightly contrasts with the first part of the sentence.
Step 3: Make a Prediction. The road sign combined with the keywords indicate that the correct answers will mean something along the lines of unbiased and objective.
Step 4: Compare Your Answer(s) to the Answer Choices. Of the answers given, credible is the only reasonable choice.
Step 5: Plug It In. Plugging this word back into the original sentence confirms that A is correct.
2. E
Step 1: Find the Keywords. The keywords here are stark and scientific.
Step 2: Look for Road Signs. Here, the road signs are previous and today. There’s been a change between the way things used to be and the way things are now.
Step 3: Make a Prediction. The road signs combined with the keywords indicate that the correct answers will mean something along the lines of illogical and unscientific.
Step 4: Compare Your Answer(s) to the Answer Choices. The closest answer choice is paranormal.
Step 5: Plug It In. Plugging paranormal back into the sentence confirms that the logic of the sentence holds up with this word inserted. Thus, E is correct.
3. B
Step 1: Find the Keywords. This SC is a little trickier than the previous two. What words are crucial to this sentence’s meaning? No one but the most astute collector would have appraised the recent piece so highly certainly gives us a clue about the rest of the sentence.
Step 2: Look for Road Signs. The sentence has one road sign, previous, but you might find it difficult to determine just how this word is used. Not to worry—a careful reading of the sentence will still allow you to make a prediction for the correct answer.
Step 3: Make a Prediction. Now we have to consider what the previous pieces must have been like for it to take a rare person (astute collector) to appraise the recent piece so highly. If all the previous work had been excellent, many people—not just a few smart collectors—would probably appraise a recent piece highly. For it to take a rare person to see the value of the current work, the previous pieces were probably not excellent.
Step 4: Compare Your Answer(s) to the Answer Choices. Of the answers given, insipid, which means “dull,” is the best choice.
Step 5: Plug It In. Inserting insipid into the original sentence confirms that B is the correct answer.
4. D
Step 1: Find the Keywords. The keywords here are never in doubt. What was never in doubt? Her work ethic.
Step 2: Look for Road Signs. Since there are no road signs, the sentence is going to go in one direction, from start to finish.
Step 3: Make a Prediction. We’ll start with the easier blank. This is a matter of personal choice, obviously, but most people would probably find the second blank to be easier. In what manner does a person with a great work ethic perform tasks? With enthusiasm or willingly are reasonable guesses.
Now for the first blank. What kinds of tasks would this person perform with enthusiasm (our prediction for the second blank)? Well, technically speaking, she’d perform just about any task in such a manner. But the sentence has to reinforce this person’s great work ethic. Having her perform difficult tasks would accomplish this.
Step 4: Compare Your Answer(s) to the Answer Choices. For the second blank, we predicted with enthusiasm or willingly. Alacrity (“eagerness”) works. Among the choices for the first blank, formidable has a meaning most similar to difficult, our prediction.
Step 5: Plug It In. Plugging formidable and alacrity back into the original sentence produces a perfectly logical, clear result, and so D is correct.
5. C
Step 1: Find the Keywords. The keywords are predict characteristics, which tell us a bit about what the supporters claim. What kind of characteristics? That’s the essence of the first blank, and a clue is provided by a handy road sign, so let’s head to Step 2.
Step 2: Look for Road Signs. The road sign such as indicates that examples of the characteristic in question are about to emerge: a predisposition to violence or tendency toward self-deprecation.
Step 3: Make a Prediction. The examples given don’t sound like physical characteristics; they sound like things that go on inside our heads, like mental or emotional states. That’s a good prediction for the first blank. As for the second blank, what can one do to facial features to make such a prediction? Probably study them, or something along those lines.
Step 4: Compare Your Answer(s) to the Answer Choices. Given our predictions, psychological seems like a good bet for the kinds of characteristics the author is talking about, and scrutinizing, meaning “analyzing” or “studying,” seems to work for the second blank.
Step 5: Plug It In. Inserting the words in choice C into the sentence as written produces a clear, logical thought.
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