SAT Reading Tips: Parts of Speech in Sentence Completion Questions

SAT Prep

The five answer choices following a Sentence Completion question stem always share the same part of speech. This rule is important to remember in the event you come across a question like the following:

speech 1
The first four answer choices are clearly adjectives, but the last one, Choice (E), appears to be a noun. After all, a pedestrian is a person who is walking.

Most students will prephrase boring or dull for the blank and fail to find a match among the first four adjective answer choices. They’ll assume that the College Board made a mistake using the noun pedestrian, so they will make a terrible guess and select (C), disagreeable. Since when did disagreeable start to mean dull?  They will be wrong, and rather than earning an easy point, they will lose a quarter of a point.

The College Board rarely makes mistakes and you should never assume that odd word out is a part of speech error. Instead, assume that this mystery word is the same part of speech as the other choices and therefore has a meaning you do not know. In this question, pedestrian is indeed an adjective meaning dull.

If you encounter a question like this one, you should be immediately suspicious that the answer choice with the seemingly different part of speech is the right answer. To confirm your suspicions, eliminate the other four choices.

It may also help to learn some uncommon definitions for common words. Consider the following examples:

This table provides a sampling of words acting as double agents. For more, check out the PowerScore Reading Bible.

PowerScore Practice Prep:
Can you spot the answer choice with the Double Definition?



speech 2Photo: Be different courtesy of Vassilis