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ISEE instructor Terri K. shows you how to find links in sentence completions to help you solve challenging sentence comp qs.
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What was your biggest takeaway from this video tutorial about how to find links in sentence completions to help you solve challenging sentence comp qs? Do you have any question for Terri and Alexis Avila?
SAT Verbal Instructor Terri of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts gives a comprehensive overview of the four most important SAT sentence completion strategies.
1. Use logic to predict the missing word
2. Find the clues in the sentence
3. Determine the connotation of the missing word
4. Plug in the answer choice and eliminate
Bonus Tip: Remember to always read the sentence after you have selected your answer choice to see if it makes sense!
Do you struggle with sentence completions? Which of Terri’s SAT sentence completion strategies did you find most helpful?
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By Terri K., ISEE Test Prep Instructor, Prepped & Polished, LLC
The ISEE has a Verbal Reasoning section that contains 20 sentence completions. These questions are designed to test a student’s vocabulary and reasoning ability. Each sentence completion item consists of a sentence with one missing word or pair of words followed by four potential answer choices. The student is the “detective” who must decipher the clues and select the correct word or pair of words that most appropriately completes the context of the sentence (keeping the sentence clear, logical, and consistent in style and tone). Sentence completion questions are arranged in order of difficulty from easiest to hardest. (Tip: Sentence completion questions come after synonym questions in the ISEE Verbal Reasoning section, but you can choose to do these questions first if you find them easier to answer).
Here are some tried and true tips and elimination strategies that will help you to more quickly attack and master the 20 sentence completions, since you only have approximately 30 seconds for each question:
1) A Strong Vocabulary: First and foremost, a strong vocabulary is an essential skill for the ISEE sentence completions. The best way to prepare and to strengthen vocabulary is to read all types of material as part of your daily routine. Take the time to look up unfamiliar words that you encounter and to make flashcards. Making connections with words helps to remember them (include definition, sentence, root, history, and even a picture, synonym or trigger word as a memory aide).
2) Look for Familiar Word Parts (Roots, Prefixes): Knowing roots of words is a great aid in figuring out correct answers. Again, looking up words in the dictionary and adding roots to your flashcards will make a huge difference. For example: the root MOR (or MORT or MORS) means death in Latin. Now, even if you do not know the definition, you can more confidently guess the meaning of words such as mortuary (dead bodies are kept in a mortuary), mortician (prepares dead bodies for a funeral), immortal (cannot die). Other common roots are sub (under as in subterranean or submarine), extra (beyond – as in extraterrestrial), terra (Earth – as in terrain), geo (earth, ground as in geology), mar (sea as in maritime), anima (spirit as in animated), mal (bad as in malevolent).
3) First Step – Read the sentence to get overall meaning; cover up answer choices until you find the clue(s) in the sentence: Mentally fill in the blank(s) with your own answer that makes sense. Then, find the answer choice that is closest in meaning to your own answer. You might be surprised to find the exact word that you had in mind. Select that as your answer. If the word you thought of is not a choice, look for a synonym of that word. Eliminate any that are definitely wrong; it is often easier to eliminate wrong answer choices than to pick the right choice. If you still have choices left, guess among the remaining possibilities. Sometimes it is enough to know that the blank requires a word that means something good (positive) or something bad (negative). Note: To assist you in finding the right answer among the answer choices, one-word answers are listed alphabetically and two-word answers are listed alphabetically by the first word.
Always ——-, the journalist actively questioned the relevant viewpoints on both sides of the issue.
When reading this sentence, you might recognize that the journalist is fair and unbiased. “Impartial” (choice C) is a synonym for fair.
4) Signal Words: There is almost always a word that obviously points to the correct answer. These signal words are clues that can aid you in figuring out what the sentence actually means.
– Support Signals – look for words/phrases that indicate that the blank continues a thought developed elsewhere in the sentence (examples: and, moreover, in addition, furthermore). A synonym or near-synonym should provide the correct answer. Example:
Mr. Jones is an intelligent and ——– teacher: his knowledge is matched only by his concern for his students.
(choice A) caring is the answer, a synonym for concern.
– Contrast Signals – look for words/phrases that indicate a contrast between one idea and another (examples: but, although, however, even though, despite)
Although much of the worst pollution has been ——- in the United States, traces of many toxic chemicals still ——-.
(A) discussed . . . escape
(B) eliminated . . . persist
(C) exaggerated . . . remain
(D) foreseen . . . arise
(choice B) is the correct answer. “Although” is the clue that indicates a contrast and signals you to look for words with opposite or different meanings (eliminated, persist).
– Cause and Effect Signals – look for words/phrases that show that one thing causes another (examples: because, since, for, therefore, as a result, due to, though).
Because Martha was naturally ——-, she would see the bright side of any situation, but Jack had a ——- personality and always waited for something bad to happen.
(choice C) is the correct answer. “Because” is the clue that indicates cause and effect. Note: The word “but” indicates a contrast between Martha and Jack’s personalities.
5) Take One Blank At A Time: Double-blank sentences can seem daunting, but they are actually easier because they supply more clues. After you read through the entire sentence for meaning, insert the first word of each answer pair in the sentence’s first blank. Does it make sense? If not, you can eliminate the entire pair. Next, check out the second word of each of the remaining answer pairs. Both words must make sense when used together.
The skydiver was ——- to survive after his parachute operated ——-.
(choice D) is the correct answer. It is the only choice where both words make sense.
6) Eliminating/Guessing: Even if you can’t eliminate any choices, you should guess. There is no guessing penalty on the ISEE. Never leave a question blank. Of course, eliminate before you guess using the strategies that you have learned. On sentence completions, you are looking for the best answer, so use the clues that must be there, in order for the question to have one answer that is better than the others. If you only have a minute left and you are not yet done, fill in all remaining sentence completions.
Summary – 6-step strategic plan to answer sentence completion questions:
– Read the sentence to get the overall meaning.
– Look for clue words that show how sentence parts are related.
– Use the clue words to anticipate the answer based on the relationship indicated.
– Read the answer choices and select the best one.
– Check your answer by reading the sentence with your answer choice in place.
– If you still cannot determine the best answer, eliminate answer choices that clearly do not make sense. Then guess from among the remaining answer choices.
Which level of the ISEE are you getting ready for? Did you find these tips helpful?
Terri graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Connecticut, with a dual degree in Education and English. She has 15 years of teaching and tutoring experience as a licensed teacher (Grades 5-12). Terri works with students from elementary school through college, and serves as an incredible resource when it comes to preparing for standardized tests (SAT, ACT, SSAT, ISEE, MCAS). em>
Josh Ochs of Media Leaders interviews Alexis Avila Founder of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts. Alexis list his favorite seven tips for teens preparing for the SAT Test.
Tip 1: Take Advantage of Free SAT Material on the Web
Tip 2: Buy the Official College Board Study Guide
Tip 3: Understand the SAT Format
Tip 4: Don’t spend too much time on Sentence Completions
Tip 5: Skip around a little on the math fill-in section
Tip 6: Wake up early Saturday morning for two months
Tip 7: If you get stumped, circle the question, then move on
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Full Word-for-Word Transcription
Josh: Hello and welcome to Media Leaders. In this video we want to
show you seven SAT tips for teens. I’m honored to have Alexis Avila, the
founder of Prepped and Polished with me today, Alexis welcome to the call.
Alexis: Thanks for having me Josh.
Josh: Well it’s an honor to have you here. Let’s jump right in to the
good stuff, you’re going to walk us through seven tips for people that are
taking their SAT. Can you tell us what you’re going to teach us?
Alexis: I’m going to teach you how to take advantage of free stuff so
you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for tutoring. I’m going to tell you
about buying a key book for SAT. Walk you a little bit through the SAT
format. Talk a little bit about sentence completion, just some insider tips
on the math fill-ins. How to wake up early, you know really get primed and
ready. And also lay a cool strategy for an SAT.
Josh: Sweet. Walk us through the first one.
Alexis: All right. So SATs, you’ve got to take advantage of free stuff
out there, okay? There’s a lot of free stuff that you can study with. Khan
Academy.com, great videos to help you with problems that are found in the
old official college course study guide. CollegeBoard.org go to it
immediately, sign up for the question of the day, have it delivered to your
in box, SAT problem, free, again. Quizlet.com, you want to practice your
SAT vocab, you don’t have to buy books in the book store for that, go to
Quizlet.com, it’s all free. Free SAT vocab, practice and take quizzes.
Josh: Great resources. Walk us through the next tip?
Alexis: Okay. So you’ve got to buy the official college board study
guide whether you work with a tutor or independently. It has the most
realistic practice tests possible in this book, there’s ten of them. And I
recommend that you get through as many practice tests as possible. And make
sure that you time yourself when you take these practice tests. And if you
want to get explanations for the questions found in the SAT official
college board study guide, purchase Tutor Ted’s SAT Solution Manual, it’s
not perfect but it’s pretty much the only one out there, the only book out
there that actually has an explanation for each question found in the
official college board SAT study guide.
Josh: That’s super helpful. Walk us through the next one.
Alexis: Okay. Understand the SAT format, okay? This is what I do with
all my students to get them feeling confident and knowing what to expect.
First, section one and section ten are always the same section. Section
one, essays, section ten, short grammar writing section. The next level of
predictability is found in section eight, nine, and ten. Those are always
the shortened versions of the critical reading math, and like I said
section ten is also a short grammar writing section. Section two through
seven, not as much predictability but guaranteed in those sections your
going to find two critical reading long sections, 25 minutes, two math long
sections, 25 minutes, and one long, 25 minute, writing grammar section. And
then you’ll have one experimental section.
Also, know the nuances within each section, and learn how to pace for
them. So for example, the two long critical reading sections, one of those
long critical reading sections has eight sentence completions as opposed to
five sentence completions on the other one. So there’s a different kind of
pacing structure that you should learn. So that’s what I have to say about
the SAT format. I could go on forever about it.
Josh: That’s good to know. Take us on to the next one.
Alexis: Okay. Get to the critical reading. So don’t spend too much time
on those sentence completion questions folk. Why? It’s simple, it’s math,
there’s 19 sentence completions versus 48 reading comprehension questions.
If you get complacent and smug, and take your sweet old time doing those 19
sentence completion questions you’re going to have five minutes left to do
all that reading. You don’t want to be in that pickle. So trust your gut,
study your vocab, get through those sentence completion questions
relatively fast so you can have ample time to do the reading questions.
Scan the questions first when you at the critical reading, scan the
questions first, mark up the passage that answers the specific question on
the fly as you’re reading, it’s like an open book test. And the at the very
end, answer all the general questions, answer those last. It will make
sense because you can only answer general questions once you have the full
scope of the passage.
Josh: Wow, that’s really helpful. Walk us through the next one?
Alexis: All right. We’ll skip around, here’s a little insider technique
for you. Skip around on the maths fill in, the long 25 minute math fill in
section, where you have eight multiple choices and then ten fill-ins after.
Why? Because on the SAT you want to answer all the easy immediate questions
before you tackle the hard ones. Well the order of difficulty goes from
easy to hard, from one to eight multiple choice, and then they get easy
again. So I recommend that you do the first five or six multiple choice
questions, just take a quick glance at number seven and eight multiple
choice which are the hard ones, and if they’re too hard just circle them
and go right to those easy fill-ins, take care of those, and at the very
end go back to those last two multiple choice questions.
Josh: I love it. That’s really helpful. Very counter intuitive. Walk
us through the next tip?
Alexis: Yep. Okay. Well this is kind of like another tip, I really
believe that kids have to develop a routine going into the SAT. So I
recommend you wake up early for at least two months before, each Saturday
leading up to the test. Up to two months before that. The key is to build
your confidence. It’s to build a consistent study program if you want to
get your confidence going up. So you want to wake up early for two months
so you get used to doing SAT problems early in the morning. Again, now
while you’re waking up Saturday, I want you to eat a good healthy breakfast
devoid of fatty foods. Find a quiet study area free of distractions. Have a
nice stop watch so you can pace yourself. And waking up early means go to
bed early too.
Josh: So smart, very true. Walk us through the next tip?
Alexis: Okay. Stumped? Circle the question. The tip is basically this,
the SAT is a marathon, it’s not a sprint, which basically means that you
want to keep moving at a nice steady pace, you don’t want to cram and
agonize over question number one. If you can’t answer it you circle that
question and you keep moving. If you spend more than a minute on a problem
it’s probably a good indicator that you’re kind of going about the problem
the wrong way. You circle that problem and then you keep moving to the next
question. Answer as many questions as you can, and then at the very end
with a fresh set of eyes you go back to the questions that you circled
along the way, tackle those, that’s the way to go.
Josh: That’s super helpful. well walk us through what you’ve taught
Alexis: Okay. well I basically taught you to take advantage of all the
free SAT material on the web, you know you don’t have to spend a gazillion
dollars on SAT preps, there’s a lot of free stuff out there. And if you do
spend a gazillion dollars on SAT prep, fine, but also take advantage of the
free stuff. Buy the official college board study guide, that is basically
the number one and number two key resource you can buy. Everyone uses it,
buy it. Understand the SAT format. I don’t know about you but I feel more
confident when I know what to expect going into game day. Understand the
SAT format. Don’t spend too much time on sentence completion questions,
because there’s more, the lion’s share of those questions in the critical
reading section are critical reading questions themselves. Skip around a
little in the math fill-in section. Take care of the easy and medium
questions first. And then wake up early Saturday morning for the next two
months leading into the test so you get accustomed to what it’s like to
work your brain with multiple choice questions early in the morning. And
finally, if you get stumped circle the question and keep on moving, the
test is a marathon not a sprint.
Josh: Wow this has been really helpful. Alexis, thank you so much for
joining us today.
Alexis: My pleasure Josh. I’m humbled. Thank you very much.
Josh: Thank you. And those of you that are watching this video, click
the links below this video and in the area below, and you can learn more
about Alexis and his company Prepped and Polished. Thank you everybody for
being a part of Media Leaders. Have a great day, and as always, keep it
light, bright, and polite.
Are you preparing for the SAT? Which tip do you find most helpful?
Post your tips/comments below.
Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished shows you how to master SAT sentence completion questions.
First: Read the sentence and blanks, and look for clues in the sentence.
Second: Use the sentence clues to help you predict the missing words.
Third: Eliminate unlikely answer choices.
Fourth: Choose the answer choice that best fits the words you are looking for.
Fifth: Jot down all the vocabulary words you didn’t know and memorize them.
Now you go to all your answer choices and eliminate any word that does not
fit these two words that we’re looking for. In choice E, does apologetic
come anywhere close to the word intelligent? No, it does not, X that out.
In choice D, for the second blank, does imposing come anywhere close to the
word humble? Not at all, get rid of choice D.
Now if you go to choice B, you might not know what the word perspicacious
means, but you certainly know that unpretentious is very close to the word
humble. Now perspicacious, by the way, actually means having or showing
discernment and acuity, so it’s a perfect fit. We’re going to go for choice
Now the last thing that you always want to do with sentence completion
questions is you want to jot down all the vocabulary words you didn’t know.
In this question alone, there’s about ten vocabulary words that you can
jot down, find the definitions, make flashcards, and memorize them. The
more vocabulary words that you learn, the better you’ll do on sentence
completion questions. So do these things, and I guarantee you’ll improve
your score. Good luck.
Did you find this sentence completion technique helpful? How do you tackle sentence completion questions?
Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished discusses vocabulary memorization shortcuts for the SAT test.
First: Complete the vocabulary quizzes and tests in Word Smart and Word Smart 2 Books by The Princeton Review.
Second: Transfer words you don’t know onto a list.
Third: Make vocabulary flashcards from this list.
Fourth: Memorize the vocabulary flashcard stack.
Fifth: Come back to the vocabulary flashcard stack a few days later to make sure the words stick.
Did you find this vocab memorization technique helpful? Do you suggest others? Give us a call for more tips on how to improve SAT vocabulary