The Essential 500 Words provides you with definitions and illustrations of 500 key words frequently tested on the SAT. These words will help you become a more articulate writer and speaker. The Essential 500 Words is more than just a vocabulary book. In order to achieve a high score on the SAT it is not enough to simply learn vocabulary words. You must also know how to apply them to sentence completion questions. Chapters 15 – 17 in Essential define and illustrate the top thirty pairs of synonyms and antonyms. Here are 10 practice sentence completion questions that will test your ability recognize and use these words. Essential provides a 6 chapter tutorial on sentence completions that includes 3 full practice tests.

1. The divisive bill ignited a ____ national debate that inflamed ____
passions on all sides of the issue.

(A) measured .. fervent
(B) subdued .. histrionic
(C) tendentious .. partisan
(D) contentious .. innocuous
(E) indifferent .. indignant

2. Paradoxically, this successful and popular politician is publicly
egalitarian and privately surprisingly ____.

(A) compassionate
(B) savvy
(C) elitist
(D) theoretical
(E) droll

3. The Slovak Republic was formed by negotiation and compromise, not
by conquest and ____.

(A) coercion
(B) conciliation
(C) irreverence
(D) histrionics
(E) platitudes

4. Although segregationists repeatedly tried to ____ his progress, Jackie
Robinson overcame their racially imposed obstacles and in 1947
succeeded in becoming the first African American to break Major League
Baseball’s color barrier.

(A) exhort
(B) foster
(C) underscore
(D) revitalize
(E) thwart

5. The child is given to emotional excesses: she can be disturbingly agitated
one moment and completely ____ the next.

(A) adamant
(B) irreverent
(C) histrionic
(D) unflappable
(E) theoretical

6. Picasso’s ____ for drawing manifest itself at an early age: when he was
just two year’s old, Picasso preferred drawing to writing and even talking.

(A) aversion for
(B) predilection toward
(C) indifference toward
(D) listlessness for
(E) ineptitude at

7. Bob’s ____ attitude demonstrated in his constant refusal to follow
instructions, made him a source of ____ for his coaches.

(A) intransigent .. inspiration
(B) pliant .. irritation
(C) reflective .. rumination
(D) jovial .. annoyance
(E) recalcitrant .. exasperation

8. Brandon was ____ and even merciless person; he had none of his
sister’s ____.

(A) a vindictive .. spite
(B) a ruthless .. compassion
(C) a cavalier .. haughtiness
(D) an urbane .. sophistication
(E) an imperturbable .. equanimity

9. Despite their attempt to maintain the appearance of ____, Ethan and
Olivia could barely suppress the underlying ____ that divided them.

(A) affability .. esteem
(B) reconciliation .. forgiveness
(C) collegiality .. enmity
(D) melancholy .. conviviality
(E) discretion .. civility

10. A model of ____ behavior, Rohan generously forgave former opponents
who had insulted him.

(A) irreverent
(B) overwrought
(C) magnanimous
(D) esoteric
(E) intransigent


1. C The key word divisive tells you that the first word will either be
TENDENTIOUS or CONTENTIOUS. Since the debate “inflamed
passions” there must be a cause and effect relationship between
the correct answers. You can eliminate Choice D since a
CONTENTIOUS debate would not lead to INNOCUOUS or
harmless passions. Only choice (C) TENDENTIOUS (Word 151) ..
PARTISAN (Word 152) establishes a logical cause and effect
2. C The reversal word PARDOXICALLY signals that you should look
for an answer that is the opposite of the key word EGALITARIAN.
The correct answer is therefore ELITIST (Word 193).
3. A The key reversal word “not” signals that you should look for an
answer that is the opposite of the key words “negotiation” and
“compromise.” The correct answer is therefore COERCION
(Word 190).
4. E The key phrase “racially imposed obstacles” signals that
THWART (Word 179) is the correct answer.
5. D The key phrase “emotional excesses” signals that you should
look for an answer that is the opposite of “disturbingly agitated.”
The correct answer is therefore UNFLAPPABLE (Word 172)
6. B The key word “preferred” leads you to the correct answer
7. E The key definitional phrase “constant refusal to follow instructions”
leads you to either INTRANSIGENT or RECALCITRANT for the
first blank. The second blank must be filled by a word that is a
logical consequence of being either INTRANSIGENT or
RECALCITRANT. The correct answer is therefore RECALCITRANT
(Word 146) .. EXASPERATION (Word 427).
8. B The key definitional phrase “merciless person” leads to
VINDICTIVE, RUTHLESS, or even CAVALIER for the first blank.
The reversal phrase “he had none of his sister’s” indicates that
that the second blank requires a word that is the opposite trait
of the first blank. The correct answer is therefore RUTHLESS
(Word 187) .. COMPASSION.
9. C The key phrase “despite their attempt” signals that you should
look for a pair of antonyms. The key definitional phrase “that
divided them” signals that the second word must be negative. Only
answer choice (C) COLLEGIALITY .. ENMITY (Word 143) meets
these tests.
10. C The key definitional phrase “generously forgave” leads you to
MAGNANIMOUS (Word 181) as the correct answer.

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