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 28 – 32 in Essential define and illustrate 50 of the top 100 Level 4 words tested on the SAT. Here are 15 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. During the last few years many ambitious entrepreneurs have ____
working for established companies, preferring instead to create their
own start-up businesses.

(A) embraced
(B) reaffirmed
(C) eschewed
(D) festered
(E) vindicated

2. Some mistook Matthew’s ____ for arrogance because he was exceptionally
talented, they assumed he was ____.

(A) precocity .. cavalier
(B) reticence .. aloof
(C) churlishness .. vindictive
(D) conviviality .. frivolous
(E) mendacity .. flippant

3. The tutor’s comments on Morgan’s practice essay were both ____ and
____: they lacked depth and were purely routine.

(A) evocative .. fortuitous
(B) superficial .. perfunctory
(C) earnest .. prescient
(D) profound .. cursory
(E) desultory .. meticulous

4. Baz Luhrmann’s film The Great Gatsby is a powerful ____: it calls forth
the extravagant sights and sounds that made the Roaring Twenties such a
memorable decade.

(A) demarcation
(B) exhortation
(C) compunction
(D) evocation
(E) vindication

5. Saying that all the leading economic indicators were favorable, Varun
announced that it was an ____ time to launch his new Internet company.

(A) enigmatic
(B) perfunctory
(C) quiescent
(D) auspicious
(E) arduous

6. After a long ____ day of intensive studying for a series of difficult exams,
Vivian felt completely ____ and just wanted to get some well-deserved

(A) acrimonious .. indefatigable
(B) benign .. indomitable
(C) futile .. exhilarated
(D) arduous .. enervated
(E) effortless .. galvanized

7. Historians praise the settlement house movement for successfully using
English and vocational classes to ____ the condition of the urban poor in
late 19th century America.

(A) ameliorate
(B) bemoan
(C) stigmatize
(D) reaffirm
(E) evoke

8. Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin was ____; he was actually
investigating the properties of staphylococci at the time.

(A) clandestine
(B) premeditated
(C) tenuous
(D) inadvertent
(E) lighthearted

9. Negotiations between the two nations soon became so ____that
reaching any agreement was inconceivable: they had reached ____.

(A) fortuitous .. a conundrum
(B) rampant .. an edict
(C) rancorous .. a resolution
(D) amicable .. a conjecture
(E) acrimonious .. an impasse

10. The renowned science fiction writer had a well-deserved reputation for
creating ____ characters whose puzzling actions were shrouded in

(A) execrable
(B) condescending
(C) enigmatic
(D) blithe
(E) caustic

11. Both ____ and ____, the tour guide’s descriptions of the royal family and
their historic place were long, boring, and surprisingly shallow.

(A) tedious .. superficial
(B) realistic .. reassuring
(C) provocative .. profound
(D) indispensible .. superfluous
(E) monotonous .. euphemistic

12. Gertrude Stein helped ____ the development of early 20th century avant-
garde artists by promoting, displaying, and purchasing their works.

(A) stigmatize
(B) eschew
(C) foster
(D) circumscribe
(E) confound

13. Although cats are as ____ as many other animals, some people think of
them as solitary creatures.

(A) reclusive
(B) multifarious
(C) sedentary
(D) malevolent
(E) gregarious

14. Novelist David Fan is well known for creating profoundly moving
characters who experience epiphanies, unexpected moments of sudden
inspiration, that help them overcome tragic situations.

(A) demarcations
(B) epiphanies
(C) reaffirmations
(D) litanies
(E) debacles

15. Cedric was bewildered by the unexpected turn of events, so ____ that he
did not know what to think, say, or do.

(A) consoled
(B) habituated
(C) confounded
(D) mollified
(E) exhilarated


1. C The key phrase “preferring instead” leads you to ESCHEW (Word
326) because ambitious entrepreneurs prefer to avoid or forgo
established companies.
2. A The key definitional phrase “exceptionally talented” leads
you to PRECOCITY and the key definitional word “arrogance”
leads you to CAVALIER. The correct answer is therefore
PRECOCITY (Word 305) .. CAVALIER (Word 131).
3. B The key definitional phrase “they lacked depth and were purely
routine” leads you to SUPERFICAL (Word 304) .. PERFUNCTORY
(Word 318) as the correct answer.
4. D The key definitional phrase “calls forth the extravagant sights and
sounds” leads you to EVOCATION (Word 302) as the correct answer.
5. D The key definitional word “favorable” leads you to AUSPICIOUS
(Word 301) as the correct answer.
6. D This sentence asks you to find a logical cause-and-effect relationship
between the two correct answers. For example, a FUTILE day would
not lead Vivian to feel EXHILARATED. The correct answer is
ARDUOUS (Word 325) .. ENERVATE (Word 271) because a long
ARDUOUS day would lead Vivian to feel ENERVATED and
ready for some “well-deserved rest.”
7. A The key word “praise” signals that you should look for a positive
word to describe the impact of the settlement house movement on
the urban poor. Only AMELIORATE (Word 312) meets this test.
8. D Alexander Fleming’s discovery is best described as INADVERTENT
(Word 317) because he was actually investigating the properties of
something else when he accidentally discovered penicillin.
9. E The key phrase “reaching any agreement was inconceivable” tells
you to look for a negative first word. Both (C) RANCOROUS and
ACRIMONIOUS meet this test. The key phrase “agreement was
inconceivable” eliminates A RESOLUTION in choice (C) and leads
you to choice (E) AN IMPASSE. The correct answer is therefore
ACRIMONIOUS (Word 346) .. IMPASSE (Word 324).
10. C The key definitional phrase “puzzling actions were shrouded in
mystery” leads you to ENIGMATIC (Word 303) as the correct
11. A The key definitional phrase “long, boring, and surprisingly shallow”
leads you to TEDIOUS (Word 32) .. SUPERFICIAL (Word 304) as the
correct answer.
12. C The key definitional phrase “promoting, displaying, and
purchasing” indicates that Gertrude Stein’s actions were very
positive. This leads you to FOSTER (Word 334) as the correct answer.
13. E The key reversal word “although” signals that you should look for
an answer that is the opposite of the key word “solitary.” The correct
answer is therefore GREGARIOUS (Word 323).
14. B The key definitional phrase “unexpected moments of sudden
inspiration” leads you to EPIPHANIES (Word 349) as the correct
15. C The key definitional word “bewildered” and the key phrase
“did not know what to think, say, or do” lead you to
CONFOUNDED (Word 342) as the correct answer.

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