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 33 – 38 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. Dismayed coaches reprimanded Jonah for ____ decisions that ____
his leadership by casting doubts on his ability to act with careful

(A) egregious .. enhanced
(B) impulsive .. discredited
(C) audacious .. underscored
(D) prudent .. undermined
(E) capricious .. vindicated

2. The new personnel officer vowed to eliminate the insensitive,
outrageous, and at times ____ violations of basic rules of courtesy that
plagued his predecessor’s administration.

(A) vivacious
(B) fastidious
(C) onerous
(D) egregious
(E) anthropomorphic

3. The autocratic government enforced repressive policies that became
so repulsive that dissidents demanded that the detestable officials be
promptly removed for their ____ actions.

(A) execrable
(B) shrewd
(C) impulsive
(D) insipid
(E) assiduous

4. The College Board insists that its procedures for grading AP essays are
very ____, readers must follow detailed procedures that are very strict.

(A) rancorous
(B) skewed
(C) enthralling
(D) untenable
(E) stringent

5. Never ____, Ankit treated everyone he knew with respect and

(A) tactless
(B) onerous
(C) visceral
(D) discreet
(E) drab

6. Charita’s tweets are ____ to ____ because they have a tendency to be
unclear and open to more than one interpretation.

(A) disposed .. frankness
(B) disinclined .. altruism
(C) prone .. ambiguity
(D) susceptible .. rancor
(E) opposed .. notoriety

7. The controversial positions taken by the third-party candidate were both
____ and ____: they were unnecessary and indefensible.

(A) superfluous .. untenable
(B) indispensable .. unorthodox
(C) redundant .. sustainable
(D) egregious .. execrable
(E) vital .. discredited

8. Emily was a remarkably ____ commodities trader: she impressed her
clients with her quick thinking, clever calculations, and astute judgment.

(A) impulsive
(B) snide
(C) tactless
(D) distraught
(E) shrewd

9. Junko Tabei, the world’s first woman to reach the summit of Mount
Everest, was considered ____ because she boldly chose a risky little-used
path to the summit.

(A) opaque
(B) overbearing
(C) perfunctory
(D) audacious
(E) dilatory

10. Opened in 1872, Yellowstone National Park established a model of
park design that other impressed nations rushed to ____.

(A) discredit
(B) eschew
(C) emulate
(D) undermine
(E) admonish

11. Paradoxically, the governor was both ____ and ____: she was publicly
full of charm and personal magnetism and privately uninteresting and

(A) pedestrian .. banal
(B) elitist .. supercilious
(C) charismatic .. insipid
(D) enchanting .. enthralling
(E) snide .. sardonic

12. Although alarmed ornithologists reported a ____ of bald eagles in
in the contiguous United States in the 1950s, they now optimistically
report that populations are beginning to ____ due to the banning of
DDT and other strict protective measures.

(A) dearth .. proliferate
(B) paucity .. shrink
(C) profusion .. expand
(D) plethora .. migrate
(E) scarcity .. regress

13. In the years following Richard Nixon’s resignation, public response to his
presidency has oscillated between ____ for his bold role in promoting
better relations with China and ____ for his covert role in trying to
cover-up the Watergate scandal.

(A) indifference .. apathy
(B) condemnation .. abhorrence
(C) plaudits .. acclamation
(D) acclaim .. disdain
(E) indignation .. antipathy

14. The YouTube video was both ____ and ____: although instructional, it
was surprisingly touching.

(A) exorbitant .. frugal
(B) superficial .. lugubrious
(C) didactic .. poignant
(D) empirical .. pragmatic
(E) erudite .. inane

15. Because Myra had always been shy and even ____, her ____ attitude
during the college admissions interview came as a complete and
unpleasant surprise.

(A) audacious .. timid
(B) fastidious .. exacting
(C) aloof .. detached
(D) diffident .. overbearing
(E) vivacious .. lighthearted


1. B The key words “dismayed” and “reprimanded” tell you to look
for a negative word to describe Jonah’s decisions. EGREGIOUS,
possible answers. Jonah’s poor decisions had a negative effect
on his leadership. Only answer choice (B) provides you with
two negative answers that fit the sentence. The correct answer is
therefore IMPULSIVE (Word 354) .. DISCREDITED (Word 376).
2. D The key words “insensitive” and “outrageous” lead you to
describe the previous administrator’s behavior as EGREGIOUS
because it violated “basic rules of courtesy”. The correct
answer is therefore EGREGIOUS (Word 397).
3. A The key words “repulsive” and “detestable” lead you to
describe the actions of the autocratic officials as EXECRABLE
(Word 364).
4. E The key phrase “detailed procedures that are very strict” leads you
to STRINGENT (Word 391) as the correct answer.
5. A The key reversal word “never” signals that you should look for an
answer that has the opposite meaning of treating everyone “with
respect and consideration.” The correct answer is therefore
TACTLESS (Word 369).
6. C The best strategy for this question is to begin with the second blank.
The key definitional phrase “unclear and open to more than one
Interpretation” leads you to AMBIGUITY. The correct answer is
Therefore PRONE (Word 387) .. AMBIGUITY (Word 351).
7. A The key definitional word “unnecessary” leads you to either
SUPERFLUOUS or REDUNDANT. The key definitional word
“indefensible” leads you to UNTENABLE. The correct answer is
therefore SUPERFLUOUS (Word 385) .. UNTENABLE (Word 386).
8. E The key definitional phrase “quick thinking, clever calculations, and
astute judgment” lead you to SHREWD (Word 365) as the correct
9. D The key definitional phrase “boldly chose a risky little-used path”
leads you to AUDACIOUS (Word 355) as the correct word to
describe Junko Tabei.
10. C The key phrase “model of park design that other impressed nations”
signals that you should look for a positive answer that means
imitate. EMULATE (Word 374) is therefore the correct answer.
11. C The word “paradoxically” signals that you should look for a pair of
answers that have opposite meanings. The key definitional phrase
“full of charm and personal magnetism” leads you to either
CHARISMATIC or ENCHANTING. The key definitional phrase
“uninteresting and bland” leads you to INSIPID. The correct answer
is therefore CHARISMATIC (Word 242) .. INSPID (Word 361).
12. A The key word “alarmed” leads you to look for a negative first word.
A DEARTH, PAUCITY, or SCARCITY of bald eagles would all
alarm ornithologists. The key word “optimistically” and the strict
new “protective measures” all lead you to look for a positive second
word. The correct answer is therefore DEARTH (Word 384) ..
13. D The key word “oscillate” signals that you should look for a pair
of antonyms to describe public responses to Richard Nixon’s
presidency. The key phrase “bold role” leads you to either
PLAUDITS or ACCLAIM for the first word. The key phrase
“covert role” leads you to look for a negative second word. Only
answer choice D meets these tests. The correct answer is therefore
ACCLAIM (Word 398) .. DISDAIN (Word 66).
14. C The key definitional word “instructional” leads you to DIDACTIC,
EMPIRICAL or possibly ERUDITE. The key phrase “surprisingly
touching” leads you to POIGNANT. The correct answer is therefore
DIDACTIC (Word 53) .. POIGNANT (Word 368).
15. D The key word “shy” leads you to either ALOOF or DIFFIDENT for
the first blank. The second blank must be filled with a word that
would come as a “complete and unpleasant surprise” to a college
admission officer. Since OVERBEARING means arrogant and
disdainful it would be incongruous with Myra’s normally
DIFFIDENT manner. The correct answer is therefore DIFFIDENT
(Word 6) .. OVERBEARING (Word 377).

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