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Sentence Equivalence Question Types

by Professor Dave

Sentence Equivalence questions are much like the Text Completion questions we just covered. They test the ability to reach a conclusion about how a sentence should be completed on the basis of partial information. But to a greater extent Sentence Equivalence questions focus on the meaning of the sentence as a completed whole.

Sentence Equivalence questions consist of a single sentence with just one blank, and you are asked to find two answer choices that lead to a complete, coherent sentence while producing sentences that mean the same thing.

The Sentence Equivalence Question:
1. Consists of a single sentence, one blank, and six answer choices.
2. Requires you to select exactly two of the answer choices.
3. Provides no credit for partially correct answers.

ETS Tips for Answering:

  • Do not simply look among the answer choices for two words that mean the same thing. This can be misleading for two reasons:
    First, the choices may contain pairs of words that mean the same thing but do not fit coherently into the sentence.
    Second, the pair of words that do constitute the correct answer may not mean exactly the same thing, since all that matters is that the resultant sentences mean the same thing.
  • Read the sentence to get an overall sense of it.
  • Identify words or phrases that seem particularly significant. These words may emphasize the structure of the sentence (words like “although” or “moreover”) or may be central to understanding what the sentence is about.
  • Try to fill in the blank with a word that seems appropriate to you. Then see if two similar words are offered among the answer choices. If you find some word that is similar to what you are expecting but cannot find a second one, do not become fixated on your interpretation; instead, see whether there are other words among the choices that can be used to fill the blank coherently. When you have selected your pair of answer choices, check to make sure that each one produces a sentence that is logically, grammatically and stylistically coherent, and that the two sentences mean the same thing.
Sentence Equivalence examples:
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