In general, when approaching text completions, you should try to come up with your own word(s) that fit in the blank. Only when you’ve done so, should you return to the blanks and plug them in to see if the sentence makes sense.
The exception to coming up with your own word(s) is when the sentence is really vague. In these cases you have to look at the relationship between the two blanks.
Let’s take a look below:
At times __________ , she could just as suddenly become _________, a change that, though in some ways welcome, was so unpredictable as to be jarring.
|(a) uncertain||(d) parsimonious|
|(b) morose||(e) selfish|
|(c) magnanimous||(f) jubilant|
The relationship between the blanks is that they are opposite, something you should be able to notice from the clue words, change and just as suddenly become…
On the other hand, if you were to spend time trying to come up with your own word for the blank, you could come up with a variety of different words for the first and second blanks, even if you know the two blanks are in opposition. Instead you should look at the pairs of answer choices that are antonyms. In the question above, we have morose, jubilant and magnanimous, selfish.
Now we need to pay closer attention to the sentence, specifically the last part, to note that the change is somewhat welcome. Therefore the second word has to be a positive word. So the answer is (B) morose and (F) jubilant.
Sometimes the relationship between the blanks is not as straightforward in a vague text completion. In these rare cases you will have to plug pairs of words into the two blanks, respectively, to see which pair makes the most sense. The good news with two and three-blank text completions, versus one-blanks, is that you only have three words for each blank – not five.
Try the following question:
To critics the author’s latest work was —-; with so few people purchasing the book, this reception proved to be —-.
|(a) disastrous||(d) poignant|
|(b) puzzling||(e) noteworthy|
|(c) captivating||(f) ironic|
This is a very vague text completion you can easily misinterpret if you plug in answer choices. In this case, however, you don’t have too many other options besides plugging and chugging, as it were.
One strategy is to note the relationship between the blanks. If the first blank is negative, then the second blank has to be something that reaffirms the critic’s reception (the book sold very poorly, after all). If the first word is positive, then the second blank is a word that shows the reception didn’t match the consumer’s behavior. Even this relationship is nowhere as straightforward as it was in the prior text completion.
So let’s plug in (A). If the work was disastrous would few people buying the book make the critic’s reception (A) poignant, (B) noteworthy, or (C) ironic? Well if it was disastrous and nobody bought the book it definitely wouldn’t be ironic. Would it be poignant, or emotionally touching? No. What about (B) noteworthy? Just because nobody bought the book after the critics panned it, does not make the critic’s reception noteworthy.
What about (B) puzzling? Puzzling is similar to, but not as extreme as, disastrous. Again, we are looking for a word that would be positive for the second blank. Emotionally moving doesn’t relate to puzzling nor does noteworthy.
So what about (C) captivating? Well, if the critics said the book was very gripping and interesting, i.e. captivating, then nobody ended up buying it, that development would be ironic.
As you can see, very vague sentence completions require a lot of patience. The key is not to become flustered because you feel the question can have more than one possible answer (that would make the question a Sentence Equivalence). Persevering and working logically through the different answer choices will help you on this very difficult type of text completion.