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GRE: Tips for Sentence Completion

1. Look for key words and phrases in the sentence that tell you where the sentence is going. Is it continuing along one line of thought? If so, you’re looking for a word that supports that thought. Is it changing direction in midstream? If so, you’re looking for a word that sets up a contrast between the thoughts in the sentence.

Words signal blanks that go with the flow: and, also, consequently, as a result, thus, hence, so Words signal blanks that shift gears:but, yet, although, on the other hand, in contrast, however, nevertheless

2. To get your mental wheels turning and help you to “get into” the question, first think of your own words that complete the sentence at hand. Although you shouldn’t expect to find your words verbatim among the answer choices (most GRE Sentence Completion questions aren’t that easy), determining up front what sort of words you’re looking for will help you zero in on the best answer choice.

3. Don’t choose an answer to a dual-blank question just because one of the words is a perfect fit. As often as not, one word that fits perfectly is paired with another word that doesn’t fit well at all. This is the test-makers’ most common Sentence Completion ploy; don’t fall for it!

4. Check for usage and idiom problems if you’re having trouble homing in on the best answer. Sentence Completion questions cover not just overall sentence sense but also word usage and idiom (how ideas are expressed as phrases). So eliminate any answer choice that makes any part of the sentence confusing, awkward, or sound wrong to your ear.

5. In dual-blank questions, if you can eliminate just one of the words, the whole choice won’t work, so you can toss it out and go on.
Don’t confirm your response until you’ve considered each and every one of the five answer choices. Remember: The qualitative difference between the best and second-best answer choice can be subtle.