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Tips and Strategies for GRE Sentence Completion Questions

1) Always work with the easier blank first. Often, you can eliminate one or two answer choices simply because the "easy" word in the pair doesn't fit.

2) If you can't predict an answer, quickly plug the five answer choices into the sentence. Many times, you can eliminate a few choices that don't "sound correct" in context.

3) Identify the crucial clues in the sentence. These sentences are never vague; each will include adjectives or descriptive terms that indicate the meaning of the missing word.

4) Look for what is directly implied or stated by the sentence. Each presents a complete thought and the missing words support that thought.

5.) Look for structural words that will help you find the right answer:

a) If the second part of the sentence supports or elaborates on the first part, it will invariably include words like: and, similarly, in addition, since, also, thus, because, likewise, consequently

b) If the second part of the sentece deviates or contradicts the first part, it will inevitably include words like: but, despite, yet, however, unless, rather, although, while, nevertheless

In statements with two blanks, these structural words help to determine whether the two words are synonyms or antonyms. Use the relationship between the two words ro help select the correct answer choice.

6) Don't be intimidated by odd or unusal words. The sentence completion questions aren't designed to test vocabulary, yet they will often contain somewhat difficult words. Rely on the content of the sentence to determine their meaning. In nearly all problems, the definition of the word is given or strongly implied in the sentence. In sentences with two blanks, you will usually know the meaning of at least one of the two words in each answer choice. This is usually enough to help you accept or reject the answer choice.

7) If a sentence is long, meandering or otherwise complex, paraphrase it to get the gist. Consider the author's tone or attitude. Then, search the answer choices for the correct words.

8) Always read your choice back into the original sentence to verify that it makes sense.

9) Quickly eliminate choices that are not grammatically correct.

10) Always check all five answer choices. Sometimes more than one choice will theoretically "fit" the sentence, but one fits better than the others. Your job is to identify the BEST choice.