Skilled readers do not simply absorb the information presented on the page; instead, they maintain a constant attitude of interpretation and evaluation, reasoning from what they have read so far to create a picture of the whole and revising that picture as they go. Text Completion questions test this ability by omitting crucial words from short passages and asking the test taker to use the remaining information in the passage as a basis for selecting words or short phrases to fill the blanks and create a coherent, meaningful whole.

These questions consist of a short passage that contains one, two, or three blanks; each blank represents a word or short phrase that is missing from the passage. Students must select exactly one correct answer choice from among the three to five provided for each blank. A student does not receive credit for a Text Completion question unless he or she selects the correct answer choice for every blank in the passage.

Students must use contextual clues within the passage to determine which answer choice contains the word or words that most logically complete each blank. This question category tests the ability to recognize an author’s overall meaning or tone from the syntax of the written material. Success on these questions requires an understanding of the subtle shades of meaning that differentiate similar words.

Question Structure

Passage composed of one to five sentences

One to three blanks

Three answer choices per blank (five answer choices in the case of a single blank)

The answer choices for different blanks function independently; i.e., selecting one answer choice for one blank does not affect what answer choices you can select for another blank

Single correct answer, consisting of one choice for each blank; no credit for partially correct answers

Tips for Answering

Do not merely try to consider each possible combination of answers; doing so will take too long and is open to error. Instead, try to analyze the passage in the following way:

Read through the passage to get an overall sense of it.

Identify words or phrases that seem particularly significant, either because they emphasize the structure of the passage (words like although or moreover) or because they are central to understanding what the passage is about.

Try to fill in the blanks with words or phrases that seem to complete the sentence, then see if similar words are offered among the answer choices.

Do not assume that the first blank is the one that should be filled first; perhaps one of the other blanks is easier to fill first. Select your choice for that blank, and then see whether you can complete another blank. If none of the choices for the other blank seem to make sense, go back and reconsider your first selection.

When you have made your selection for each blank, check to make sure the passage is logically, grammatically and stylistically coherent.


posted in English Language Aug 3, 2016
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