Sentence Equivalence Questions

Like Text Completion questions, Sentence Equivalence questions test the ability to reach a conclusion about how a passage should be completed on the basis of partial information, but to a greater extent they focus on the meaning of the completed whole. Sentence Equivalence questions consist of a single sentence with just one blank, and they ask you to find two choices that lead to a complete, coherent sentence while producing sentences that mean the same thing.

Question Structure

  • Consists of:
    • a single sentence
    • one blank
    • six answer choices
  • Requires you to select two of the answer choices; no credit for partially correct answers.

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 answer 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, either because they emphasize the structure of the sentence (words like although or moreover) or because they are central to understanding what the sentence is about.
  • Try to fill in the blank with a word that seems appropriate to you and 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 answer 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.

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