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How to Approach the Questions

Every sentence contains hints that will help you select the correct answer. Each of the following strategies will help you decipher those hints, but remember that any given question might require you to use more than one approach:

  1. Predict the best fit for the sentence
  2. Identify the indicators
  3. Use connotation
  4. Select an answer

Predict the Best Fit for the Sentence


Before you look at the answer choices, think of a word that “Fits” the sentence. CAT sentence completion questions usually test the standard meaning of a word. Pay attention to the logic and context of the sentence. Try to predict a word to insert in the blank or blanks as you read the sentence, and then look for your word or a synonym of your word among the answer choices. A synonym is a word with the same or a similar meaning. You should also look for antonyms, which are words that have the opposite meaning of your predicted word. If you locate any words among the answer choices that have a meaning opposite to the word that you would like to insert in the blank, eliminate those answer choices.


Crestfallen by having done poorly on the CAT, Gaurav Karanwal began to question his abilities. His self-confidence was ______
(a) appeased
(b) destroyed
(c) placated
(d) elevated
(e) sustained


If somebody is crestfallen (despairing) and has begun to question herself, then his self-confidence would be destroyed. Hence, option (b) is the answer.

Identify the Indicators

Indicators tell you what is coming up. They indicate that the question setter is now moving to draw a contrast with something stated previously, or support something stated previously.

  1. Contrast Indicators
    Why do we contrast two things? We contrast two things to point out how they differ. In this type of questions, we look for a word that has the opposite meaning of key word or phrase in the sentence. Following are some of the most common contrast indicators:
But Yet
Despite Although
However Nevertheless


Although the warring parties had settled a number of disputes, past experience made them ______ to express optimism that the talks would be a success.
(a) rash
(b) ambivalent
(c) scornful
(d) overjoyed
(e) reticent


“Although” sets up a contrast between what has occurred—success on some issues—and what can be expected to occur—success for the whole talks. Hence, the parties are reluctant to express optimism. The common word “reluctant” is not offered as an answer-choice, but a synonym—reticent—is. Hence, option (e) is the answer.

  1. Support Indicators
    Supporting words support or further explain what has already been said. These words often introduce synonyms for words elsewhere in the sentence. Following are some common supporting words:





In Addition




Neha is an opprobrious and ______ speaker, equally caustic toward friend or foe—a true curmudgeon.
(a) lofty
(b) vituperative
(c) unstinting
(d) retiring
(e) laudatory


“And” in the sentence indicates that the missing adjective is similar in meaning to “opprobrious,” which is very negative. Now, vituperative—the only negative word—means “abusive.” Hence, option (b) is the answer.

  1. Cause and Effect Indicators
    These words indicate that one thing causes another to occur. Some of the most common cause and effect indicators are






If, Then



Because the House has the votes to override a presidential veto, the President has no choice but to ______
(a) object
(b) abdicate
(c) abstain
(d) capitulate
(e) compromise


Since the House has the votes to pass the bill or motion, the President would be wise to compromise and make the best of the situation. Hence, option (e) is the answer.



Man has no choice but to seek truth, he is made uncomfortable and frustrated without truth—thus, the quest for truth is part of what makes us ______.
(a) noble
(b) different
(c) human
(d) intelligent
(e) aggressive


If man has no choice but to seek truth, then this is an essential characteristic of man. In other words, it is part of what makes us human. Hence, option (c) is the answer.



Though he claimed the business was ______, his irritability ______ that claim.
(a) sound, belied
(b) expanding, supported
(c) downsizing, vindicated
(d) static, contradicted
(e) booming, affirmed


If the business was not sound, his irritability would belie (contradict) his claim that the business was sound. Hence, option (a) is the answer.

Use Connotation

Each word expresses two things: a definition and a connotation. A connotation is a positive, negative, or neutral feeling that is implied by or associated with a word. Although context is the part of a sentence that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines its meaning, connotation refers to the emotion that is suggested by the word itself. 

Example :
The adjective “thrifty” implies a positive connotation, whereas the adjective “cheap” implies a negative connotation. Both words have similar definitions, but very different connotations.


Using connotations can help you determine the correct answer or at least eliminate a few wrong answers.


Because of his ______, Rahul’s guests felt very welcome and comfortable staying at his house for the weekend.
(a) animosity
(b) hospitality
(c) determination
(d) wittiness
(e) severity


The sentence has a positive connotation-Rahul’s guests feel welcome and comfortable. In addition, the transition “because” indicates that something that belongs to Rahul has caused his guests to feel welcome and comfortable. “Animosity” and “severity” have a negative connotation and “determination” has a neutral connotation. “Hospitality” and “wittiness” both have positive connotations, but “hospitality” best fits the context of the sentence. Hence, option (b) is the answer.

Select an Answer

Analyze the tone of the statements-look at the answer choices – and then try to predict an answer. Though you must consider all of the choices before you confirm your answer, even if your predicted answer is among the choices. The difference between the best answer and the second best answer is sometimes very subtle. When you think that you have the correct answer, read the entire sentence to yourself, using your choice(s).

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