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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 Senate has the votes to override a presidential veto, the President has no choice but to________.

  1. object
  2. abdicate
  3. abstain
  4. capitulate
  5. compromise

Since the Senate has the votes to pass the bill or motion, the President would be wise to compromise and make the best of the situation.


The answer is (E).

A Note on Multiple Blank Questions
So far, we have applied the strategies discussed only to single blank questions. For questions with multiple blanks, these strategies will work as well.


However, once you have determined what you believe to be the correct answer for each blank, you will need to re-read the entire passage with each answer choice you have selected.

Sometimes, the answer to one blank affects the answer to another blank. In these instances, it may be best to answer the blanks out of order. Identify any blanks that do not seem dependent on the others, and answer this one first. Then, reread the entire passage with that blank filled in to answer the other blanks.


It is essential, however, for you to check your work on multiple blank questions. Re-read the entire sentence to ensure it makes sense before you submit your answer.


In Socrates’ famous allegory of the cave, he (1) ________ the reality of the physical world, claiming instead that truth is to be found in the (2) ________ world. In the allegory, cavemen sit and stare at shadows, believing the shadows to be reality, but only a philosopher can climb out of the cave to reach heights where one can observe true and perfect forms. Thus, enlightened men are (3) ________ to guide the unenlightened.

Blank 1 Blank 2 Blank 3
asserts metaphysical obligated
renounces sensual inept
enumerates political provoked

The first two blanks are very interrelated. The transitional word “instead” sets up a contradiction that is essential for both blanks. Focus on the phrase “claiming instead that truth is to be found...” In other words, truth is not to be found in the physical world. So, Socrates renounces the reality of the physical world. Re-read the first sentence now with “renounces” in the first blank.


The second blank is tricky. We can eliminate “sensual,” because that is too close in meaning to “physical,” and it’s supposed to be opposite. There is no justification in the sentence for “political” to be the answer. Metaphysical is the implied answer, as evidenced by the following sentence, which describes philosophers climbing out, attaining new heights. This imagery indicates a world higher than reality.


Finally, with the first sentence completed, one can read the entire passage and determine that Socrates has a positive view of philosophers, so he would likely believe that philosophers, or enlightened men, “should” or are obligated to guide the unenlightened. Rereading the passage, each of the answer choices makes sense in the passage as a whole.

Let’s try another example.


Political scientists seem to never settle the ongoing debate about the relative merits of various forms of government. Democracy is one of the most (1)___________ forms, spreading to more than sixty nations in the last two hundred years. However, despite its popularity, it is also (2)____________ for not offering sufficient political stability. In contrast, though oligarchies have a history of oppression, they are praised for their (3)____________; while democracies may take months to attain a majority vote to pass an urgent law, oligarchies have the power to pass it in days.

Blank 1 Blank 2 Blank 3
defunct lauded forbearance
prolific equivocated renown
culpable disparaged efficacy

The first blank is the easiest, as its answer is independent of the rest of the paragraph. We are now well-practiced enough in recognizing apposition to see that “spreading to more than sixty nations in the last two hundred years” clarifies or explains the first blank. If it has spread rapidly, then it is “prolific.”


For the second blank, recognize the signal word “however” and the key phrase “despite its popularity.” This lets us know there will be a contrast; while a positive attribute of democracy was just described, the next must be a drawback. Thus, it would be “disparaged” for not offering political stability.


The third blank uses apposition, as indicated by the semicolon following the blank. If oligarchies can pass laws in days as opposed to months, they would be lauded for their speed and effectiveness, or “efficacy.”


​This rather advanced grammatical structure is very common on the SAT. (Don’t confuse “apposition” with “opposition”: they have opposite meanings.)

Words or phrases in apposition are placed next to each other, and the second word or phrase defines, clarifies, or gives evidence to the first word or phrase. The second word or phrase will be set off from the first by a comma, semicolon, hyphen, or parentheses.  Note: If a comma is not followed by a linking word—such as and, for, yet—then the following phrase is probably appositional.

Identifying an appositional structure, can greatly simplify a sentence completion problem since the appositional word, phrase, or clause will define the missing word.

His novels are ________; he uses a long circumlocution when a direct coupling of a simple subject and verb would be best.

  1. prolix
  2. pedestrian
  3. succinct
  4. vapid
  5. risque

The sentence has no linking words (such as because, although, etc.). Hence, the phrase following the comma is in apposition to the missing word—it defines or further clarifies the missing word. Now, writing filled with circumlocutions is aptly described as prolix.


The answer is (A)

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