Try this sentence...
Commentators on presidential campaigns often claim that relevant debates on issues are damaged by a _____ of condemnations and accusations that precludes ___________ conversations.
A) collection…expendable B) dearth…meaningful
C) blast…defamatory D) reiterative…repetitive
Try to pick an answer before you read on.
Most students do not know what “precludes” means. Most students assume that “precludes” means something like “to include beforehand”. These students are basing that assumption on “Prefix-Suffix-Roots”, a dangerous thing to do on The SAT. Most students do not realize that “precludes” controls the slot. It is the key to the sentence.
Even though the “global” result of the sentence is negative, does that mean that the second slot is negative? If a student has made the wrong assumption about “precludes”, that student will likely pick © as the answer, especially in the face of “babel”.(A scene of noisy confusion.)
Precludes—to prevent or to make something impossible.
Therefore, the babel of condemnations makes an reasonable conversation impossible. Correct Answer: E
Notice that “precludes” controls the slot and, in effect, switches what seems to be a negative to a positive…”REASONABLE”.
Beware of unknown words, especially adjectives or verbs, that control the slot. These words can SWITCH the expected meaning of the slot from Negative to Positive, or vice versa.
Don't assume. Don't get Snookered.