ESL Sentence Meaning Practice Test for the ACCUPLACER® test
Choose the correct word for the blank in this sentence: Michael looked for oncoming traffic then walked ____ the street to meet his friend.
The word across is a directional preposition that best completes the sentence. It is the only direction among the choices listed that would require checking for traffic in order to complete safely.
Choose the correct word for the blank in this sentence: Miles Davis was a ____ jazz artist, recording more than 35 studio albums in his career.
The word prolific is the best answer for this question because it means present in large quantities or plentiful. The word prolific shows the kind of artist that Davis would have to be in order to record those many records. While he may also have been famous, versatile, and best-selling, none of these qualities has direct correlation to the sheer volume of his creative output.
Jeff was always good at making people laugh, but he finally found a way to get paid for it. What is Jeff’s most likely profession?
The answer choice comedian is the best response because it is work that involves making people laugh. Journalists and professors may use humor in their work, but it is not their primary goal. Philanthropy is not a comedic field.
Gary never takes advice; he always insists on doing things his own way. Which word would best describe Gary?
While intelligence, wariness, and flippancy may all be characteristics of people who don’t take advice from others, stubborn is the best answer because Gary has shown that his independent streak is a pattern of behavior.
When the storm flooded the theater, Richard thought his play would be canceled, but the director was able to find another venue at the last minute. Where will the play be performed?
While the “new venue” is not specific, the information provided clearly does not indicate an outdoor performance, a total cancellation, or a performance at the flooded theater.
Choose the correct word(s) for the blank in this sentence: My sister Hannah is known as one of the most talented and ____ actresses in her local theater community.
The word beautiful completes the sentence in the correct form. The word beautifulest is not a correct word in English. The choices beautifully, and very beautiful are improper in the context of this sentence.
Choose the correct word for the blank in this sentence: I told everyone to come to my party at 8 p.m., but most people arrived much ____, long after the party had already started.
The word later completes the sentence, indicating a time that people would have had to have arrived if they showed up after the party had already begun.
Choose the correct word for the blank in this sentence: Because of his strength, speed, and skills on the field, Dwayne ____ a perfect candidate for the NBA draft when he graduated from college.
The verb was is of the same tense as graduated that occurs later in the sentence. It completes the thought logically. The word wasn’t isn’t a good choice because Dwayne seems to be a great candidate. The words is and isn’t are in the wrong tense, and isn’t also has the same negative connotation as wasn’t.
Choose the correct word(s) for the blank in this sentence: Tanya ____ lots of new bicycle equipment, when she acquired her first sponsorship, because of her great abilities as a rider.
The phrase was given is the correct response because it corresponds with the tense of the whole sentence and continues logically from the other information given. The choices gave, was gave, and was giving are all improper.
Choose the correct word for the blank in this sentence: General Carter held strategy meetings ____ his most trusted advisors to help him decide the best plan of action.
The word with is the most logical fit for this sentence. The general would not have these meetings without his advisors or about them. Though he may have had the meetings around them, this would be an awkward fit and leave the thought incomplete.
Choose the correct word(s) for the blank in this sentence: Because she has already gained 20 pounds since we bought her a month ago, our new puppy is surely ____ very large indeed.
The phrase going to be indicates expected results at a future time. All the rest of the options either do not complete this thought or are written improperly.
Choose the correct word(s) for the blank in this sentence: After my little brother graduates from high school, my whole family ____ on vacation in Hawaii!
The phrase is going properly expresses this future action. The other choices don’t match the future tense established earlier in the sentence.
Choose the correct word(s) for the blank in this sentence: When we removed the old carpet in the second floor of our house, I was dismayed to find a hole that reached all the way ____ to the lower floor.
The word through when combined with the to that comes after the blank completes the thought. The other choices do not fit, especially when combined with to.
Choose the correct word for the blank in this sentence: I looked up and found an old bird’s nest ____ my window in the gutter on the roof.
The word above is the correct answer because gutters and roofs are above windows. The choices around and along are ambiguous. The word below is clearly incorrect because the other information implies an upward locatio
Choose the correct words for the blank in this sentence: My teacher encouraged me to ____ the answer on my own, rather than simply asking him for the solution.
The idiom look up is the correct answer for this question. The phrases look in, looking for, and looks up are all incorrect for reasons of tense and logic within the sentence.
Choose the correct words for the blank in this sentence: Jamie’s father decided that she was old enough to ____ on dates with boys her age.
The idiom go out is the correct response. The other choices are improper because they are in the wrong form.
Choose the correct word for the blank in this sentence: John’s great-grandfather was the ____ man I had ever met, and he was still healthy and active.
The term oldest is correct because it completes the thought in a logical way. Older uses the wrong ending, er. Most old has the correct meaning, but is an awkward fit and is not commonly used. The term most oldest is improper because the est ending indicates a superlative and there can only be one oldest person.
Choose the correct word(s) for the blank in this sentence: Nancy’s new pug is the ____-looking dog I have ever seen, with its beady eyes and wrinkly face.
The word funniest combines here to form funniest-looking, which completes the thought properly. All the other responses are either in the wrong form or are grammatically incorrect.
Don was taller than his four sisters but shorter than his father and older brother. Which sibling was taller than Don?
The choice Don’s older brother is the correct response. This is made clear in the first sentence. None of the other responses match the information in the prompt.
I may have had them longer than any of my other shoes, but my hiking boots are easily my favorite. How do my boots compare to other shoes I own?
This is the correct response because the sentence says that the speaker has owned them for the longest time, implying that they are the oldest.
When I was young, my mother told me that four-leafed clovers were rare, but that I could almost certainly find one if I looked hard enough. How likely was I to find a four-leafed clover?
The correct answer is fairly likely because my mother said that I could “almost certainly” find one if I tried. These words express the same information.
Michael’s friends can always rely on him for whatever they need, whether it’s a ride to the airport or just a friend to listen. Which of the following words most accurately describes Michael?
Michael is dependable because his friends can always rely on him. The word depend means nearly the same as the word rely. Michael may be any of the other options, but you couldn’t know this from the information in the sentence.
Jerry frequently makes simple mistakes that could easily be avoided, like leaving the oven on and losing his keys. Which of the following words most clearly describes Jerry?
Jerry is most likely careless, among the options given, because he makes mistakes that could be avoided with careful thought and planning.
John Lennon is best known for his singing and songwriting for the Beatles during the 1960s. What was John Lennon’s profession?
John Lennon was a musician because he wrote songs and sang for the Beatles. He may have been a producer, engineer, or publisher as well, but we wouldn’t know these things from reading the given sentence.
Ernest Hemingway is known for the crisp and precise prose in his novels, even years after his death. What was Ernest Hemingway’s profession?
We know Ernest Hemingway was a writer because the sentence tells us about his prose and his novels. There is no mention of his having performed the work involved in the other answer choices.
Though the party was enjoyable, Eve was tired and had to hit the road at midnight. What did Eve do at midnight?
The phrase drive away from the party is the correct answer because hit the road means she left and implies that she did so by car. She may have done any of the other things listed but the sentence does not tell us this.
Dr. Benway looked forward to receiving tenure after he had been teaching at the university for 20 years. What will happen to Dr. Benway’s job when he receives tenure?
Job security is a big part of what tenure is. He will not be fired, he will not retire, and he will not, necessarily, be promoted.
It was very exciting for my wife and me to celebrate our first wedding anniversary during the fall. How long had the couple in the above sentence been married when they celebrated?
This is the time that has elapsed when one celebrates a first anniversary.
Dr. Brown was a veteran in the field of orthodontics and had earned the respect of her community for all of her hard work. How long had Dr. Brown been doing her job?
The correct answer is many years. While a veteran is a person who has done something for an unspecified amount of time, we at least know that they have been at it for quite a while, not the span of time indicated by any of the other answer choices.
Every day Derek runs a mile in the morning, works out at the gym in the afternoon, and swims laps in his swimming pool after dinner. Which word best describes Derek?
This is the best answer because it is the only one that can be verified by the information gained from the sentence.
Ruth likes to care for stray dogs while finding good homes for them. She also is friendly and helpful to the children who live on her block, always playing with them and helping them with their homework. Which word best describes Ruth?
The correct response is nurturing because Ruth provides care to animals and children. She does not necessarily have any of the traits mentioned in the other answer choices, although it is not hard to imagine that she possesses them. The sentence only contains the information that suggests she is nurturing.
Thelonious Monk is still famous for the jazz compositions and improvisations that he performed decades ago. What was Thelonious Monk’s profession?
The sentence tells us that Monk composed and improvised jazz, which is a musical style. The other professions don’t fit the information given in the sentence.
Wayne Gretzky was one of the greatest athletes to ever hit a puck across the ice with a stick. What sport did Wayne Gretzky play?
The answer is hockey. You could determine this even if you didn’t know hockey because “ice skating” and icefishing have neither pucks nor sticks. Rugby has none of the characteristics mentioned.
I missed the original broadcast of my favorite TV show, but luckily I was able to watch a repeat showing at 11. What happened at 11?
This is what happens when there is a repeat showing. The other answers don’t fit the information given in the sentence.
To settle his nerves, Bobby whistled on the long, dark walk home from his friend’s house. Why was Bobby whistling?
The sentence tells us that he needed to “calm his nerves,” an idiom meaning “feel less nervous or scared.” There is a clue in the description of the “long, dark walk home”, as well. The other responses cannot be assumed based on the information given.
Because of limitations set by law, the President will not be able to remain in office after his second term. What will happen after the President’s second term?
This is not to say that he will be fired; he is just ineligable to be president anymore due to limitations of the law. He will not start a third term or remain in office by any other means.
Will settled his tab at the restaurant and went home, full and happy. What did Will have to do before he left the restaurant?
The words pay for his food and drink tell what it means to pay a tab. None of the other responses match this information, although Will may have done any of these other things before leaving. We simply aren’t told that in the sentence.
Larry was a loner in elementary school, but he grew up to have many friends in high school. Was Larry popular in elementary school?
Larry was a loner, which implies that he was not popular. The other answers don’t reflect the meaning of that word and are therefore not correct.
Olive struggled in her primary math classes, but with hard work she developed into an advanced student of calculus by the time she was old enough to enter college. Was Olive good at math at the end of high school?
The sentence tells us that she worked hard and became good at calculus just before college, the time period during which students are finishing high school. The other responses do not indicate this.
The new Governor of Maryland won the election by a landslide, to the surprise of many voters. By how many votes did the new Maryland Governor win the election?
A landslide victory refers to a candidate winning by lots and lots of votes. The other options don’t reflect the meaning of this word and are, therefore, incorrect.
At the concert, Tanya’s father said that Angus Young was a killer guitar player. What did he mean by “killer guitar player”?
The meaning of the term killer, when used in this way, is extremely good. This is a common idiom and the other options don’t indicate this meaning.
Jared’s brother told him that he would never find a good job, but Jared proved that he was just a late bloomer when he finally got a great job with a good company. What is a “late bloomer”?
The incorrect options may be true of certain late bloomers, but they do not account for the eventual success that is necessary for someone to be a late bloomer. They are, therefore, incorrect.
Tyler needed to pass his last test to graduate on time. When the grades were returned, he was delighted to find that he had passed by the skin of his teeth. What kind of grade did Tyler get?
To pass “by the skin of your teeth” means to pass by a very small margin. The other answers don’t match the meaning of this idiom and are, therefore, wrong.
Kara couldn’t eat without getting food all over her. Her friends said that she ate ____.
The word messily is the correct answer because Kara made a mess of her food when she ate it. It is an adverb describing the verb eat. The word slovenly doesn’t make sense and thoughtfully doesn’t imply messy eating. The word giddily may be true, but is not indicated by the sentence.
The Institute for Public Learning (IPL) was founded in the late 20th century. Which year might the IPL have been founded?
he answer 1985 is the only year among those listed that could be considered the “late 20th century”. The others are either mid-century or not within the 20th century at all.
George furnished his house with items he found at second-hand stores and yard sales. What word best describes George?
The term thrifty is the correct answer because George saves money by buying used things. His personality may encompass any of the other characteristics listed, but these are not described in the sentence and are, therefore, incorrect. In fact, the word extravagant is very nearly the opposite of thrifty.
Choose the correct word(s) for the blank in this sentence: Jane, the ____ of the four sisters, is Head of Emergency Nursing at the local hospital.
When you are comparing more than two things, you use the superlative with the –est ending. If there were only two sisters, Jane would be the older because comparisons between two things get the comparative form that ends in –er. [Hint: look at the number of letters in the suffix. If there are two, it’s a comparison between two things (“He is older than she.”); if there are three letters, it’s a comparison among three or more things (“He is the oldest of the five brothers.”).]
Choose the correct word(s) for the blank in this sentence: She and her friends ____ at the movies.
Because the subject is plural (she and her friends), the verb must also be plural. The only correct plural verb option that fits in this sentence is are; the state of being is already implied and does not need to be outright stated.
Choose the correct word(s) for the blank in this sentence: Nikola Tesla ____ for Thomas Edison for a short time in the 1880s, but the two men disagreed on which type of electricity was better and safer.
The only verb tense that is grammatically correct in this sentence is the past tense worked. The clues in the sentence would are the other past tense verb, disagreed, and the date of the 1880s, which has long since passed.