SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 120: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 120

13. Vernal pools are among the most ------- of ponds: they form as a result of snowmelt and a high water table in winter, and then they ------- by late summer.

A. transitory . . expand
B. anachronistic . . overflow
C. immutable . . drain
D. itinerant . . teem
E. ephemeral . . evaporate

Correct Answer: E

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer E :

Choice (E) is correct. "Ephemeral" means brief. "Evaporate" means disappear by turning into vapor. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Vernal pools are among the most ephemeral of ponds: they form as a result of snowmelt and a high water table in winter, and then they evaporate by late summer." "Vernal pools" are spring pools. The first missing term is a characteristic of a vernal pool. What follows the colon is an explanation of the first missing term. Evaporation shows that the ponds disappear after a period of time. This corresponds with the use of ephemeral to describe a vernal pool.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Transitory" means temporary or brief. "Expand" means increase in size. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Vernal pools are among the most transitory of ponds: they form as a result of snowmelt and a high water table in winter, and then they expand by late summer." "Vernal pools" are spring pools. The first missing term is a characteristic of a vernal pool. What follows the colon is an explanation of the first missing term. A transitory pond would disappear after a brief time. However, ponds that expand are not temporary.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Anachronistic" means from the wrong time period. "Overflow" means flow over the limits of something. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Vernal pools are among the most anachronistic of ponds: they form as a result of snowmelt and a high water table in winter, and then they overflow by late summer." "Vernal pools" are spring pools. The first missing term is a characteristic of a vernal pool. What follows the colon is an explanation of the first missing term. A pond cannot be anachronistic.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Immutable" means unchangeable. "Drain" means flow away. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Vernal pools are among the most immutable of ponds: they form as a result of snowmelt and a high water table in winter, and then they drain by late summer." "Vernal pools" are spring pools. The first missing term is a characteristic of a vernal pool. What follows the colon is an explanation of the first missing term. A pond that is immutable would not fill in winter and drain in summer.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Itinerant" means roaming or wandering from place to place. "Teem" means become filled to overflowing. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Vernal pools are among the most itinerant of ponds: they form as a result of snowmelt and a high water table in winter, and then they teem by late summer." "Vernal pools" are spring pools. The first missing term is a characteristic of a vernal pool. What follows the colon is an explanation of the first missing term. Itinerant is not described by the concept of teeming. As well, a pond stays in the same place; it cannot be itinerant.

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