SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 134: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 134

11. When x-rays were discovered around the turn of the twentieth century, doctors quickly began to ------- their newfound ability to diagnose maladies by peering beneath the surface of the human body.

A. bequeath
B. deny
C. exploit
D. finesse
E. divulge

Correct Answer: C

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer C :

Choice (C) is correct. "To exploit" means to utilize or to make productive use of something. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "When x-rays were discovered around the turn of the twentieth century, doctors quickly began to exploit their newfound ability to diagnose maladies by peering beneath the surface of the human body." Before x-rays were discovered, doctors did not have the ability to peer beneath the surface of the human body in order to diagnose maladies. Once x-rays were discovered, doctors were quick to "exploit," or make productive use of, this new ability.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "To bequeath" means to hand down. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "When x-rays were discovered around the turn of the twentieth century, doctors quickly began to bequeath their newfound ability to diagnose maladies by peering beneath the surface of the human body." In order for the term "bequeath" to make sense in this context the sentence would have to indicate to whom the ability was bequeathed, or handed down. Additionally, although doctors still use x-rays to diagnose maladies, it is awkward to suggest that this ability was handed down to them.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "To deny" means to claim to have no association with or responsibility for something. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "When x-rays were discovered around the turn of the twentieth century, doctors quickly began to deny their newfound ability to diagnose maladies by peering beneath the surface of the human body." There is no reason to believe that doctors were quick to "deny" their new ability. There is nothing inherently negative about x-rays that would cause doctors to "deny," or disclaim association with or responsibility for, the abilities that x-rays allowed.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "To finesse" means to handle something with skillful maneuvering. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "When x-rays were discovered around the turn of the twentieth century, doctors quickly began to finesse their newfound ability to diagnose maladies by peering beneath the surface of the human body." Although doctors might be eager to use a newfound technology in ever more sophisticated ways, "finesse" contains a suggestion of subtlety, and even of evasion, that does not really apply to a scientist doing medical research.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "To divulge" means to make something known, usually something private or secret. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "When x-rays were discovered around the turn of the twentieth century, doctors quickly began to divulge their newfound ability to diagnose maladies by peering beneath the surface of the human body." Although doctors may have quickly made it known that they could use x-rays to diagnose maladies, there is no reason to believe that this ability was a secret or something private. Therefore, it does not make logical sense to suggest that the doctors were quick to "divulge" their newfound ability.

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