SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 177: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 177

5. Scientists require observable data, not -------, to support a hypothesis; sound science is grounded in ------- results rather than speculation.

A. induction . . diminutive
B. experimentation . . pragmatic
C. intuition . . fiscal
D. bombast . . theoretical
E. conjecture . . empirical

Correct Answer: E

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer E :

Choice (E) is correct. "Conjecture" means guesswork or predicting from incomplete or uncertain evidence. "Empirical" means by experiment or according to experience. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Scientists require observable data, not conjecture, to support a hypothesis; sound science is grounded in empirical results rather than speculation." It makes sense to contrast "observable data" with "conjecture" and "empirical" with "speculation." Scientific criteria usually require hypotheses to be grounded in "empirical results" and "observable data," not "conjecture" and "speculation."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Induction" means the process of deriving general principles from particular facts or instances. "Diminutive" means tiny. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Scientists require observable data, not induction, to support a hypothesis; sound science is grounded in diminutive results rather than speculation." It makes no sense to say that sound science is grounded in "diminutive," or tiny, results. Nor does it make sense to contrast tiny results with "speculation."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Experimentation" means the act of testing under controlled conditions. "Pragmatic" means practical. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Scientists require observable data, not experimentation, to support a hypothesis; sound science is grounded in pragmatic results rather than speculation." "Experimentation" can provide "observable data"; the two are not opposites.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Intuition" means immediate cognition. "Fiscal" means relating to finances. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Scientists require observable data, not intuition, to support a hypothesis; sound science is grounded in fiscal results rather than speculation." While "intuition" is clearly distinguished from "observable data," science is supposed to rely on the physical results of experimentation regardless of the "fiscal," or financial, results the experimentation may involve.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Bombast" means pompous speech or writing. "Theoretical" means based on theory. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Scientists require observable data, not bombast, to support a hypothesis; sound science is grounded in theoretical results rather than speculation." "Theoretical results" can be described as speculative; however, theoretical results and speculation are not mutually exclusive.

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