SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 179: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 179

7. The success of Notes of a Native Son ------- author James Baldwin as one of the most ------- essayists of his time.

A. buoyed . . irrelevant
B. established . . prominent
C. surrendered . . prolific
D. decried . . cynical
E. categorized . . mundane

Correct Answer: B

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer B :

Choice (B) is correct. "Establish" means to cause to be recognized and accepted. "Prominent" means widely and popularly known. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The success of Notes of a Native Son established author James Baldwin as one of the most prominent essayists of his time." The success of Notes of a Native Son gave Baldwin recognition and acceptance within literary circles.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Buoyed" means supported or uplifted. "Irrelevant" means unrelated or insignificant. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The success of Notes of a Native Son buoyed author James Baldwin as one of the most irrelevant essayists of his time." Success can enhance a writer's reputation, but it is illogical to claim that it would cause Baldwin to become insignificant.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Surrendered" means abandoned. "Prolific" means to produce abundant works or results. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The success of Notes of a Native Son surrendered author James Baldwin as one of the most prolific essayists of his time. Many successful authors are prolific, but it does not make sense to say that success abandoned Baldwin as a "prolific" essayist.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Decried" means denounced or belittled. "Cynical" means negative or pessimistic. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The success of Notes of a Native Son decried author James Baldwin as one of the most cynical essayists of his time." Some critics may have criticized Baldwin for being cynical, but a book cannot denounce its author.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Categorized" means classified, and "mundane" means ordinary. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The success of Notes of a Native Son categorized author James Baldwin as one of the most mundane essayists of his time." It is unlikely that success would classify or label an author as ordinary.

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