SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 182: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 182

10. Paradoxically, the senator was both a ------- and -------: she publicly defended the rights and wisdom of the people, but she often spoke with a disdainful air of superiority.

A. demagogue . . a maverick
B. conservative . . an anarchist
C. populist . . an elitist
D. moderate . . a reactionary
E. partisan . . a snob

Correct Answer: C

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer C :

Choice (C) is correct. A "populist" is an advocate for the interests and rights of the common people. An "elitist" believes that certain persons deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Paradoxically, the senator was both a populist and an elitist: she publicly defended the rights and wisdom of the people, but she often spoke with a disdainful air of superiority." The term "paradoxically" indicates that the two missing terms will be contradictory. The senator's behavior is inconsistent because she supports common people publically, while believing in the superiority of certain classes of people.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. A "demagogue" is a leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace. A "maverick" is one that resists adherence to a group. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Paradoxically, the senator was both a demagogue and a maverick: she publicly defended the rights and wisdom of the people, but she often spoke with a disdainful air of superiority." A "demagogue," a person who stirs up emotion, can also be a "maverick" or independent politician. The two are not necessarily opposed to one another, and so the behavior of a person who exhibits both of these characteristics would not logically be described as paradoxical.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Conservative" is one favoring traditional values and views. "Anarchist" is an advocate of political disorder and confusion. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Paradoxically, the senator was both a conservative and an anarchist: she publicly defended the rights and wisdom of the people, but she often spoke with a disdainful air of superiority." A "conservative" politician does not necessarily defend the rights of the common people. An "anarchist" opposes the idea of government and is unlikely to hold a government office.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Moderate" is one who holds average views or opinions. "Reactionary" means an opponent of progress or liberalism. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Paradoxically, the senator was both a moderate and a reactionary: she publicly defended the rights and wisdom of the people, but she often spoke with a disdainful air of superiority." "Moderate," or middle-ground, and "reactionary" are not the polar opposites implied by the term "paradoxically."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Partisan" is a supporter or proponent of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea. A "snob" looks down on people he or she regards as socially inferior. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Paradoxically, the senator was both a partisan and snob: she publicly defended the rights and wisdom of the people, but she often spoke with a disdainful air of superiority." While a "snob" would speak with an air of superiority, it makes little sense to contrast a "snob" with a "partisan," or someone favoring a particular political party. Furthermore, a partisan would not necessarily defend the rights of the common people.

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