SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 198: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 198

9. Soon after the first visitors arrived, increasing numbers of the residents of the remote island thought it possible that the outside world, instead of being -------, could be ------- and worth exploring.

A. insular... unlimited
B. friendly...wicked
C. amiable...cooperative
D. threatening...fascinating
E. forbidding...harmful

Correct Answer: D

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer D :

Choice (D) is correct. "Threatening" means dangerous, and “fascinating” means delightfully interesting. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Soon after the first visitors arrived, increasing numbers of the residents of the remote island thought it possible that the outside world, instead of being threatening, could be fascinating and worth exploring." The words "instead of" signal that the meaning of the first term will contrast strongly with that of the second term. Not only does "fascinating" contrast with "threatening," but it also fits in well with "worth exploring"; something that is fascinating is usually considered well worth exploring.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Insular" means like an island or isolated, and “unlimited” means having no restrictions. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Soon after the first visitors arrived, increasing numbers of the residents of the remote island thought it possible that the outside world, instead of being insular, could be unlimited and worth exploring." It is unlikely that residents of a remote island would consider the outside world to be like an island; they would be much more likely to imagine the world that produced the visitors as very different from their island. Moreover, given that visitors from the outside world had already arrived on the island, residents would certainly not see the outside world as isolated.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Friendly" means good-natured, and “wicked” means bad or evil. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Soon after the first visitors arrived, increasing numbers of the residents of the remote island thought it possible that the outside world, instead of being friendly, could be wicked and worth exploring." Things that are wicked are rarely thought of as worth exploring. If the visitors were viewed as wicked, the island residents would most likely want to have as little as possible to do with the places from which the visitors came.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Amiable" means acting in a kind way toward others, and “cooperative” means willing to work together. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Soon after the first visitors arrived, increasing numbers of the residents of the remote island thought it possible that the outside world, instead of being amiable, could be cooperative and worth exploring." The words "amiable" and "cooperative" both describe positive qualities and do not provide a contrast in the way that the words "instead of" lead the reader to expect.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Forbidding" means having a dangerous appearance, and “harmful” means likely to hurt. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Soon after the first visitors arrived, increasing numbers of the residents of the remote island thought it possible that the outside world, instead of being forbidding, could be harmful and worth exploring." People in general do not tend to consider harmful things worth exploring, and residents of remote islands in particular would have even less motivation to leave their islands to learn more about things likely to hurt them. Moreover, "forbidding" and "harmful" do not contrast as the words "instead of" lead the reader to expect.

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