SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 2: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 2

2. Just when the senator's opponent had ------- the lead in popularity polls, public opinion -------; as a result, the incumbent senator regained her front-runner position.

A. taken . . stabilized
B. challenged . . waned
C. captured . . shifted
D. conceded . . vacillated
E. relinquished . . changed

Correct Answer: C

Explanation:

Skill: Understanding the content, form, and function of sentences

Explanation for Correct Answer C :

Choice (C) is correct. "Capture" in this context means to gain through effort. "Shift" means to change direction. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Just when the senator's opponent had captured the lead in popularity polls, public opinion shifted; as a result, the incumbent senator regained her front-runner position." The second half of the sentence holds the clues for determining which words best complete the first half of the sentence. The term "regained" implies that the incumbent senator's opponent had "captured" the lead in the polls at one point, but that the incumbent moved ahead again when public opinion "shifted."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Take" means to seize. "Stabilize" means to hold steady. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Just when the senator's opponent had taken the lead in popularity polls, public opinion stabilized; as a result, the incumbent senator regained her front-runner position." If public opinion "stabilized" at the same time that the senator's opponent seized the lead, then the senator would still be trailing, not "regaining her front-runner" status.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Challenge" means to confront. "Wane" means to diminish or decline. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Just when the senator's opponent had challenged the lead in popularity polls, public opinion waned; as a result, the incumbent senator regained her front-runner position." The dip in public interest implied by the term "waned" would not necessarily help the incumbent senator regain her earlier popularity.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Concede" means to give up. "Vacillate" means to change directions continually. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Just when the senator's opponent had conceded the lead in popularity polls, public opinion vacillated; as a result, the incumbent senator regained her front-runner position." If public opinion "vacillated," or constantly changed direction, then neither candidate could accurately claim the lead.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Relinquish" means to give up. "Change" means to make different. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Just when the senator's opponent had relinquished the lead in popularity polls, public opinion changed; as a result, the incumbent senator regained her front-runner position." If public opinion "changed" just as the opponent gave up the lead, the result would be that the opponent, not the senator, would regain the front-runner position.

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