SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 20: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 20

5. Despite years of poverty and -------, the poet Ruth Pitter produced work that is now ------- by a range of literary critics.

A. security . . hailed
B. depression . . criticized
C. celebrity . . publicized
D. inactivity . . undermined
E. adversity . . acclaimed

Correct Answer: E

Explanation:

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

Explanation for Correct Answer E :

Choice (E) is correct. "Adversity" means misfortune. "Acclaimed" means applauded or strongly approved of. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Despite years of poverty and adversity, the poet Ruth Pitter produced work that is now acclaimed by a range of literary critics." The logic of the sentence implies that the first missing term will be related to "poverty," and "adversity" clearly fits. Additionally, the phrase "despite years of" and the word "now" combine to indicate that Pitter overcame these circumstances, and winning the approval of critics demonstrates her success.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Security" means safety, confidence, or protection. "Hailed" means applauded. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Despite years of poverty and security, the poet Ruth Pitter produced work that is now hailed by a range of literary critics." "Security" is inappropriate in this context, because the logic of the sentence indicates that the first missing term must relate to a difficult condition.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Depression" refers to a state of sadness or low spirits. "Criticized" means judged severely. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Despite years of poverty and depression, the poet Ruth Pitter produced work that is now criticized by a range of literary critics." Given the phrase "Despite years of poverty," the second missing term should indicate something positive. "Criticism," however, has negative connotations.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Celebrity" refers to the state of being famous. "Publicized" means advertised or made known. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Despite years of poverty and celebrity, the poet Ruth Pitter produced work that is now publicized by a range of literary critics." The terms "despite" and "now" indicate a contrast between the two missing terms, but there is no contrast in the work of someone with "celebrity" status being "publicized."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Inactivity" means idleness. "Undermined" means weakened. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Despite years of poverty and inactivity, the poet Ruth Pitter produced work that is now undermined by a range of literary critics." The assertion that critics now "undermine" Pitter's poetry does not provide the expected contrast with the idea that she was once poverty-stricken and "inactive."

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