SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 208: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 208

4. Oil companies seeking permission to drill in Alaskan wildlife refuge areas argued that, for animals, the effects of previous drilling in comparable areas have been ----- .

A. irrepressible
B. counterproductive
C. negligible
D. momentous
E. magnanimous

Correct Answer: C

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer C :

Choice (C) is correct. "Negligible" means insignificant or minimal. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Oil companies seeking permission to drill in Alaskan wildlife refuge areas argued that, for animals, the effects of previous drilling in comparable areas have been negligible." This sentence makes sense because it is in the self-interest of oil companies to argue that drilling has an insignificant effect on wildlife.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Irrepressible" means impossible to control. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Oil companies seeking permission to drill in Alaskan wildlife refuge areas argued that, for animals, the effects of previous drilling in comparable areas have been irrepressible." It is in the self-interest of oil companies to show that the past effects of drilling on wildlife are insignificant, and are thus no barrier to further drilling. If the oil companies showed that the effects of previous drilling were impossible to control, they would be arguing against their own position.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Counterproductive" means producing a result that is the opposite of the desired one. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Oil companies seeking permission to drill in Alaskan wildlife refuge areas argued that, for animals, the effects of previous drilling in comparable areas have been counterproductive." If the oil companies were to show that the effects of previous drilling on animals were the opposite of the desired result (which was, presumably, to keep them safe), then the oil companies would be offering a very unconvincing argument.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Momentous" means having great importance. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Oil companies seeking permission to drill in Alaskan wildlife refuge areas argued that, for animals, the effects of previous drilling in comparable areas have been momentous." Arguing that the effects of the drilling on animals were very important provides some information, but not the type of detail needed for the sentence to make sense. Although momentous effects could be important in positive ways, the sentence does not make it clear such effects were not in fact important for negative reasons. Oil companies would be more likely to argue that their drilling had little effect on animals.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Magnanimous" means extremely generous. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Oil companies seeking permission to drill in Alaskan wildlife refuge areas argued that, for animals, the effects of previous drilling in comparable areas have been magnanimous." People who do wonderful things for others are often said to be "magnanimous." The effects of drilling, however, cannot properly be described in this way.

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