SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 209: Answer and Explanation

Next steps

Question: 209

5. To avoid being -------, composer Stephen Sondheim strives for an element of surprise in his songs.

A. erratic
B. informal
C. elaborate
D. predictable
E. idiosyncratic

Correct Answer: D

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer D :

Choice (D) is correct. "Predictable" means forseeable or hackneyed. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "To avoid being predictable, composer Stephen Sondheim strives for an element of surprise in his songs." The word "avoid" indicates that the missing term will contrast with the element of surprise that Sondheim tries to instill in his songs. "Surprise" means something unexpected, so it makes sense to say that the composer includes surprising elements in his songs to ensure that his work sounds fresh and original.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Erratic" means inconsistent. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "To avoid being erratic, composer Stephen Sondheim strives for an element of surprise in his songs." It can be argued that inconsistencies within in a song are "surprising." This term therefore defies the underlying logic of the sentence that the meaning of the missing word must contrast with the meaning of "surprise."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Informal" means casual. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "To avoid being informal, composer Stephen Sondheim strives for an element of surprise in his songs." There is, however, no direct correlation between a composer's informality and his or her originality.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Elaborate" in this context means complex. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "To avoid being elaborate, composer Stephen Sondheim strives for an element of surprise in his songs." But songs that lack complexity are not necessarily surprising.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Idiosyncratic" in this context means peculiar. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "To avoid being idiosyncratic, composer Stephen Sondheim strives for an element of surprise in his songs." It is illogical to claim that a composer who values originality would want to avoid being unusual. Idiosyncrasies, or departures from the norm, are often what make music surprising.

Previous       Next