SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 214: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 214

10. The speaker, praised for her style yet ridiculed for her vacuity, often moved naive listeners with ----- alone and led them to believe that her speech had ------.

A. reason… dalliance
B. infelicity… conviction
C. rhetoric… substance
D. pragmatism… futility
E. boorishness… integrity

Correct Answer: C

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer C :

Choice (C) is correct. "Rhetoric" means the art of using language effectively and persuasively. "Substance" means important content. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The speaker, praised for her style yet ridiculed for her vacuity, often moved naive listeners with rhetoric alone and led them to believe that her speech had substance." The first part of the sentence implies that the speaker is convincing, yet shallow. The terms "rhetoric" and "substance" reinforce this description in the second part of the sentence, which asserts that unsophisticated listeners mistake the speaker's eloquence for content.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Reason" means logical sense, and "dalliance" in this context means playful flirtation. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The speaker, praised for her style yet ridiculed for her vacuity, often moved naive listeners with reason alone and led them to believe that her speech had dalliance." To say that she "moved" naive audience members implies a connection based on emotion, not "reason." Furthermore, it is illogical to say that her speech had flirtatious "dalliance."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Infelicity" means inappropriateness of expression, and "conviction" means certainty. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The speaker, praised for her style yet ridiculed for her vacuity, often moved naive listeners with infelicity alone and led them to believe that her speech had conviction." It is highly unlikely that inappropriateness would "move" an audience or that it would give a speech an air of "conviction."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Pragmatism" means a practical approach to problems, and "futility" means uselessness. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The speaker, praised for her style yet ridiculed for her vacuity, often moved naive listeners with pragmatism alone and led them to believe that her speech had futility." Although pragmatism might influence listeners, it would not likely "move" them. Also, it is illogical to claim that the speaker's pragmatic presentation would convince people "that her speech had futility."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Boorishness" means rudeness. "Integrity" means adherence to a strict moral code. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The speaker, praised for her style yet ridiculed for her vacuity, often moved naive listeners with boorishness alone and led them to believe that her speech had integrity." "Boorishness," or rude insensitivity, would hardly lead audience members to believe that a speech had integrity.

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