SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 223: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 223

4. As a young physics instructor, Richard Feynman had discovered that he had the gift of sharing his ------ his subject and making the excitement -------.

A. passion for… contagious
B. knowledge for… inaudible
C. contempt for… praiseworthy
D. propensity for… futile
E. commitment to… impersonal

Correct Answer: A

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer A :

Choice (A) is correct. "Passion" in this context means boundless enthusiasm, and "contagious" means infectious. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "As a young physics instructor, Richard Feynman discovered that he had the gift of sharing his passion for his subject and making that excitement contagious." The word "and" indicates that the parallel verb phrases introduced by "sharing" and "making" are similar in meaning. "Passion" and "contagious" complete the sentence well, because it is easy to imagine Feynman's intense enthusiasm for physics rubbing off on his students and colleagues.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Knowledge" in this context means understandling gained through study. "Inaudible" means impossible to hear. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "As a young physics instructor, Richard Feynman discovered that he had the gift of sharing his knowledge of his subject and making that excitement inaudible." It is likely that Feynman wished to share his knowledge with others, but illogical that he would have a gift for making his enthusiasm inaudible.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Contempt" means scorn, and "praiseworthy" means highly commendable. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "As a young physics instructor, Richard Feynman discovered that he had the gift of sharing his contempt for his subject and making that excitement praiseworthy." Feynman certainly did not express any sign of contempt for his subject, and there's no indication that he intended for his excitement to elicit praise from others.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Propensity" means an innate inclination, and "futile" means useless. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "As a young physics instructor, Richard Feynman discovered that he had the gift of sharing his propensity for his subject and making that excitement futile." Although it is plausible that Feynman had a gift of sharing his propensity for physics, he certainly didn't want to make his excitement futile, or frivolous.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Commitment" in this context means an emotional or intellectual bond, and "impersonal" means showing no emotion or personality. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "As a young physics instructor, Richard Feynman discovered that he had the gift of sharing his commitment for his subject and making that excitement impersonal." It is very possible that Feynman had a gift of sharing his commitment to physics with others, but it is unrealistic to assert that Feynman had an impersonal connection to a subject that elicits such excitement from him.

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