SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 224: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 224

5. As ------- as disintegration of the Roman Empire must have seemed, that disaster nevertheless presented some ------- aspects.

A. momentous… formidable
B. decisive… unavoidable
C. unexpected… ambiguous
D. advantageous… beneficial
E. catastrophic… constructive

Correct Answer: E

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer E :

Choice (E) is correct. "Catastrophic" means disastrous, and "constructive" means helpful. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "As catastrophic as the disintegration of the Roman Empire must have seemed, that disaster nevertheless presented some constructive aspects." The word "nevertheless" signals an important contrast between the first and second parts of the sentence, so the two missing terms must differ in meaning. This allows for Rome's collapse to be described as both "catastrophic" and "constructive."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Momentous" means of utmost significance. "Formidable" in this context means awe-inspiring. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "As momentous as the disintegration of the Roman Empire must have seemed, that disaster nevertheless presented some formidable aspects." While it is logical to say that the fall of Rome was "momentous," the term "formidable" does not provide the contrast that the sentence's structure requires.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Decisive" in this context means crucial, and "unavoidable" means inevitable. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "As decisive as the disintegration of the Roman Empire must have seemed, that disaster nevertheless presented some unavoidable aspects." The deterioration of the Roman Empire was certainly decisive, but "nevertheless" indicates a contrast in meaning that "unavoidable" does not express.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Unexpected" means without warning. "Ambiguous" means uncertain. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "As unexpected as the disintegration of the Roman Empire must have seemed, that disaster nevertheless presented some ambiguous aspects." "Unexpected disintegration" does not directly contrast with "ambiguous aspects" in the way that the sentence requires.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Advantageous" and "beneficial" are synonyms. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "As advantageous as the disintegration of the Roman Empire must have seemed, that disaster nevertheless presented some beneficial aspects." The word "nevertheless" indicates that the words in the blanks should be nearly opposite in meaning.

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