SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 228: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 228

9. For a long time, most doctors maintained that taking massive vitamins was relatively harmless; now, however, some are warning that excessive dosages can be -------.

A. healthy
B. expensive
C. wasteful
D. toxic
E. inane

Correct Answer: D

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer D :

Choice (D) is correct. "Toxic" means poisonous or harmful to health. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "For a long time, most doctors maintained that taking massive doses of vitamins was relatively harmless; now, however, some are warning that excessive dosages can be toxic." The word "however" shows that the situation described in the first part of the sentence will contrast with that described in the second part of the sentence. This expectation is borne out in the sentence because a belief that taking large doses of vitamins is harmless was replaced with a belief that such doses are quite harmful.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Healthy" in this context means good for the body. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "For a long time, most doctors maintained that taking massive doses of vitamins was relatively harmless; now, however, some are warning that excessive dosages can be healthy." Since health is a condition that everyone desires or wants to maintain, no one would think of warning people that a certain substance can be healthy. In addition, with the insertion of "healthy" into the sentence, the meaning of the first part of the sentence does not contrast with that of the second part. Therefore, the expectation set up by the word "however" is not satisfied.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Expensive" means costing a lot. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "For a long time, most doctors maintained that taking massive doses of vitamins was relatively harmless; now, however, some are warning that excessive dosages can be expensive." It would not take doctors to warn people that large doses of vitamins can be expensive; anyone who buys vitamins could make that judgment well enough. In addition, the contrast set up by the word "however" is not satisfied by mentioning the health consequences of vitamins in one part of the sentence and their cost in the other part, as the contrast should be in the same area: healthful/unhealthful or expensive/cheap.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Wasteful" means using more than is necessary. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "For a long time, most doctors maintained that taking massive doses of vitamins was relatively harmless; now, however, some are warning that excessive dosages can be wasteful." The doctors' comment in the first part of the sentence is not that massive doses of vitamins are an efficient use of resources, only that those doses would not cause problems. So saying in the second part of the sentence that doctors now warn that such massive dosages can be wasteful does not provide the type of sharp contrast that the reader expects from two clauses that are joined by the word "however."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Inane" means silly. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "For a long time, most doctors maintained that taking massive doses of vitamins was relatively harmless; now, however, some are warning that excessive dosages can be inane." The doctors do not say in the first part of the sentence that taking massive doses of vitamins is a smart thing to do; they just say that such massive doses are relatively harmless. Therefore, saying in the second part of the sentence that doctors now warn that such massive dosages can be inane does not provide the clear contrast that the reader expects from two clauses that are joined by the word "however."

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