SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 240: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 240

6. Because the congresswoman has been so openhanded with many of her constituents, it is difficult to reconcile this ------ with her private ------.

A. selfishness… inattention
B. insolence… virtue
C. magnanimity… pettiness
D. opportunism… ambition
E. solicitousness… generosity

Correct Answer: C

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer C :

Choice (C) is correct. "Magnanimity" means generosity or rising above pettiness, and "pettiness" means meanness of spirit. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Because the congresswoman has been so openhanded with many of her constituents, it is difficult to reconcile this magnanimity with her private pettiness." An openhanded person is a generous one, so the first term, "magnanimity," clearly refers back to it. The second term, "pettiness," is the opposite of "magnanimity," and this is why those two personal characteristics are difficult to reconcile.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Selfishness" means neglecting others' legitimate needs in favor of one's own interests, and "inattention" means a failure to notice. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Because the congresswoman has been so openhanded with many of her constituents, it is difficult to reconcile this selfishness with her private inattention." "Openhanded" means generous, so the word "selfishness" cannot refer back to it as if it were another way of saying the same thing.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Insolence" means bold disrespect for custom or authority, and "virtue" means general moral excellence. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Because the congresswoman has been so openhanded with many of her constituents, it is difficult to reconcile this insolence with her private virtue." A person who is openhanded is considered generous—a quality having nothing to do with insolence; "insolence," therefore, cannot refer back to "openhandedness" as if the two words meant about the same thing.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Opportunism" means adapting one's actions to the current circumstances without regard for principles, and "ambition" means a strong desire for self-advancement. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Because the congresswoman has been so openhanded with many of her constituents, it is difficult to reconcile this opportunism with her private ambition." The word "openhanded" means generous and is not at all similar in meaning to "opportunism." So these two terms cannot be used together in a sentence structure set up to contrast the ideas as synonyms of each other.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Solicitousness" means showing concern for other people's needs, and "generosity" means a tendency to give freely to other people. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Because the congresswoman has been so openhanded with many of her constituents, it is difficult to reconcile this solicitousness with her private generosity." Solicitousness and generosity are both positive personal qualities that are consistent with each other. Therefore, there would be no difficulty in understanding how one person could exhibit these two qualities, so there is nothing to reconcile here.

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