SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 269: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 269

5. Professor Fernandez has been ------- about most of the purportedly humanitarian aspects of the colonial government and has insisted its actions were, on the contrary, -------.

A. Dubious… self-serving
B. Enthusiastic… contemptible
C. Disparaging… sporadic
D. Excited… gratuitous
E. Disillusioned… benevolent

Correct Answer: A

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer A :

Choice (A) is correct. "Dubious" means in doubt, and "self-serving" means tending to address one's own needs or desires. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Professor Fernandez has been dubious about most of the purportedly humanitarian aspects of the colonial government and has insisted that its actions were, on the contrary, self-serving." The first missing term describes the professor's attitude toward the government's supposed humanitarianism. The phrase "on the contrary" prepares the reader to believe that the second missing term will be incompatible with "humanitarian aspects." A scholar would indeed doubt that the programs of a government were humanitarian or charitable if they turned out to serve the selfish needs of the government itself.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Enthusiastic" means having great appreciation, and "contemptible" means worthy of strong dislike. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Professor Fernandez has been enthusiastic about most of the purportedly humanitarian aspects of the colonial government and has insisted that its actions were, on the contrary, contemptible." A person who finds a government's actions despicable would not be enthusiastic about that government.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Disparaging" means belittling, and "sporadic" means occurring at irregular intervals. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Professor Fernandez has been disparaging about most of the purportedly humanitarian aspects of the colonial government and has insisted that its actions were, on the contrary, sporadic." Saying that certain actions occur at irregular intervals does not serve as reasonable grounds for the charge that a government is not genuinely interested in promoting humanitarian goals. Specifically, the phrase "on the contrary" leads the reader to expect that "humanitarian" goals would be incompatible with "sporadic" actions. Such a contrast, however, does not exist.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Excited" means emotionally aroused, and "gratuitous" in this context means unnecessary. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Professor Fernandez has been excited about most of the purportedly humanitarian aspects of the colonial government and has insisted that its actions were, on the contrary, gratuitous." Someone so excited about a government would be unlikely to claim that its humanitarian actions were unnecessary.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Disillusioned" means very disappointed, and "benevolent" means well-intentioned. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Professor Fernandez has been disillusioned about most of the purportedly humanitarian aspects of the colonial government and has insisted that its actions were, on the contrary, benevolent." One would expect the humanitarian actions of a government to be benevolent, or well-intentioned. Therefore, the expectations set up by the words "on the contrary" are not fulfilled. A person disillusioned by a government would not explain that position by pointing out that the government's humanitarian actions were well-intentioned.

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