SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 27: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 27

12. Using detailed observations made by ancient astronomers in China, Korea, and Japan to ------- data collected by modern instruments, scientists can ------- precisely when a particular star exploded.

A. contradict . . speculate
B. replace . . disregard
C. simulate . . investigate
D. disseminate . . measure
E. complement . . establish

Correct Answer: E

Explanation:

Skill: Understanding the content, form, and function of sentences

Explanation for Correct Answer E :

Choice (E) is correct. "Complement" means to complete or supplement. "Establish" means to determine or prove the truth of something. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Using detailed observations made by ancient astronomers in China, Korea, and Japan to complement data collected by modern instruments, scientists can establish precisely when a particular star exploded." The sentence indicates that astronomers incorporate both "ancient" and "modern" observations in their research. It makes sense that the observations of ancient astronomers would "complement," or supplement, modern data, providing a more complete method of "establishing," or determining, when a particular star exploded.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Contradict" means to dispute or deny. "Speculate" means to theorize without conclusive evidence. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Using detailed observations made by ancient astronomers in China, Korea, and Japan to contradict data collected by modern instruments, scientists can speculate precisely when a particular star exploded." It is unlikely that scientists would use ancient observations to disprove data from modern instruments, and "speculation" can not be characterized as "precise," or exact.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Replace" in this context means to put something new in place of something else. "Disregard" means to pay no attention to. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Using detailed observations made by ancient astronomers in China, Korea, and Japan to replace data collected by modern instruments, scientists can disregard precisely when a particular star exploded." It is unlikely that modern scientists would substitute their data with ancient observations. In addition, it is illogical to claim that astronomers would "disregard," or ignore, the explosion of a star in a "precise" fashion.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. To "simulate" something means to imitate it. "Investigate" means to study by close examination. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Using detailed observations made by ancient astronomers in China, Korea, and Japan to simulate data collected by modern instruments, scientists can investigate precisely when a particular star exploded." It makes little sense to say that scientists would use ancient observations to "simulate," or imitate modern data.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Disseminate" means to scatter widely or spread about. "Measure" means to determine the size or amount of. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Using detailed observations made by ancient astronomers in China, Korea, and Japan to disseminate data collected by modern instruments, scientists can measure precisely when a particular star exploded." It makes sense that astronomers would want to take precise measurements, but it is illogical to claim that they would use ancient observations to "disseminate," or scatter modern data.

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