SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 284: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 284

5. A discerning publishing agent can ------ promising material from a mass of submissions, separating the good from the bad.

A. supplant
B. dramatize
C. finagle
D. winnow
E. overhaul

Correct Answer: D

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer D :

Choice (D) is correct. "Winnow" means to sort out. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "A discerning publishing agent can winnow promising material from a mass of submissions, separating the good from the bad." A discerning person is one who can see important differences clearly, so such a person would be appropriate for the job of sorting out good manuscripts from less promising ones. To separate the good from the bad is a good definition of "winnow."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Supplant" means to remove in order to replace with. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "A discerning publishing agent can supplant promising material from a mass of submissions, separating the good from the bad." Editors naturally preserve, not remove, promising materials; when they separate the good from the bad, they are definitely not supplanting the promising material.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Dramatize" means to show in an exaggerated fashon. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "A discerning publishing agent can dramatize promising material from a mass of submissions, separating the good from the bad." It is not the job of publishing agents to dramatize materials. They do separate the good from the bad, but not by dramatizing anything.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Finagle" means to get by trickery or craftiness. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "A discerning publishing agent can finagle promising material from a mass of submissions, separating the good from the bad." A publishing agent has no need to resort to trickery or craftiness to separate good from bad materials.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Overhaul" means to make any needed repairs. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "A discerning publishing agent can overhaul promising material from a mass of submissions, separating the good from the bad." A publishing agent processing a mass of submissions would not overhaul promising material from the rest of the submissions; the task would be to identify the promising materials, not fix or repair them.

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