SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 294: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 294

15. Sleep actually occurs --------, though one may receive clues signaling its ------- for several minutes before one falls asleep.

A. Gradually… abruptness
B. Erratically… solace
C. Temporarily… length
D. Inevitably… approach
E. Instantaneously… onset

Correct Answer: E

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer E :

Choice (E) is correct. "Instantaneously" means instantly, and "onset" means beginning. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Sleep actually occurs instantaneously, though one may receive clues signaling its onset for several minutes before one falls asleep." The words "actually" and "though" indicate a contrast between two opposing ideas. The sentence suggests that people may think sleep occurs gradually because signs of its "onset" last for several minutes, but this inaccurate notion is countered by asserting that sleep "actually" happens at once.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Gradually" means proceeding slowly, and "abruptness" means suddenness. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Sleep actually occurs gradually, though one may receive clues signaling its abruptness for several minutes before one falls asleep." By definition, an "abrupt" action usually happens at once, not over the course of "several minutes." The claim that an "abrupt" action could occur "gradually" is therefore illogical.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Erratically" means unpredictably, and "solace" means alleviation of anxiety. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Sleep actually occurs erratically, though one may receive clues signaling its solace for several minutes before one falls asleep." The idea that sleep can be unpredictable is not a direct contradiction to the fact that one receives clues about sleep for several minutes before one actually falls asleep.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Temporarily" means during a limited time, and "length" means duration. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Sleep actually occurs temporarily, though one may receive clues signaling its length for several minutes before one falls asleep." There is no support for the claim that the body sends signals regarding how long it will be asleep.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Inevitably" means expectedly. Something that "approaches" draws closer. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Sleep actually occurs inevitably, though one may receive clues signaling its approach for several minutes before one falls asleep." Sleep is certainly an unavoidable part of life, but this fact does not provide a direct contrast to the idea that the body sends signals that sleep is approaching for several minutes.

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