SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 305: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 305

11. Communal nests have advantages and disadvantages for animals like voles and mice: they enable the animals to ------ body heat, but leave them more -------- to discovery by predators.

A. Insure… inclined
B. Maintain… vulnerable
C. Squander… liable
D. Stimulate… resistant
E. Retain… immune

Correct Answer: B

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer B :

Choice (B) is correct. "Maintain" in this context means to keep up the level of, and "vulnerable" means open to attack. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Communal nests have advantages and disadvantages for animals like voles and mice: they enable the animals to maintain body heat, but leave them more vulnerable to discovery by predators." The colon indicates that the missing terms will describe both an advantage and a disadvantage of communal nests. Such an environment would certainly help animals to "maintain body heat," but it is not surprising that a group of rodents is more likely to attract predators, making them "vulnerable" to attack.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Insure" means to take necessary measures and precautions. "Inclined" can mean predisposed, or susceptible. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Communal nests have advantages and disadvantages for animals like voles and mice: they enable the animals to insure body heat, but leave them more inclined to discovery by predators." Such nests might increase the likelihood of an attack, but it makes little sense to say that body heat may be "insured."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Squander" means to waste, and "liable" in this context means likely. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Communal nests have advantages and disadvantages for animals like voles and mice: they enable the animals to squander body heat, but leave them more liable to discovery by predators." Conserving heat is an important element of survival for small animals, so it makes little sense to claim that communal nests "enable," or allow, these creatures to waste body heat. Furthermore, the sentence structure indicates that the first missing term will describe an advantage of communal nests, not a disadvantage.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Stimulate" in this context means to increase, and "resistant" means able to avoid. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Communal nests have advantages and disadvantages for animals like voles and mice: they enable the animals to stimulate body heat, but leave them more resistant to discovery by predators." The structure of the sentence indicates that the second missing term will describe a disadvantage of communal nests, but something that makes animals more "resistant" to predators is obviously advantageous.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Retain" means to keep, and "immune" means protected against. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Communal nests have advantages and disadvantages for animals like voles and mice: they enable the animals to retain body heat, but leave them more immune to discovery by predators." The second missing term should relate to a disadvantage of communal nests, but an environment that makes animals "immune to," or protected from, predators is certainly an advantage.

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