SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 309: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 309

15. The reviewer characterized Modanna Swan-Abdalla's autobiography as a portrait of a ------- person, one who prevailed against great odds.

A. empathetic
B. indomitable
C. expeditious
D. idiosyncratic
E. astute

Correct Answer: B

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer B :

Choice (B) is correct. "Indomitable" means not easily defeated. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "The reviewer characterized Madonna Swan-Abdalla's autobiography as a portrait of an indomitable person, one who prevailed against great odds." An "indomitable person" is one who "prevails," or succeeds, against great odds. Because of the structure of the sentence, the reader expects such a definition or explanation to follow the comma.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Empathetic" means identifying emotionally with other people. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "The reviewer characterized Madonna Swan-Abdalla's autobiography as a portrait of an empathetic person, one who prevailed against great odds." Because "one" clearly refers back to "empathetic person," the structure of the sentence implies that the phrase following the comma will provide an appropriate definition or explanation of "an empathetic person," and the phrase beginning with "one" does not do this.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Expeditious" means efficient and speedy. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "The reviewer characterized Madonna Swan-Abdalla's autobiography as a portrait of an expeditious person, one who prevailed against great odds." An "expeditious person" might get things done well and fast under normal circumstances but might not necessarily be up to the task of "prevailing," or winning, against great odds. The position of the phrase after the comma in the sentence leads experienced readers to expect that the phrase will provide a helpful definition or explanation of "an expeditious person," which does not happen here.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Idiosyncratic" means unique or strange. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "The reviewer characterized Madonna Swan-Abdalla's autobiography as a portrait of an idiosyncratic person, one who prevailed against great odds." An "idiosyncratic person" cannot be defined as one who prevails against great odds. The structure of the sentence leads the reader to expect that the phrase following the comma will either define or help explain what is meant by "an idiosyncratic person," which does not happen here.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Astute" means shrewd or clever. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "The reviewer characterized Madonna Swan-Abdalla's autobiography as a portrait of an astute person, one who prevailed against great odds." A shrewd or clever person might not necessarily be capable of prevailing against great odds. This does not meet the expectation set up by the structure of the sentence that the phrase "an astute person" will be defined or explained by the phrase that follows the comma.

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