SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 319: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 319

10. K'ang-hsi, emperor of China from 1661 to 1722, expressed his private thoughts with a ------ rarely found in the usually ------- rulers of great empire.

A. Peacefulness… placid
B. Forthrightness… reserved
C. Fairness… dilatory
D. Meticulousness… accessible
E. Peevishness… irritable

Correct Answer: B

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer B :

Choice (B) is correct. "Forthrightness" means frankness, and "reserved" means restrained. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "K'ang-hsi, emperor of China from 1661 to 1722, expressed his private thoughts with a forthrightness rarely found in the usually reserved rulers of great empires." The sentence is structured to contrast a rare quality, the emperor's expression, with a common quality usually found in the rulers of great empires. So K'ang-hsi's "forthrightness," or frankness, is contrasted with the usual "reserve," or restraint, of other rulers.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Peacefulness" means calmness, and "placid" means calm or untroubled. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "K'ang-hsi, emperor of China from 1661 to 1722, expressed his private thoughts with a peacefulness rarely found in the usually placid rulers of great empires." Since "placid" is another way of saying "peaceful," or calm, there is no contrast between the two ideas. However, the sentence is structured to show how the emperor's expression was distinct from the way rulers of great empires usually acted.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Fairness" means justice or honesty, and "dilatory" means slow. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "K'ang-hsi, emperor of China from 1661 to 1722, expressed his private thoughts with a fairness rarely found in the usually dilatory rulers of great empires." There is no contrast between the meanings of "fair" and "dilatory"; these two words refer to qualities that can occur together in the same personality without contradiction. The sentence would make more sense if the two terms to be inserted were opposites of each other, such as "fairness" and "unfair" or "swiftness" and "dilatory."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Meticulousness" means carefulness, and "accessible" means available. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "K'ang-hsi, emperor of China from 1661 to 1722, expressed his private thoughts with a meticulousness rarely found in the usually accessible rulers of great empires." There is no contrast between "meticulousness," or carefulness, and "accessibility." People who are careful about details in their lives can make themselves available or unavailable to others. However, the sentence is structured so that the two terms inserted into it should be opposites of each other.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Peevishness" means irritability, and "irritable" means easily annoyed. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "K'ang-hsi, emperor of China from 1661 to 1722, expressed his private thoughts with a peevishness rarely found in the usually irritable rulers of great empires." Since "peevishness" is another way of saying "irritability," the contrast set up by the sentence between the two ideas does not exist, and the sentence is illogical.

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