SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 320: Answer and Explanation

Next steps

Question: 320

11. Farming has been profitable on the Great Plains for many decades, but by 1938 -------- agricultural practices and years of inadequate precipitation had ------- the land.

A. Conscientious… despoiled
B. Incompetent… sustained
C. Shrewd… debilitated
D. Innovative… fertilized
E. Imprudent… denuded

Correct Answer: E

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer E :

Choice (E) is correct. "Imprudent" means unwise, and "denuded" means stripped. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Farming had been profitable on the Great Plains for many decades, but by 1938 imprudent agricultural practices and years of inadequate precipitation had denuded the land." The word "but" indicates that the two clauses have contrasting meanings. The fact that farming on the Great Plains was profitable for many decades contrasts with the situation in 1938. By then, unwise agricultural practices and drought had stripped the land, making it unprofitable.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Conscientious" means extremely careful, and "despoiled" means plundered or robbed. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Farming had been profitable on the Great Plains for many decades, but by 1938 conscientious agricultural practices and years of inadequate precipitation had despoiled the land." It is unlikely that "conscientious," or extremely careful, agricultural practices would "despoil" the land. Conscientious practices are generally good ones, in both intent and effect.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Incompetent" means without adequate ability, and "sustained" means maintained. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Farming had been profitable on the Great Plains for many decades, but by 1938 incompetent agricultural practices and years of inadequate precipitation had sustained the land." "Incompetent" agricultural practices and years of drought would most likely ruin the land, not "sustain" it.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Shrewd" means clever, and "debilitated" means weakened. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Farming had been profitable on the Great Plains for many decades, but by 1938 shrewd agricultural practices and years of inadequate precipitation had debilitated the land." It is unclear why clever agricultural practices would be said to cause the weakening of the land.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Innovative" means using new methods, and "fertilized" means enriched. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Farming had been profitable on the Great Plains for many decades, but by 1938 innovative agricultural practices and years of inadequate precipitation had fertilized the land." The word "but" signals the reader that the positive situation of profitable farming described in the first clause will be contrasted with a negative situation in the second clause. However, the second clause focuses on a primarily positive outcome in that the soil became "fertilized," or enriched. Moreover, it is unlikely that years of inadequate rain would contribute to a fertilization of the soil.

Previous       Next