SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 321: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 321

12. Cathedrals usually take decades, even centuries, to complete; thus no one expected the National Cathedral to be built with -------.

A. dispatch
B. presumption
C. durability
D. deliberation
E. reverence

Correct Answer: A

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer A :

Choice (A) is correct. "Dispatch" means haste or speed. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Cathedrals usually take decades, even centuries, to complete; thus, no one expected the National Cathedral to be built with dispatch." Cathedrals in general take a very long time to complete, so people would not expect a particular new cathedral to be built with great speed.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Presumption" means audacity, or overstepping of proper bounds. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Cathedrals usually take decades, even centuries, to complete; thus, no one expected the National Cathedral to be built with presumption." The word "thus" after the semicolon in the sentence signals that the second clause is a conclusion made on the basis of the statement in the first clause. However, the first clause deals with the length of time it takes to build cathedrals, and overstepping proper bounds has nothing to do with this. Thus the second clause cannot be a conclusion based on the first clause.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Durability" means long-lasting. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Cathedrals usually take decades, even centuries, to complete; thus, no one expected the National Cathedral to be built with durability." The second clause of the sentence is introduced by the word "thus," and this means that the second clause is a conclusion based on the information in the first clause. However, the conclusion that no one expected a particular cathedral to be built with durability, or long-lasting qualities, is not adequately supported by the statement in the first clause; in fact, one would expect something that takes a long time to build would last a long time.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Deliberation" means careful consideration. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Cathedrals usually take decades, even centuries, to complete; thus, no one expected the National Cathedral to be built with deliberation." Saying that cathedrals take decades to complete, thus no one expected a particular cathedral to be built with careful consideration, is contradictory. Something that usually takes a long time to build would probably be carefully planned.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Reverence" means deep respect. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Cathedrals usually take decades, even centuries, to complete; thus, no one expected the National Cathedral to be built with reverence." When an activity is done with "reverence," it is usually done carefully and slowly. It therefore does not make sense to say that because cathedrals have traditionally taken many decades to complete, no one expected a particular new cathedral "to be built with reverence."

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