SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 34: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 34

4. Ayn Rand can be considered a ------- novelist; her ------- ideas have provoked irate rebuttal from her philosophical opponents.

A. polemical . . controversial
B. charismatic . . fulsome
C. visionary . . traditional
D. soporific . . hackneyed
E. savvy . . ingenuous

Correct Answer: A

Explanation:

Skill: Understanding the content, form, and function of sentences

Explanation for Correct Answer A :

Choice (A) is correct. "Polemical" means controversial. Something that is "controversial" stimulates a clash of opposing views. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Ayn Rand can be considered a polemical novelist; her controversial ideas have provoked irate rebuttal from her philosophical opponents." The semicolon introduces an explanation of the first missing term. Someone who routinely draws "irate rebuttal," or angry responses, is likely "polemical," or controversial. It stands to reason that such a novelist would have controversial ideas as well.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Charismatic" means possessing a special quality that inspires allegiance and devotion. "Fulsome" can mean abundant or offensive. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Ayn Rand can be considered a charismatic novelist; her fulsome ideas have provoked irate rebuttal from her philosophical opponents." Certain "fulsome" ideas might provoke an angry response, but a novelist who offends her opponents is not necessarily "charismatic."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Visionary" means marked by foresight and imagination. "Traditional" means adhering to custom and convention. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Ayn Rand can be considered a visionary novelist; her traditional ideas have provoked irate rebuttal from her philosophical opponents." The second missing term elaborates on the first, so they must have compatible meanings. "Visionary" and "traditional" are somewhat contradictory, however, because a "visionary" typically values imagination and foresight over "tradition."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Soporific" means causing drowsiness. "Hackneyed" refers to things that have been made trite or commonplace by overuse. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Ayn Rand can be considered a soporific novelist; her hackneyed ideas have provoked irate rebuttal from her philosophical opponents." A writer who is both "soporific" and "hackneyed" is more likely to bore readers than to anger them.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Savvy" means shrewd or wise. "Ingenuous" means frank, open, and straightforward. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Ayn Rand can be considered a savvy novelist; her ingenuous ideas have provoked irate rebuttal from her philosophical opponents." Straightforward ideas from a "savvy" writer will not necessarily provoke angry debate.

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