SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 38: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 38

8. Through the years, financial misfortunes and personal tragedies turned his early cynicism into hardened -------.

A. sentimentality
B. bitterness
C. blitheness
D. ambivalence
E. optimism

Correct Answer: B

Explanation:

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

Explanation for Correct Answer B :

Choice (B) is correct. "Bitterness" refers to an extremely resentful and cynical attitude. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Through the years, financial misfortunes and personal tragedies turned his early cynicism into hardened bitterness." The word "hardened" indicates that the missing term must describe an attitude that is similar to "cynicism." "Bitterness" is nearly synonymous with "cynicism."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Sentimentality" refers to an emotional or overly romantic attitude. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Through the years, financial misfortunes and personal tragedies turned his early cynicism into hardened sentimentality." The sentence explains that he became increasingly "hardened," but the term "sentimentality" implies emotional softness.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Blitheness" refers to a lighthearted attitude. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Through the years, financial misfortunes and personal tragedies turned his early cynicism into hardened blitheness." It is illogical to claim that his "cynicism" turned into "hardened blitheness," because the two attitudes are vastly different.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Ambivalence" refers to mixed feelings or indecisiveness. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Through the years, financial misfortunes and personal tragedies turned his early cynicism into hardened ambivalence." The term "hardened" suggests that his "cynicism" became more extreme through the years, but an "ambivalent," or indecisive, attitude is by definition so unfixed that it cannot be described as "hardened."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Optimism" means hopefulness. If one were to insert this term into the text, the sentence would read "Through the years, financial misfortunes and personal tragedies turned his early cynicism into hardened optimism." It is illogical to claim that his "cynicism" developed into "hardened optimism," because optimism suggests a positive, not a negative, outlook.

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