SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 54: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 54

9. The company rewarded Smith for his ------- ability to think for himself; many of his rivals in the industry, in contrast, merely absorb and ------- the cliches of contemporary business.

A. instinctive . . forget
B. unrecognized . . obey
C. touchy . . ignore
D. mindless . . enjoy
E. uncommon . . repeat

Correct Answer: E

Explanation:

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

Explanation for Correct Answer E : Choice E is correct. "Uncommon" means remarkable or unusual; "repeat" means to say again. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The company rewarded Smith for his uncommon ability to think for himself; many of his rivals in the industry, in contrast, merely absorb and repeat the clich's of contemporary business." The phrase "in contrast" indicates that Smith's independent thinking set him apart from his rivals. It makes sense that Smith's "uncommon," or remarkable, ability would be contrasted with his peers' tendency to repeat clich's.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Instinctive" means natural or innate; "forget" means to not remember. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The company rewarded Smith for his instinctive ability to think for himself; many of his rivals in the industry, in contrast, merely absorb and forget the clich's of contemporary business." The missing terms must show that Smith thinks for himself while his rivals use trite expressions. The claim that Smith's rivals "forget," rather than repeat, the clich's of contemporary business does not directly contrast Smith's behavior.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Unrecognized" means to not acknowledge; "obey" means to follow commands. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The company rewarded Smith for his unrecognized ability to think for himself; many of his rivals in the industry, in contrast, merely absorb and obey the clich's of contemporary business." The company would not reward Smith for an ability that went unnoticed.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Touchy" means easily offended; "ignore" means to not take notice of. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The company rewarded Smith for his touchy ability to think for himself; many of his rivals in the industry, in contrast, merely absorb and ignore the clich's of contemporary business." The company would not reward Smith for being easily offended, nor would his rivals be able to both use and "ignore" clich's.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Mindless" means unintelligent; "enjoy" means to appreciate. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "The company rewarded Smith for his mindless ability to think for himself; many of his rivals in the industry, in contrast, merely absorb and enjoy the cliches of contemporary business." It is illogical to claim that Smith has a "mindless" ability to think for himself.

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