SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 81: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 81

6. An effective member of a debating team must focus clearly on the ------- issue and avoid ------- arguments.

A. equivocal . . obstreperous
B. designated . . pertinent
C. comprehensive . . general
D. principal . . peripheral
E. subtle . . significant

Correct Answer: D

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer D :

Choice (D) is correct. "Principal" means first in importance; in this context, "peripheral," means of minor importance. If these terms were inserted into the text, the sentence would read "An effective member of a debating team must focus clearly on the principal issue and avoid peripheral arguments." Since the structure of the sentence indicates that the missing terms should be opposites, it makes sense to say that debaters should focus on important issues and avoid less important issues.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Equivocal" means uncertain; "obstreperous" means unruly. If these terms were inserted into the text, the sentence would read "An effective member of a debating team must focus clearly on the equivocal issue and avoid obstreperous arguments." Since the structure of the sentence indicates that the missing terms should be opposites, it does not make sense to say that debaters should focus on uncertain issues while avoiding unruly or noisy arguments.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Designated" means chosen; "pertinent" means relevant. If these terms were inserted into the text, the sentence would read "An effective member of a debating team must focus clearly on the designated issue and avoid pertinent arguments." Since the structure of the sentence indicates that the missing terms should be opposites, it may make sense here to say that good debates would focus on the "designated," or specified, issue, but it does not make sense to say that good debates would avoid relevant arguments.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Comprehensive" means inclusive; in this context, "general," means applicable to the whole. If these terms were inserted into the text, the sentence would read "An effective member of a debating team must focus clearly on the comprehensive issue and avoid general arguments." Since the structure of the sentence indicates that the missing terms should be opposites, it does not make sense to say that debaters should focus on the inclusive topic while avoiding arguments that pertain to the whole. Rather than being opposites, these terms are somewhat synonymous.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer E :

Choice (E) is incorrect. "Subtle" means refined or artful; "significant" means meaningful. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "An effective member of a debating team must focus clearly on the subtle issue and avoid significant arguments." Since the structure of the sentence indicates that the missing terms should be opposites, it does not make sense to say that debaters should focus on artful, or crafty, issues while avoiding significant arguments. Although the missing terms are somewhat opposite in meaning, they are presented in the wrong order to work in the sentence.

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