SAT Sentence Completion Practice Question 89: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 89

14. Most pioneers ------- this valley on their journey to the West because its rugged terrain and frequent landslides made it a ------- place for travelers.

A. flanked . . fascinating
B. avoided . . necessary
C. encompassed . . curious
D. enjoyed . . troublesome
E. skirted . . hazardous

Correct Answer: E

Explanation:

Explanation for Correct Answer E :

Choice (E) is correct. "Skirted" means avoided, and "hazardous" means dangerous. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Most pioneers skirted this valley on their journey to the West because its rugged terrain and frequent landslide made it a hazardous place for travelers." Since the word "because" indicates that the activity in the first part of the sentence is directly affected by the factors mentioned in the second part of the sentence, choice (E) makes sense: The pioneers avoided the valley as a direct result of their awareness of its dangerous terrain.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer A :

Choice (A) is incorrect. "Flanked" means moved around the side of, and "fascinating" means alluring. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Most pioneers flanked this valley on their journey to the West because its rugged terrain and frequent landslides made it a fascinating place for travelers." It is unlikely that settlers would find frequent landslides "fascinating," and even if they had, choosing to move around the side of the valley would not have been a reasonable expression of this fascination.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer B :

Choice (B) is incorrect. "Avoided" means kept away from, and "necessary" means essential. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Most pioneers avoided this valley on their journey to the West because its rugged terrain and frequent landslides made it a necessary place for travelers." Although it would have been reasonable for pioneers to avoid the dangerous valley, it makes no sense to say that they avoided it because its hazards made it a "necessary place for travelers."

Explanation for Incorrect Answer C :

Choice (C) is incorrect. "Encompassed" means enclosed, and "curious," in this context, means unusual. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Most pioneers encompassed this valley on their journey to the West because its rugged terrain and frequent landslides made it a curious place for travelers." It is not reasonable to characterize the threat of injury or death as "curious," and "encompassing," or surrounding, the valley during the pioneers' journey would not have been a logical result of their discovering the valley's danger.

Explanation for Incorrect Answer D :

Choice (D) is incorrect. "Enjoyed" means took pleasure in, and "troublesome" means difficult. If one were to insert these terms into the text, the sentence would read "Most pioneers enjoyed this valley on their journey to the West because its rugged terrain and frequent landslides made it a troublesome place for travelers." Dangerous conditions would certainly make the valley a difficult place for travelers, but they would almost certainly not find the place pleasurable.

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