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Verb Tense

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Barbara Jordan was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate since Reconstruction, and one of the first women ever. She entered the political arena in the 1960's and was known for her hard work and eloquence at both the state and national levels. 

5/14 Improving Sentences

Part or all of the following sentence is underlined; beneath the sentence are five ways of phrasing the underlined material. Select the option that produces the best sentence. If you think the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

Always read the sentence and try to make a prediction about the answer before you look at the answer choices. This will help you narrow down the answers and quickly select the correct one.

After serving two terms in the Texas Senate, Barbara Jordan's election to the United States House of Representatives, where she served from 1973 to 1979.

The first question that occurs to me as I read this sentence is, "Wait, who got elected?" After an introductory phrase like this one, the first independent noun is always the subject. As the problem is currently written, it looks like Jordan's election served two terms in the Texas Senate! That, of course, makes no sense. Since you know that Barbara Jordan was the one who served in the Senate, you know that the correct answer must start with her name.



A) Barbara Jordan's election

B) it was Barbara Jordan who was elected

C) it was Barbara Jordan's election

D) Barbara Jordan had been elected

E) Barbara Jordan was elected

You can immediately eliminate A, B, and C. D and E are identical except for the verb tense. There is nothing in the sentence to indicate that past perfect ("had been elected") is required, so eliminate D. The answer is E.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 76% of responses were correct.


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