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Oscar Pistorius was so happy when he found out that he had earned a place South Africa's Olympic team that he woke up the next morning with cramps in his cheeks from smiling in his sleep. He will be the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics. He is known as the "Blade Runner" because he runs on specially designed carbon fiber blades. Despite the fact his prosthetic legs rub his stumps until they are raw and bleeding, Pistorius is all smiles. His determination in the face of hardship makes him a great "Excellent Example" for your SAT essay. You can read more about Pistorius and his Olympic hopes here.

7/19 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 that the original phrasing produces a better sentence than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

When you are working on an "Improving Sentences" problem, always carefully read the sentence as it is and look for an error. If possible, always try to predict a way to fix the sentence. Even though your prediction may not match the correct answer (there are often several different ways to fix an error), it will help you to identify the key grammatical principles that are being tested.

Upon winning her third gold medal at the competition, the young athlete learned that her accomplishments had surpassed her coach's, a former track star.

Start by analyzing the sentence and focusing on the underlined portion. Notice that the word "coach's" is possessive. If you think about it, that makes sense because the young athlete's accomplishments had  surpassed her coach's accomplishments. However, the sentence should still sound a little off to you. Look at what comes after the comma (also, notice that the comma is not underlined, that means it has to be there). You are told that the coach is a former track star. The problem is that the noun phrase "a former track star" needs to modify "coach" not "coach's." Instead, it would be better if the sentence were written ". . . her accomplishments had surpassed the accomplishments of her coach, a former tract star." This makes it clear that it was the "coach" who was "a former track star." Now take a look at the answers and look for one that matches or at least resembles your prediction.

(A) her coach's
(B) her coach
(C) those of her coach
(D) those done by her coach
(E) those of her coach's

You already know that (A) doesn't work. (B) just makes the sentence even worse (because now you are comparing the athlete's accomplishments to her coach, not her coach's accomplishments). (C) isn't exactly the same as your prediction, but it does make sense. It compare's the athlete's accomplishments to those of her coach, and the noun phrase that comes immediately after correctly modifies the "coach".  (D) doesn't work because you don't "do" accomplishments. (E) is just like (C) except that "coach" becomes possessive. That's unnecessary and actually introduces the same problem that (A) had (the noun phrase modifies "coach's" instead of "coach").

The correct Answer Choice is (C).

On sat.collegeboard.com 61% of the responses were correct.

For more help with grammar, visit www.myknowsys.com.