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Sentence Structure

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School may not be your favorite activity, but it does offer you an opportunity to learn and to discover your dreams.  In Pakistan, a 14 year old girl has been shot because she spoke up about her desire to attend school.  The Taliban has proudly claimed responsibility for the attack because it believes that this girl’s ideas are dangerous.  This is not a historical event.  It is a current event.  As you select current events to write about during the SAT essay, think about the powerful themes in this article.  What is courage?  Should people take responsibility for solving national problems?  Can success be disastrous?  Is the world changing for the better?  These are all previous SAT questions.  The SAT does not have to be just another test to get through.  It is an opportunity to think critically about the world you inhabit, and to reexamine your perspective and priorities.  During the test you should focus on getting the best score you can, but as you prepare for this test, you are preparing your own future by practicing skills that can help you become successful and learning information that will help you direct your efforts.

10/11 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.  

Read the original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error to eliminate wrong answer choices quickly.

They are smaller than their counterparts in Africa, so Asiatic lions can be found only in Gir, a forest region in northwest India.

Paraphrase the sentence as you read it.  They are small so these lions are only in a forest in India.  Paraphrasing the sentence should help you see immediately that there is a logic problem in this sentence.   Using the word “so” implies that one thing depends on another: something happened so that something else happened.  However, being small is probably not the not the main reason that these lions are limited to a single forest.  Remove the “so” from the sentence.  You have identified the first error, so you could examine your answer choices for logical conjunctions.  However, in eliminating the logic problem, you created a new problem.  Without the “so,” the original sentence becomes a comma splice.  Look again at the first portion of the sentence.  How could you change this sentence so that there are no longer two independent clauses joined by a comma?  It would be very easy to remove the first two words of the sentence and create a dependent clause.  The first time that you read “They are” you do not know what the pronoun “they” refers to anyway.  The sentence will be clearer once you eliminate that extra pronoun and verb.  Look down at your answer choices:

(A) They are smaller than their counterparts in Africa, so Asiatic lions
(B) Its counterparts in Africa are bigger, but the Asiatic lion
(C) The Asiatic lion is smaller than their counterparts in Africa, they
(D) The counterparts of African lions in Asia are smaller, although they
(E) Smaller than their counterparts in Africa, Asiatic lions

(A) is your original sentence.  Remember that it was illogical.  (B) replaces the “so” with a “but” that is also illogical.  There is no relationship between the size and location of the lions.  Those are two separate facts.  (C) has a comma splice.  (D) includes the word “although” which is also illogical.  Again, there is no relationship between the size and location of the lions.  (E) is concise and logical, and it matches your prediction. 

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 66% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT writing, visit 
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