Blog

Idioms

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 that you find to eliminate wrong answer choices.

The first public botanical garden in the United States, the Elgin Botanic Garden in New York City was established to provide plant materials for studying by medical students.

As you read the sentence, you probably noticed that the phrase “for studying” is awkward.  Take a moment to think about the information that is presented in the underlined portion.  You are given the purpose of the provision and then who it is provided for.  What phrase was just used with the “who?”  The phrase “provided for.”  If the who is “provided for” and that information is logically linked, it makes sense to place the who directly after the “provide plant materials for” and let the information about why it is provided come next.  You are simply inverting the order of the information in the underlined portion to better match the prepositional idiom.  Look down at the answer choices and see which one includes “medical students” right after the “for” and then places the information about studying at the end.

(A) for studying by medical students
(B) for medical students to study
(C) to medical students for their study
(D) for the study of medical students
(E) that medical students will study

(A) is the same as the original.  (B)  matches your prediction about the changes that needed to be made. (C) is not as concise as (B) and requires an extra pronoun to say the same thing.  (D) changes the meaning of the original sentence in a humorous way.  Now it seems as if the medical students are being studied!  (E) lacks the emphasis that the original sentence places on the purpose of the plant materials.  Changing from “for” to “that” creates a subtle shift in meaning; it becomes more important to know that the garden provides materials than to know why they are provided.

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 69% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT writing questions, visit 
www.myknowsys.com!