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Parallelism

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One of the most interesting aspects of living in today’s world is having an abundance of information at the tip of your fingertips.  A released SAT essay prompt asks, “Has today’s abundance of information only made it more difficult to understand the world around us?”  Before answering, read this current event about information storage.  You could use this article to answer yes – we have difficulty storing all the information and accessing it, or no – we are getting better and better at storing information.  There is no right answer.  However, using specific details from this article will make you sound a lot more intellectual than if you just answer with an “I think” statement.  Using facts to back up your opinion is crucial.  Identify other themes in this article that you could relate to other SAT prompts if you want to use this as one of your five prepared current events.

Writing: 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 entire original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then focus on the underlined portion and evaluate it using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Use the first error that you find to quickly eliminate any choices that do not fix that error.

For both his shorter and longer works of fiction, Gabriel García Márquez achieves the rare feat of being accessible to the common reader while satisfying the most demanding of sophisticated critics.

As soon as you see the word “both,” you should think of your idiom chart.  The word “both” is used in the structure “both x and y.”  This sentence has an “and,” but are the x and y parallel?  Remember that when two things are linked they must have the same grammatical form.  In this case you have “his shorter” followed by “longer.”  If you have a possessive for one element, you must have a possessive for the second.  Focus on this error and look down at your answer choices.

(A) For both his shorter and longer
(B) For both his shorter, and in his longer,
(C) In both his shorter and his longer
(D) Both in his shorter and his longer
(E) Both his shorter and longer

(A) You already found a problem with the original sentence.  The first choice always matches the original sentence, so you can eliminate it without reading it.

(B) This choice adds a possessive to both elements, but it also adds the preposition “in,” which means that the structure is still not parallel.  The extra comma that has been added is unnecessary and introduces an error rather than making the sentence more clear.

(C) This sentence is parallel: “his shorter” and “his longer.”  Notice that the preposition “for” has been changed to the preposition “in.”  Does this clarify the meaning of the sentence?  Yes!  In the original sentence, it seems that Márquez is doing something “for” his books (is he concerned about their understanding?), when the focus is supposed to be on what he is doing for readers and critics “in” his books.  Keep this choice and quickly look at the remaining choices.

(D)  This sentence links “in his shorter” and “his longer.”  These two elements are not parallel because only one has the preposition “in.”

(E) This answer choice is again not parallel; however, notice that there is a bigger problem.  Read the entire sentence, and it should be clear to you that without any preposition in the underlined portion this sentence has a major structure error. 

The correct answer is (C).


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

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