Sentence Structure

Link of the Day

Today's question involves Jean Piaget, a man who changed the way that we think about thought.  He would make an excellent example for your SAT essay, particularly because most students do not know about his contributions to psychology. Most students will use the same historical figures: George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., or Hitler.  Take a moment to read about Jean Piaget's life here, and consider using him to make your essay stand out.

10/23 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.  Focus on the first error you find to eliminate wrong answer choices.

Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, and the first scientist that made systematic studies of how children learn.

As you read this sentence, you should be confused when you reach the “and.”  There is no information before the “and” that would necessitate a conjunction.  You are told that Jean Piaget is a Swiss psychologist, but that information is not given as part of a list that would require an “and.”  Once you notice this, you can be sure that your task will be to decide how to deliver the information about Jean Piaget.  Remember that your goal is always to create clear and precise sentences.  Continue reading the sentence and think about its structure.  You will need a verb to fix this sentence fragment: a verb that relates to Jean Piaget.  Notice that the original sentence includes “made” in the past tense.  It is also logical to look for a sentence that is in the past tense because you know that this man was the first to do something.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, and the first scientist that made
(B) Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist, also the first scientist making
(C) As a Swiss psychologist, it was Jean Piaget who was the first scientist making
(D) Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, the first scientist in having made
(E) The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget was the first scientist to make

(A)  You already know the original sentence is incorrect, so do not take the time to reread this answer choice.  (B) The verb “was” does not agree with “making." (C)  This answer is not concise.  Try to avoid “it was” constructions.  (D) This answer choice does not fix the sentence fragment, and it uses the awkward phrase “in having made.”  (E) This answer choice presents all the information in the original sentence clearly, without even using a single comma.

The correct answer is (E).

On, 74% of the responses were correct.

For more help with SAT writing questions, visit!