SAT Writing: Improving Sentences

Improving Sentences

Select the choice that results in the best sentence – the sentence that follows the requirements of standard written English and communicates effectively.

Jennifer, who is far better at encouragement than punishment, has arranged for another employee to handle discipline.

A.  who is far better at encouragement than punishment

B.   who is far better at encouragement than at punishment  

C.  whom is far better at encouragement than manipulation

D.   who was far better at encouragement than punishment   

E.   who encourages better than punishes


The Knowsys Method

Read the entire sentence carefully, listening for errors.  Then focus on the underlined part.  Evaluate it by checking it against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  If you find an error, use that error to quickly eliminate any answer choices that do not fix the problem you found.

The grammar rule that is tested here is parallelism.  Paraphrase the sentence.  Jennifer is better at one thing than doing another thing.  Notice that you only have "at" once.  The correct wording here would be "better at X than at Y."  Mark this error and look down at your answer choices.

A,  This answer choice matches the original sentence, in which you found an error, so you can eliminate it without reading it. 

B.  This answer choice matches your prediction.  Keep it and quickly check the other choices.

C.   Who does the word "who" refer to in the sentence?  It refers to Jennifer, who is the subject of the sentence.  When referring to the subject of a sentence, use the word "who" and not "whom."  Eliminate this choice.

D.   You might be tempted to change "is" to "was" because it seems closer to "has arranged."  However, note that this changes the meaning of the sentence.  In the original sentence, Jennifer is still bad at punishing others.  In this sentence, Jennifer has either gotten better at giving punishments, or she has passed away.  Eliminate this choice.

E.  This answer may be tempting because it seems more concise, but notice that it also changes the meaning of the sentence.  What happened to the words "far better"?  These two words are important because they indicate that there is a wide disparity between Jennifer's abilities.  This answer choice implies that she might be competent at both activities, but slightly better at one.  Eliminate this choice.


The correct answer is (B). 

This is a medium level question.


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