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Style

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 sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then focus in on the underlined portion, and evaluate it using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.

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.

The underlined portion of the sentence should sound awkward and wordy to you.  Look at the phrase “by medical students.”  You normally use the word “by” with a finished product.  For example, a book is “by an author,” but these medical students are just studying.  This sentence concerns the reason for something's existence so you know that how you use the word "for" will be important   Why are the plants provided?  The primary reason that they are there is that they are for medical students.  Others can also study these plants, but they are intended for medical students.  The correct answer will probably have the preposition “for” followed by “medical students.”

(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)  This answer choice matches the awkward original.  Eliminate it.
(B)  This answer choice matches your prediction, and it is clear and concise.  Keep it.
(C)  This answer choice is not glaringly incorrect, but it is not as concise as it could be.  You can construct the sentence so that the pronoun “their” is unnecessary.  Eliminate this choice.
(D)  This answer choice subtly changes the meaning of the sentence.  Now it seems as if the medical students are being studied!  Eliminate this choice.
(E)   This answer choice seems okay, but remember that the original sentence is about the purpose of the plants.  The plants should be there for a specific group of people or a specific reason.  This answer choice makes the medical students of secondary importance and does not adequately indicate the purpose of the plant materials.  The park seems as if it was established simply to provide plants.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 72% of the responses were correct.

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


ACT Question of the Day:

The ACT English questions are structured a little differently than the Grammar questions on the SAT, but they test the same rules.  Check out this question:

The RCA executives who created the 
powerful NBC network were right to see that
sizable profits would come from this new medium.

Choose the best alternative for the underlined part.

(A) NO CHANGE
(B) which
(C) having
(D) as

To answer this question correctly, all you have to know is that executives are people.  When you refer to people you use the word “who.”

The correct answer is (A).

For the ACT Question of the Day, visit http://www.act.org/qotd/.

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

Sentence Structure

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 sentence carefully, then focus on the underlined portion and evaluate it using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to eliminate wrong answer choices.

The main tennis stadium of the US Open, named after the African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe and located in New York City, who won the first ever US Open men's singles title in 1968.

The original sentence is a fragment; there is no main verb to carry out the action of the sentence.  You need to look for an answer choice that adds a verb, but is also clear and concise.

(A) named after the African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe and located in New York City
(B) located in New York City and named after the African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe
(C) which is named after the African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe and is located in New York City
(D) located in New York City, is named after the African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe
(E) being located in New York City and having been named after the African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe

(A)  Eliminate this choice without reading it.  It matches the original.

(B)  This sentence is better than the original sentence because it moves the modifying phrase “located in New York city” to describe the tennis stadium rather than Arthur Ashe.  People may live in one place, but they are generally free to move about, and you cannot state with certainty that they will be located in a specific place for an indefinite amount of time.  However, this sentence does not fix the original error that you found; it is still a fragment.  Eliminate this choice.

(C)  This sentence is still a fragment.  The last modifying phrase “who won…” also describes the stadium rather than Arthur Ashe.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  This answer choice fixes the original sentence structure problem by including a verb.  It essentially says the stadium is named after a certain person, then adds two modifying phrases.  Both of those modifying phrases are as close as possible to the subjects that they modify; the tennis stadium is followed by its location, and Arthur Ashe is followed by a description of his accomplishments.  Keep this answer choice.

(E)  The Knowsys handbook tells you to avoid the word “being.”  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (D).


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

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

Modifiers

Link of the Day

Traveling is easier than ever today, and many people routinely take vacations in distant places.  Travelers can increase awareness of wonders and issues around the globe, but they can also drastically change the places that they visit.  Take a look at this article about how tourists are changing the feeding habits of stingrays in the Caribbean.  Think about the SAT question, “Can success be disastrous?” in terms of the area’s success in entertaining tourists.  Then think about the broad themes and specific details that could help you use this current event as an excellent example for any SAT essay prompt.

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 sentence carefully, listening for errors.  Then focus on the underlined portion of the sentence and check it against the Big Eight Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate answer choices that do not address that error.

Combining both figurative and abstract elements in his paintings, such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn were greatly influenced by American artist Willem de Kooning, a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement.

The key to this question is realizing that the only part of this sentence that you cannot change is an introductory phrase.  In an introductory phrase, the subject is not clear; you do not know who is doing the “combining,” although you do know that the subject must be male and singular due to the pronoun “his.”  For any introductory phrase followed by a comma, the very next independent noun must be the subject of the sentence.  You can eliminate any answer choice that does not have the subject who is “combining” as the very first independent noun!

(A)  such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn were greatly influenced by American artist Willem de Kooning, a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement

(B)  a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement who greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn was American artist Willem de Kooning

(C)  American artist Willem de Kooning became a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement and greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn

(D)  Willem de Kooning, an American artist who became a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement and greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn

(E) and a key figure in the post-war Abstract Expressionist movement, Willem de Kooning greatly influenced such painters as Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn as an American artist

Explanations:

(A)  This answer choice matches the original.  It follows the introductory phrase with “such painters,” but you know that the subject of this sentence must be male and singular.  Eliminate this choice.

(B)  The words “a key figure” identify the artist “Willem de Kooning,” but you do not learn the name of the artist until the very last part of the sentence.  This choice does not fix the modification error that you found, and it is also wordy and unnatural because it inverts the subject and verb, putting “was” before “Kooning” in an unnecessarily passive structure.  Eliminate this choice.

(C)  This choice fixes the problem that you found in the original sentence.  The first independent noun after the comma is “Willem de Kooning” because the words “American artist” modify how you understand who Kooning is.  The rest of the sentence is clear and free of errors.  Keep this choice.

(D)  This sentence is long, but it is still a fragment.  There is no main verb because everything after the comma describes who Kooning was, but does so without a “to be” verb.  Also, notice that Kooning’s name is alone between two commas.  This construction is generally only used when you are providing an alternative way to address someone or when you are addressing that person directly.  Eliminate this choice.

(E)  This choice is unnecessarily wordy.   One of the issues that the extra words creates is that the words “as an American Artist” are now separated from Kooning and seem more connected with Diebenkorn, changing the meaning of the sentence.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 63% of the responses were correct.

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

Style

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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

The advent of innovative computer and communications technology toward the end of the twentieth century ushered in a new era, not dominated by industry anymore, rather it was information.

This sentence has a style problem: it uses very complicated language to say something very simple.  You want to convey the meaning that the era was dominated by information instead of industry.  Look for a concise way to say this that is grammatically correct.

(A) era, not dominated by industry anymore, rather it was information
(B) era, it was dominated by information over industry
(C) era, which was not dominated anymore by industry but rather information
(D) era dominated by information rather than industry
(E) era dominated not by industry, but it was information

(A)  This answer matches the original wordy sentence.  Eliminate it.
(B)  This answer is a comma splice (two sentences incorrectly joined by only a comma.)  Eliminate it.
(C)  This sentence is better than the original, but you do not need both “but” and “rather.”  Both words show contrast, so they are redundant.
(D)  This answer is clear and concise.  Keep it.
(E)  This answer has a random and unassociated “it.”  Avoid answers that include pronouns without an antecedent.  Eliminate it.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 70% of the responses were correct.

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

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

Does history repeat itself?  Think about what you learned in your history classes about the Cold War in general and the Korean War in particular.  Then read this article about North Korea’s threats against the United States.  Why are these events happening now?  What is the motivation behind the actions of different countries?  How could you use the facts from this article to back up an opinion on a variety of SAT questions involving the themes of motivation, power, the trajectory of history, authority, knowledge, and even creativity?

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 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 wrong answer choices.

Listening to good storybooks sharpen children’s awareness and appreciation for the sounds of spoken language.

Check the first underlined word first.  “Sharpen” is a verb, so find the subject of the sentence and make sure the subject and verb agree.  You might be tempted to say that “storybooks sharpen” is correct, but storybooks cannot be the subject of this sentence.  “To good storybooks” is a prepositional phrase, and the subject of the sentence cannot be the object of a prepositional phrase.  Instead, the subject is actually “listening.”  You would not say “listening sharpen awareness;” you would say “listening sharpens awareness.”  You need a singular verb to agree with a singular subject.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) sharpen children’s awareness
(B) sharpens children’s awareness of
(C) are what sharpens the awareness of children
(D) sharpens the awareness of children
(E) is to sharpen children’s awareness

(A) The first answer choice for this type of question always matches the original sentence, so you can eliminate it right away.

(B) This answer choice fixes the error that you found.  It also adds a preposition, so check to make sure that the word “of” is necessary in this sentence.  Parallelism dictates that you should have the same form of words on either side of an “and.”  In the original sentence, you have “awareness and appreciation for” something.  You would not say “I have an awareness for something;” it is correct to say “I have an awareness of something.”  “Awareness of and appreciation for” a certain thing is both parallel and idiomatically correct.  Keep this answer choice and quickly check the remaining choices.

(C) You already know that the word “listening” is singular, but the verb “are” is plural.  Eliminate this choice because the subject and verb do not match.

(D) This choice is more confused than the previous ones, and there is no parallelism.  Instead of having “awareness of and appreciation for,” which is balanced and correct, you now have “awareness of children and appreciation.”  The appreciation is no longer the children’s, and the meaning of the sentence has subtly shifted.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This answer choice also changes the meaning of the sentence.  In the original sentence, you learn that listening benefits children in specific ways.  However, in this answer choice listening “is to,” (exists for the purpose of) benefiting children in specific ways, an odd statement to make.  The phrase “is to” is unnecessary.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 51% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Structure

Link of the Day

The SAT essay question is essentially a broad question about the state of humanity.  That is why you can research a few examples from history, literature, and current events and have details prepared for your test before you are given an essay prompt.  Read this current event about how scientists have connected the brains of two rats.  Write down important details from the article.  Then answer this SAT essay question using the details and facts you wrote: Is there always another explanation or point of view?  If you feel comfortable using this example to support an idea on that topic, try this topic as well:  Is creativity needed more than ever in the world today?  The more detail you remember from a current event, the more likely it is that you will be able to relate that current event to your test question.

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 sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Next, evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate any answer choices that do not fix that error.
  
The finest quality raw silk comes from the commonly domesticated silkworm, Bombyx moriit feeds on the leaves of the mulberry tree.

This sentence is a comma splice; it has two complete sentences that are incorrectly joined by a comma.  You will need your answer choice to fix this problem.

(A) it feeds
(B) feeding
(C) they feed
(D) which feeds
(E) having fed

(A)  Eliminate the first choice because it matches the original sentence.

(B)  The simple subject of the first part of the sentence is “silk.”  The silkworm cannot be the subject of the sentence because it is part of a prepositional phrase (from the commonly domesticated silkworm).  It doesn’t make sense to say that the silk is feeding.  Eliminate this answer choice.

(C)  This choice does not fix the sentence structure problem, and it introduces a new problem.  The word “silkworm” is singular, but the pronoun “they” is plural.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  The underlined portion of the sentence comes after a comma.  If you want to add additional information after a comma, you need the word “which” rather than the word “that.”  This choice fixes the original problem with the sentence by turning the last portion of it into an appropriate modifying phrase.  Keep this choice and quickly check the remaining answer choice.

(E)  Whenever you see an “ing” ending, check to make sure that this is the correct form of the verb.  When the word “having” comes before a verb, it indicates that this action comes prior to another action.  For example: Having finished my homework early, I went out to eat with my friends.  In your original sentence, there is no other verb that could be attributed to the silkworm, so this choice is unnecessarily wordy.  Eliminate this answer choice.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 75% of the responses were correct.

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

Subject Verb Agreement

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 evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Often there will be more than one error, but you should focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

All of the ingredients for Pablo’s secret chocolate chip cookie recipe, which included the special dark chocolate, was available in his mother’s pantry.

When you have a sentence with a lot of punctuation, it is a good idea to check subject and verb agreement.  What is the simple subject of this sentence?  The subject is not the recipe (which is part of a prepositional phrase), but “all of the ingredients.”  The sentence is really about all of the ingredients, which are for the recipe and include chocolate and are in the pantry.  Now that you have identified the subject, find the verb.  In this case, the verb is separated from the subject by both a prepositional phrase (for Pablo's ... recipe) and a relative clause (which ... chocolate).  The word “was” is your verb.  Put the two together.  You would never say “all of the ingredients was;” you would say “all of the ingredients were.”  Once you have identified one error, you can quickly eliminate any answer choices that do not fix the error that you found.  Look down at the answer choices.

(A) which included the special dark chocolate, was
(B) which included the special dark chocolate, they were
(C) including the special dark chocolate that was
(D) including the special dark chocolate, being
(E) including the special dark chocolate, were

(A)  Eliminate this choice without reading it because it matches the original sentence.

(B)  This answer choice fixes the error that you found, but it adds an unnecessary pronoun: they.  Eliminate this choice.

(C)  This choice associates the main verb of the sentence with the chocolate rather than all of the ingredients, creating a sentence fragment.  There is no main verb for your subject.  Eliminate this choice.

(D)  Your Knowsys book tells you to avoid the word “being” whenever possible because it suggests ongoing action that is more appropriate for a play-by-play than most written works.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This choice fixes the error that you found.  Notice that it also eliminates the word “which” and changes “included” to “including.”  This change clarifies the meaning of the sentence.  Read the original sentence and notice that the relative pronoun “which” could refer to all of the ingredients or the recipe.  This ambiguity is eliminated in this answer choice because the present participle “including” clearly shows that chocolate was one of all of the ingredients that were located in the pantry. 

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 74% of the responses were correct.

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

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

You probably already heard about the meteor that landed in Russia.  Take a moment to review the relevant facts here.  Then think about how you can use an event that everyone is already talking about as an excellent current event example on the SAT essay.  Think about broad themes that relate to this topic, such as technology, preparation and planning, fear, organized responses, sudden change, and many more.

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 evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

Since William the Conqueror in 1066, every British sovereign has been crowned in Westminster Abbey except Edward V and Edward VIII, neither of them were crowned.

The underlined portion of this sentence contains the word “neither,” a word that should prompt you to check subject and verb agreement.  There are two people involved in this sentence, but is the subject plural?  This sentence is saying that neither one king nor the other king was crowned in the aforementioned place.  Notice the verb “were”!  You cannot have the plural verb “were” in this sentence; you must use “was.”  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) neither of them were
(B) neither were
(C) neither of whom was
(D) with neither being
(E) with neither who had been

(A)  Eliminate this choice without reading it because it matches the original sentence.

(B)  This answer choice does not fix the subject and verb agreement error that you found.  Eliminate it.

(C)  This one fixes the first error that you found.  Before you assume that it is correct, notice that it also changes the pronoun “them” to “whom.”  Check to make sure the “whom” is okay.  You are talking about a person using a singular verb, so the plural pronoun “them” was already suspect.  Your Knowsys book spends a lot of time on choosing between “who” and “whom,” but one of the rules that you learn is that you must always use “whom” after a preposition.  The word “of” is a preposition, so “whom” is correct.  Quickly check the other answer choices.

(D)  You should always avoid choices using the word “being” because it implies an ongoing action.  The two crownings that did not happen were in the past.  Eliminate this answer choice.

(E) This choice is unnecessarily complex and wordy.  Like the choice before it, it incorrectly uses the word “with,” which generally means “accompanied by” or “characterized by,” neither of which makes sense in this context.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 53% of the responses were correct.

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

Modifiers

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 evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 grammar rules.  Use the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

After serving two terms in the Texas State Senate, Barbara Jordan’s election to the United States House of Representatives, where she served from 1973 to 1979.

One of the rules of modifiers is that when you have an introductory phrase followed by a comma, the very next independent noun must be the subject of that phrase.  However, instead of the name of the person who served, Barbara Jordan, this sentence follows the comma with “Barbara Jordan’s election.”  There is no way that the election served two terms!  Mark this error and look down at your answer choices.

(A) Barbara Jordan’s election
(B) it was Barbara Jordan who was elected
(C) it was Barbara Jordan’s election
(D) Barbara Jordan had been elected
(E) Barbara Jordan was elected

(A) Eliminate this choice without reading it because it matches the original sentence.

(B) A person who serves is not an “it.”  This sentence does not lead with Jordan’s name as you know that it ought to.  In fact, “it was” is called an expletive construction and your Knowsys book tells you to avoid these whenever possible.  Eliminate this answer choice.

(C) Eliminate this answer choice for the same reasons as you eliminated the previous ones.  Notice that this answer choice also fails to provide an antecedent for the pronoun “she,” another problem with the original sentence.

(D) This choice fixes the modifier problem that you found, but the phrase “had been elected” is unnecessarily wordy.  It doesn't make sense to say that after doing one thing, a person had been something else.  The word “been” implies ongoing action, but you are looking for something that happened after something else.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This choice is short, clear, and concise.  It is passive, but Barbara Jordan could not actively elect herself, she had to depend on others to do that.  This is an appropriate use of the passive voice.

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 75% of the responses were correct.

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

Pronouns

Link of the Day

Is the world changing for the better?  There are a variety of ways that you could approach this previous SAT essay question, but take a look at this article before you answer it.  It seems that people are living longer but not healthier.  Look for themes in this article that might show up in other SAT questions.  Some obvious themes are the contrast between young and old, the difference between generations, health, individual ability, dependency, and self-perception.  If any of these topics come up in your SAT essay prompt, this would make a great current event example to substantiate your thesis.  Make sure you note the facts from this article if you chose to use it 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, listening for errors.  Evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.

The wide variety of spices and condiments used in sausage making including salt and, it depends on the ethnic or regional origin of the recipe, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, garlic, vinegar, mace, pepper, chili peppers, or pistachio nuts.

This sentence has two problems that your Knowsys book tells you to always avoid.  Any time you see an “-ing” underlined on the SAT, check to make sure that it belongs there.  You will never need two “-ing” ending words in a row unless you are looking at a list.  Check back to make sure you know the subject connected to the verb “including.” The subject of the sentence is “variety.”  You would not say “The variety including salt,” you would say “The variety includes salt.”  Mark this error.

Then notice the word “it.”  The word “it” must have an antecedent so that it is not a random and unassociated pronoun.  "The wide variety" is the only thing that could be the antecedent for "it," but if you substitute in “the wide variety” where “it” is, the sentence becomes difficult to understand as it jumps from an observation into a list.  The unnecessary pronoun “it” is causing this difficulty, so mark this error and look down at your answer choices.  Only one will solve both of these problems.  The other choices all contain specific errors.

(A) including salt and, it depends
(B) include salt, depending
(C) includes salt, and it depends
(D) includes salt and, depending
(E) including salt and, depending

(A) This answer matches the original sentence and can be eliminated without a second glance.

(B) This choice has a subject and verb agreement error.  “The wide variety” is singular so it requires a singular verb.  You would not say “the variety include;” you would say “the variety includes.”  Eliminate this choice.

(C) Including the word “it” causes problems with the sentence structure of this sentence because “it depends on the ethnic or regional origin of the recipe” is an independent clause.  Notice that there is a comma that comes after the preceding “and.”  You cannot have an independent clause inserted as an aside that is set off from the rest of the sentence by only commas.  Eliminate this choice.

(D) This answer gets rid of both of the problems that you initially identified.

(E)  This answer choice still has the awkward “-ing” phrasing.  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 55% of the responses were correct.

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

Pronouns

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 evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.

About 35 percent of the world’s orange juice is produced by Florida, comparing it with nearly 50 percent produced by Brazil, the world’s largest orange producer.

There are two things that you should immediately notice about the underlined portion of the sentence.  The first is that one of the underlined words ends in “-ing,” but does not have any reason to do so.  The second is that you have an unassociated “it.”  The “it” is intended to refer to the percent of juice, but “it” seems to refer to Florida within the context of the sentence.  Your Knowsys book specifically tells you to watch for both of these things and avoid them.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) comparing it with
(B) but
(C) whereas
(D) although
(E) compared with

(A) You already found two problems with the original sentence.  This choice always matches the original sentence, so eliminate it without reading it.

(B) The word “but” sets up a contrast; however, the original sentence sets up a comparison.  This answer changes the meaning of the original sentence.  In addition, if you read the whole sentence, you will notice that the portion after the comma is missing the verb “is.”  The verb “is” would be necessary for parallelism because you have “is produced” and then only “produced.”  When there is a comma before the word “but,” a complete sentence with subject and verb should follow.  Eliminate this choice for any of these reasons.

(C) This answer choice has the same parallelism and sentence structure problem as the previous choice.  Eliminate this choice.

(D) The word “although” sets up a contrast rather than a comparison.  It also has the same parallelism and sentence structure problem as the previous two choices.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This choice eliminates both of the problems that you found in the original sentence and produces a sentence that is clear in meaning.  It does not have the parallelism or sentence structure problem that other choices had because those words, when preceded with a comma, are meant to link complete sentences, but “compared with” does not indicate that a complete sentence is coming.

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 57% of the responses were correct.

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

Parallelism

Link of the Day

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!

Sentence Structure

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 sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.

Mexican painter Frida Kahlo drew inspiration from her Mexican heritage, where she incorporated native and religious symbols into her work.

The underlined portion contains the word “where.”  “Where” refers to a place; however, there are no places in the sentence.  “Mexican heritage” is not a place!  Mexico would be a place.  Eliminate the “where” and you have created a comma splice.  A comma splice is two complete sentences with separate subjects and verbs that are incorrectly joined with a comma.  The easiest way to fix this new problem is to eliminate the underlined subject “she” and change the verb “incorporated” to make this sentence flow better.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) where she incorporated
(B) in which she incorporated
(C) incorporated
(D) incorporating
(E) therefore, she incorporated

(A) This answer choice always matches the original.  Eliminate it without reading it.

(B) This answer changes the meaning of the sentence and makes it unclear.  It sounds as if Frida is incorporating symbols into her heritage and somehow creating her own heritage.  Eliminate it. 

(C) You cannot just put the word “incorporated” into this blank.  You would need “and incorporated” to avoid sentence structure problems.  Eliminate it.

(D) Changing “incorporated” to “incorporating,” creates a dependant clause that cannot stand alone.  You no longer have the incorrect relative pronoun “where” and you have fixed the sentence structure problem that resulted from its removal.  This is a clear and concise sentence.  Keep it.

(E) This answer choice is wordy.  It is also incorrectly punctuated.  There should be a semicolon before the transitional word “therefore.”  An entire sentence still comes after the comma, and you must avoid a comma splice.  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 57% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Structure

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 sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to eliminate wrong answer choices. 

The North American continent, first colonized by people from Siberia, crossing the now sunken land bridge between Siberia and Alaska about 15,000 years ago.

Something is clearly wrong with this sentence.  Can you identify the main subject and verb? The subject is North America, but there is no main verb!  As it is written, the sentence seems to say that the continent was “crossing” a land bridge – a nonsensical statement.  The people crossed the bridge.  This sentence is a fragment.  To fix it, you need to add a verb.  Verbs often come right after the subject, so the sentence should say something like “The North American continent was first colonized.”  There is another issue with this sentence, but use the first error that you see to quickly eliminate any answer choices that do not fix this problem. 

(A) The North American continent, first colonized by people from Siberia, crossing
(B) People from Siberia first colonized the North American continent, who crossed
(C) First colonized by people from Siberia was the North American continent, they crossed
(D) First colonized by people from Siberia, who crossed the North American continent,
(E) The North American continent was first colonized by people from Siberia, who crossed

You probably noticed right away that only two choices use the word “was”: (C) and (E).  Of those two choices, only (E) puts the “was” where you predicted it would go.  If you are not always able to identify how to fix the errors that you find, don’t worry; you can also eliminate each other answer choice based on specific flaws.

(A) You know this sentence is a fragment because (A) always matches the original sentence.  Eliminate it without looking at it.

(B) In this case, “people” has become the subject of the sentence.  When the subject of the sentence is people, you do not need the pronoun “who” to link “crossing” to people – it is already understood.  Eliminate this choice.

(C)  In this sentence the subject follows the verb: “was” comes before “continent.”  Your Knowsys handbook tells you to avoid these constructions whenever possible.  This sentence is also a comma splice, which means that there are two complete sentences incorrectly joined by a comma.  Eliminate it.

(D)  This answer changes the intended meaning of the original sentence.  Now people are crossing North America instead of the land bridge, and they are colonizing the land bridge instead of colonizing North America.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This sentence has a main subject followed by a main verb.  That verb is not “people,” so the sentence has further been clarified by explaining that it is the people “who” crossed the bridge.

The correct answer is (E).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 71% of the responses were correct.

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

Pronouns

Link of the Day

Many SAT essay questions ask about decision making.  Should decisions be based on feelings?  On facts alone?  How do you decide what is relevant in decision making?  Take a look at this article about a wolf that has found its way to California.  Taking care of the planet by preserving a diverse array of species is important.  Keeping humans and their cattle safe is also important.  What is your opinion about this current event?  What themes do you see in this story that are likely to appear on an SAT essay question?

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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

Chilean novelist and short-story writer María Luisa Bombal wrote innovative and influential stories featuring heroines which create fantasy worlds in order to escape from unfulfilling love relationships and restricted social roles.

As you read this sentence, you should realize that the stories are not escaping from unfulfilling love relationships and unrestricted social roles; the heroines are creating fantasy worlds to escape.  Heroines are people.  To refer to people, always use “who” or “whom,” never “that” or “which.”  Replace the word “which,” with the word “who” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) heroines which create
(B) heroines, they create
(C) heroines, they created
(D) heroines who create
(E) heroines that were creating

(A) This answer matches the original sentence, so you can eliminate it.

(B) This answer creates a comma splice.  There are two complete sentences on either side of the comma that should be separated with a period.  Eliminate this choice.

(C) This answer creates a comma splice and is also in the wrong tense.  When speaking about literature, use the present tense.  You don’t have to match the tense used when speaking about the author.  Eliminate this choice.

(D) This answer matches the correction that you made.  Keep it and check the last choice.

(E) Never use the word “that” to refer to people.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 73% of the responses were correct.

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

Idioms

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 whole sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion in terms of the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the most glaring error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

The reason the film’s stream-of-consciousness imagery is so successful is because of its capture of the sensorial experience of childhood.

If you are just looking at the underlined portion of this sentence, you will notice that the word “of” is repeated.  That is a problem; however, there is a bigger problem.  Look at the phrase “is because.”  These two words are listed in your Knowsys book--they should never be next to each other.  They are redundant; you only need one or the other.  The word “is” is not underlined, so you know that you must delete the word “because.”  From here your goal is to select the most concise and clear wording to replace the rest of the underlined portion.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) because of its capture
(B) capturing of
(C) because of capturing
(D) that it captures
(E) for its capturing

(A) This choice matches the original sentence, so you can eliminate it without spending time reading it.

(B) This choice is not clearly worded because it lacks the pronoun “it” from the original phrase.  The Knowsys handbook also tells you to avoid introducing words that end in “-ing” unless they are needed for parallelism.

(C) This answer does not change the phrase “is because” that you identified as an error.

(D) This answer choice produces a sentence that is clear and concise.  Think about how natural it sounds to say “The reason is that,” and you will understand why this choice is idiomatically correct.

(E) This answer choice changes the meaning of the sentence when it inserts the word “for.”  It also introduces an unnecessary “-ing.”

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 57% of the responses were correct.

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

Idioms

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 evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

Being that she has a gift for comic timing, Esmeralda is a natural when it comes to storytelling.

The Knowsys handbook advises you to avoid the word “being” because it implies an ongoing action, which generally doesn't make sense in written sentences.  In order to improve this sentence, you will need to replace the “being that” with an idiomatically correct expression.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) Being that she has a gift for comic timing
(B) In having a gift for comic timing
(C) With her gift for comic timing
(D) Although she has a gift for comic timing
(E) Comically timed

(A) You can eliminate this choice without reading it because it matches the original sentence.

(B) The words “in having” do not improve the original sentence.  The Knowsys handbook advises you to avoid answer choices that add words that end in “–ing,” unless those words are necessary for parallelism.  There is no parallel verb with an “-ing” in this sentence, so you can eliminate this choice.

(C) This is an idiomatically correct and concise way to express the idea that Esmeralda has been gifted with comic timing.  The word “with” lets you know that this gift is something that she possesses now.  Keep this answer choice.

(D) This answer choice includes an “although.”  This incorrectly expresses the relationship between the two sentence parts.  There is no contrast between these two ideas; they are logically linked with one as the function of the other.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This answer choice is too short to convey all of the meaning of the original sentence, and it is awkward to describe a person as “comically timed.”  Eliminate this choice.

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!

Modifiers

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 sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Then evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Focus on the first error that you find to quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

Although hailed as one of the greatest choreographers of his time, Merce Cunningham's company, founded in 1953, consistently gave performances that caused some members of the audience to walk out.

Does this sentence sound odd to you?  Who is a great choreographer?  A choreographer is a person who creates dances, but this sentence seems to say that Merce Cunningham’s company is a great choreographer.   Paraphrase this sentence to clarify its meaning:  Merce Cunningham was a great choreographer, but his company created some terrible performances.  Now look down to see which of your answer choices fixes the error that you found and matches the original meaning of this sentence.

(A) Although hailed as one of the greatest choreographers of his time, Merce Cunningham's company, founded in 1953,
(B) Although Merce Cunningham was hailed as one of the greatest choreographers of his time, his company, founded in 1953,
(C) Founded in 1953, Merce Cunningham's company had one of the greatest choreographers of his time, himself, and
(D) Although hailed as one of the greatest choreographers of his time, Merce Cunningham founded his company in 1953, which
(E) Merce Cunningham's company, founded in 1953, was hailed as one of the greatest choreographers of his time, but

(A) You can immediately eliminate this choice because it matches the original sentence and retains the modification error of describing the company as a great choreographer.

(B) This answer fixes the error that you found and matches the original meaning of the sentence

(C) One of the problems with this answer choice is the use of the word “and.”  The conjunction “and” links two similar things.  Does it make sense for a company to have a great choreographer and terrible productions?  No!  This answer choice lacks a word signaling contrast such as “although” or “but.”  Eliminate this choice.

(D) The contrast comes at the wrong place in this answer choice.  The sentence seems to contrast being a great choreographer with founding a company in 1953.  If you are a great choreographer, it does not matter when you found a company; it should still create good performances.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This choice retains the error of the original sentence in that it describes a company as a great choreographer.  

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 51% of the responses were correct.

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

Modifiers

Link of the Day:

Is competition always a good thing?  Read this article, which explains why there is no such thing as a brontosaurus, before you answer.  What themes other than competition do you see in this historical example?  How could you use this story as an interesting addition to your SAT essay?

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 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 quickly eliminate wrong answer choices.

Concerned that people will click to borrow an e-book from a library rather than click to buy it, library access to the e-book forms of most U.S. publishers' titles is blocked.

Think about the structure of this sentence.  The part of the sentence that is not underlined is an introductory phrase, modifying the part that comes next.  You know that because it does not name the subject of the sentence.  Who is concerned?  You don’t know.  When you have an introductory phrase followed by a comma, the very next independent noun must be the subject of the phrase.  However, in your original sentence, it sounds as if “library access” is what is concerned.  This does not make sense.  Look down in your answer choices for an answer that follows the rule.

(A) library access to the e-book forms of most major U.S. publishers' titles is blocked
(B) it is important to block library access to the e-book forms of most major U.S. publishers' titles
(C) the e-book forms of most major U.S. publishers' titles are blocked from library access
(D) most major U.S. publishers block library access to the e-book forms of their titles
(E) most major U.S. publishers blocking library access to the e-book forms of their titles

(A) You don’t need to read this option because you already found a modifier error in the original sentence.  Eliminate it.

(B) “It” is not who is concerned.  This does not fix the modifier error.  Eliminate it.

(C) “The e-book forms” are also not concerned.  Eliminate it.

(D) “Most major U.S. publishers” would definitely be concerned about sales of e-books.  This fixes the error that you found.  Keep it.

(E) This choice also fixes the original error that you have, but it changes “block” to “blocking.”  The Knowsys rule is to avoid words ending in “-ing” unless they are necessary in the sentence.  In this case, the extra “-ing” is not necessary but creates a sentence structure problem: you no longer have a complete sentence.  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (D).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 55% of the responses were correct.

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

Verb Tense

Link of the Day

You can learn a lot about the priorities of others by looking at where they spend their money.  The same is true of nations.  Look at this article about UK aid to third world nations.  Is the aid a good thing?  Think about this question as someone who must share the planet with others, then think about this question from the perspective of someone on a tight budget.  This current event touches some tough issues regarding morality and responsibility.  Think about the broad themes involved and note the details that would help you use this as an excellent example on an SAT essay.

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 original sentence to yourself, listening for errors.  Evaluate the underlined portion of the sentence using the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  Remember that your goal is to create a clear and precise sentence.

The most famous case of scientific suppression remains that of Galileo, who in 1633 was forced by the Roman Catholic Church to disavow his finding that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

When you read this sentence the first time, do you see any errors?  There are many things that you can change about this sentence, but there are no errors.  The meaning of the sentence  is clear.  Look down at your answer choices.

(A) remains that of Galileo, who in 1633 was forced by the Roman Catholic Church to disavow
(B) remained that of Galileo, who in 1633 was forced by the Roman Catholic Church to disavow
(C) remaining that of Galileo, forced by the Roman Catholic Church in 1633 to disavow
(D) will remain that of Galileo, who is forced by the Roman Catholic Church in 1633 to disavow
(E) has remained that of Galileo, who in 1633 is forced by the Roman Catholic Church to disavow

(A)  You did not find any errors in the original sentence, so keep this as an option.

(B)  Changing the tense of the present tense verb “remains” changes the meaning of the sentence.  Right now this is the most famous case of its kind, so using the past tense “remained” is not appropriate.  Eliminate this answer.

(C)  The Knowsys rule is to avoid unnecessary “–ing” verb endings.  You already know that the verb “remains” works in this sentence, so do not be tempted to add “–ing.”  Additionally, this answer choice creates problems with the sentence structure.  Eliminate it.

(D)   How do you know that something will always remain the most famous case of its kind?  You don’t know.  The future tense is not appropriate in this sentence, so you can eliminate this choice.

(E)  This time look at the part of the sentence that says “who in 1633 is forced.”  The forcing clearly happened in the past, so this portion of the sentence should read “was forced.”  Note: this logic can also eliminate choice (D).

The correct answer is (A).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 57% of the responses were correct.

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