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SAT Grammar: 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.

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A.  finalists, the selected  
B.  finalists; and the selected 
C.  finalists; but the selected  
D.  finalists and the selected  
E.  finalists; the selected 

Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8 Grammar rules. 

This question tests your understanding of sentence structure.  When you see the comma you should ask yourself, "Is that comma used correctly?"  In this instance, the answer is NO!  It creates a comma splice:  a grammar error in which the writer incorrectly joins two independent clauses (= clauses that could each stand alone as a sentence) with just a comma.  

Choice A:  We know Choice A, which always matches the original, is wrong.  Let's check the other choices.  

Choice B:  This creates a new error because it incorrectly uses a semi-colon instead of a comma.

Choice C:  This makes the same error as Choice B.

Choice D:  This creates a run-on sentence since there are now two independent clauses with no punctuation at all to join them. 

Choice E:  Adding the semi-colon corrects the original comma-splice and does not introduce any new errors.  

 

The correct answer is E.

Level = Easy 

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ACT English: Sentence Structure

Choose the alternative you consider best.  

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          A.  NO CHANGE
          B.  students, he or she is invited to
          C.  students who
          D.  students they 

Knowsys Method

Check the underlined portion against the Big 8 Grammar Rules. 

In this case, you have a comma.  You should ask yourself one key question:

What does the comma do here?  Right now, it incorrectly separates 2 independent clauses.  It could be fixed by replacing it with a semicolon or with a comma plus a conjunction or by rewriting the sentence.  None of these options are present in the answer choices, so let's evaluate each one. 

A.  Same as the original.  Eliminate it.

B.  This choice has the same issue as the original ( a comma splice), just with different words.  Eliminate it.

C.  This fixes the problem by making "who . . . honor" a dependent clause.

D.  This replaces a comma splice with a run-on sentence.  Both are errors. 

 

The correct answer is C.

Level = Easy
 

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SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

Read the sentence and select the portion of the sentence that contains an error.  If there is no error, select E.

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Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8. 

A.  Anytime you see the pronoun "I" after a preposition (between), think:  preposition + me.  The correct answer will never be "preposition + I" since prepositions require objective case pronouns.  "I" is a subject pronoun since it can be the subject of the sentence.  "Me" is the objective case pronoun.  Quickly check the other choices before marking A.  

B. Anytime you see a verb underlined, check to make sure that it agrees with its subject.  In this case, the subject is "differences" and the verb is "are."  This agrees.  One of the common tricks on the SAT is to separate the subject "differences" from the verb "are" by an intervening prepositional phrase that might confuse you about the actual subject of the sentence.  Always remember that prepositional phrases NEVER control the verb.  Choice B is correct.  Eliminate this choice.

C. The semi-colon is underlined.  Verify that this is the correct sentence structure.  A semi-colon is used to introduce an explanatory statement, in this case the description of the personality differences.  Choice C is correct.  Eliminate it.

D. Here, the issue is also sentence structure.  Should this be a comma or something else?  The comma is correct because it separates two independent and equal clauses (just as "and" does).  This choice is not an error.  Eliminate this choice. 

E.  We found the error in A.   

The correct answer is A.

Level = Medium

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SAT Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

Identifying Sentence Errors

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Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion(s) against the Big 8 grammar concepts.    

A.  At first glance, this portion of the sentence looks fine.  Once you read past the comma, however, a problem becomes apparent.  The verb of the sentence must be “was established” because this part of the sentence is not underlined and therefore cannot be changed.   As the sentence stands, it is a run-on because the two verbs, “is” and “was established,” are not separated with a coordinating conjunction like “and” or “but.”  Given the placement of the underlined portions, the only way to fix this problem is to delete “is” and add a comma in its place.  Then the sentence will read “Head Start, a program that offers services to pre-school-aged children in low-income families in the United States, was established …”  Re-worked in that way, the sentence would not be a run-on anymore.  Even though we found an error in choice A, we should still review the rest of the choices just in case.  

B.  The phrase “offer to” is idiomatically correct and is part of the Knowsys idioms lists.  Eliminate this choice.

C.  To say that the children in the sentence are “from low-income families” is idiomatically correct (as opposed to “of low-income families” or “out of low-income families” or something of the like, which would be incorrect).  Eliminate this choice.  

D.  The phrase “established by” is idiomatically correct.  Programs are “established by” people or organizations; programs are not “established of” or “established about” people or organizations.  Eliminate this choice.  

E.  We found an error in choice A, so E cannot be correct.

The correct answer is A.

This is a hard level problem.

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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.

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, who was assassinated in November 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

A.  John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, who was assassinated
B.  The 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated
C.  The 35th president of the United States who was assassinated, John F. Kennedy,
D.  John F. Kennedy was assassinated, being the 35th president of the United States
D.  John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated

Knowsys Method

Read the sentence carefully, listening for errors. If you do not find the error immediately, then check the underlined portion against the Big 8 grammar concepts.


This question tests your understanding of sentence structure.  What do you notice when you read the original sentence?  It is a sentence fragment that lacks a verb.  Why isn’t “was assassinated” the verb in the original sentence, you ask?  The verb “was assassinated” is part of a relative clause, so it cannot function as the main verb in the sentence. Find the answer choice that creates a sentence with a complete subject and verb.

A.  Choice A is always the same as the original sentence.  You found an error in the original sentence, so you can eliminate choice A without even reading it.  

B.  This choice merely rearranges the first two parts of the sentence.  The sentence created by choice B still lacks a complete subject and verb.  Eliminate it.

C. The sentence created by choice C sounds awkward and lacks a complete subject and verb.  Eliminate this choice.  

D.  Always avoid answer choices that include the word “being.”  This choice makes it sound like Kennedy was temporarily taking on the role of  president, which does not make sense.  Eliminate this choice.

E. By process of elimination, E must be right, but you should read the choice just to be sure.  Choice E contains a complete subject and verb  (John F. Kennedy was assassinated).  This is the correct answer.  


The correct answer is E.
This is a medium level question.

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