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Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

The SAT question of the day is about Gordon Parks.  If you have not yet chosen your five literary examples (or historical examples) to prepare for your SAT essay, consider using Gordon Parks.  This man is celebrated for his writing, photography, and film making.  Read more about Gordon Parks here and think about what a rich example he would make for any SAT essay question involving creativity.

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Always cover up the answer choices so that they do not distract you as you read the sentence carefully.  Use the context clues in the sentence to predict an answer to fill the blank.  Then match your prediction to the correct answer choice, eliminating any word that does not match your prediction in meaning.  Be sure to look at all of the answer choices before selecting one.

With the 1969 film The Learning Tree, Gordon Parks proved what a truly ------- artist he was: he not only directed the film and composed its musical score, but also adapted its screenplay from his own novel.

This sentence tells you that Gordon Parks was extremely involved in doing a lot of different types of work for his movie.  Predict that he was an “accomplished” artist or an “all-around” artist and look down at your answer choices.

(A) complacent
(B) protean
(C) lauded
(D) clairvoyant
(E) harried

(A) Knowsys word!  The word “complacent” means “self-satisfied” or “unconcerned.”  While Gordon Parks may have good reason to be “self-satisfied” after so much work, doing a lot of work does not prove that one is self-satisfied.  This answer choice does not match your prediction.  Eliminate it.

(B) You may know that the Greek root “prot” means first.  You may also know that Proteus was a sea god who could change his form.  From these clues you can discern that protean means “like Proteus” in the ability to work with many forms, just as Gordon Parks works with many forms of art.  If you have no idea what this word means, keep it.  You can still find out the correct answer through the process of elimination.

(C) Knowsys word!  Remember that the word “lauded” is related to the word “applauded.”  The Latin root “laud” means “praise.”  If you check the logic of the sentence, you will see that finishing a movie, no matter how wonderful, will not prove that a person is praised.  This choice does not match your prediction.  Eliminate it.

(D)  This word comes from both Latin and French.  The Latin root “clar” means “clear” and the root “voyant” means “seeing, ”and is related to the French verb “voir.”  Making a movie does not prove that one sees clearly.  Eliminate this choice.

(E) This word comes from an Old English word that is related to an Old Norse word.  Does it sound negative to you?  Think about the word harassed.  You are not looking for a negative word.  Eliminate this choice.

The correct answer is (B).

Words used in this SC:
Complacent: self-satisfied or unconcerned
Protean: exceedingly variable, assuming different shapes or forms
Lauded: praised
Clairvoyant: able to see things not perceived by normal senses, such as the future
Harried: harassed, rushed, panicked or devastated


On sat.collegeboard.org, 45% of the responses were correct.

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

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

The SAT question for today is about a literary figure who loathes public appearances.  Although she is now an established literary giant, no one asked Emily Dickinson to make public appearances because her talent was unknown until after her death.  Read this information about her life and consider using your knowledge of this poet and one of her poems as one of your five literary examples for the SAT essay.

Critical Reading: Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Always cover up the answer choices so that they do not influence the way you think about the sentence.  Read the sentence carefully and use context clues to predict a word to fill the blank.  Then match your prediction to the correct answer, eliminating any choices that do not match.  Look at each answer choice, even if one of the first answers seems to be correct.

Because she has a great need for ------- , she loathes the public appearances demanded of her as a leading literary figure.

This question tests whether you know the meaning of the word “loathe.”  However, you can still answer this question correctly even if you do not know this word.  You can tell that this woman dislikes public appearances because she finds them demanding.  She would not feel that these appearances were demanding if she enjoyed them.   If she dislikes public appearances, then she appreciates the opposite – private moments.  Predict the word “privacy” and look down at your answer choices.

(A) luxury
(B) privacy
(C) reward
(D) devotion
(E) distraction

(A)  Luxury can be either private or public; it has nothing to do with your prediction.  Eliminate this answer choice.  (B)  This choice matches your prediction exactly.  Nevertheless, you should still quickly check the other answer choices before selecting it.  (C)  This answer is meant to distract you if you are only looking for something good.  Privacy could be a reward for an introvert, but “reward” does not mean “privacy.”  Eliminate this choice.  (D) Devotion requires something or someone outside oneself.  It does not mean “privacy.”  Eliminate it.  (E)  Distraction does not mean “privacy.”  Eliminate it.

The correct answer is (B)

Words used in this SC:
Loathes: hates, detests
Luxury: wealth and the comfort it brings
Privacy: seclusion from others, solitude
Reward: something given in return for an action
Devotion: attachment to a cause or person
Distraction: something that catches one’s attention and prevents concentration


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

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

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

Are you confused as to why you have to read things by old dead guys in school?  Here is an article that lets you know how reading quality literature can directly benefit you, even if you do not want to be a writer.  This research will work as a current event example for the SAT if your topic involves the mind or feelings, but it should also motivate you to prepare five literary examples before you take the SAT!

Writing: Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

Read the entire sentence to yourself and then ask, “Are there any problems?”  Quickly check each of the underlined portions against the Big 8 Grammar Rules.  When you think you have found an error, mark it and move on.  Make sure that you identify a grammatical error and not just another way to say the same thing.

Although the number of books written in African languages are growing, many African writers find a larger audience for works written in Portuguese or English. No error

(A) Does it make sense to talk about the number of books “written” in a particular language?  Yes!  Also, the word “in” is the idiomatically correct preposition to introduce what language a book is written “in.”  There is no error here.

(B) When you see a verb, check to see whether it agrees with the subject.  The subject is not “languages.”  The subject is “the number of books.”  The word “books” is plural, which is meant to distract you, from realizing that this particular construction is meant to be singular.  You would never say “the number are growing;” you would say “the number is growing.”  Remember, if you have a construction that talks about “a number” of things, you will always need a plural verb.  If you are talking about “the number of things,” you will always need a singular verb.  The article is important!  Mark this error and quickly look over the other answer choices.

(C) Check to make sure verb agrees with its subject: "writers find."  It does.  This verb is also in present tense, which makes sense in context. There is no error here.

(D)  Idiomatically, the preposition “for” works in this context.  The word “works” can also be used as a noun when you are talking about the works that someone has started or finished.  There is no error here.

(E) This cannot be the correct answer because you already found and marked an error.

The correct answer is (B).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 43% of the responses were correct.

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

Exponents

Link of the Day

On September 30, 1868, Louisa May Alcott published the first volume of Little Women.  The story was extremely successful and has been beloved by readers ever since.  Louisa May Alcott would make an excellent historical figure to use as an example on your SAT writing section.  You can read more about her life here, and if you have read Little Women, remember that it could make an excellent literary example too!

9/30 Exponents

Read the following SAT test question and then select the correct answer. 

Math questions need to be read just as carefully as reading questions. Avoid incomplete answers by making a note of the bottom line. Are you solving for x, or do you need the answer to 2x + 3? Assess your options for solving the problem, choose the most efficient method, and attack the problem! Once you have the answer, loop back to verify that it addresses the bottom line.

If , which of the following expresses a in terms of b?

Bottom line: This question asks you to solve for the variable a.

Assess your options: You could try to plug in the answer choices for a and choose a number for b to try to find the answer. However, that method requires you to work several problems and includes multiple steps. Instead, use algebra to rearrange the equation.

Attack the problem: You see two numbers with exponents. When two bases are the same, then the exponents can be set equal to each other. Your two bases are 2 and 4. How can you make both bases the same? Use the fact that 2² = 4 by plugging that into your equation.





Now you can ignore the bases and set the exponents equal to each other. You now have:

a = 2b

Loop back: The question asked you to find a in terms of b, and that is just what you did. Look down at your answer choices


(A)

(B) b

(C) 2b

(D) 4b
(E)


The correct answer is (C).


On sat.collegeboard.org, 54% of the responses were correct.

For more help with math, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Structure

Link of the Day

This SAT question mentions the writer Toni Morrison.  Toni Morrison is an African American novelist whose novels have received numerous awards.  She would make an excellent historical figure to write about in your SAT essay, and any of her works of literature would also make excellent examples.  Take a moment to read about Toni Morrison’s life here or here.  You just might be inspired to pick up one of her celebrated novels.


8/12 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 and evaluate the underlined portion by checking it against the Big 8 Grammar Rules. Your goal is to create clear and precise sentences.

With the 1977 publication of Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison both received popular and critical acclaim.

Did the original sentence sound odd to you?  Your first task is to identify the problem.  This sentence is hard to understand because the word “both” is misplaced.  The formula for linking two things by conjunctions is “Both X and Y.”  With the word “both” before the verb “received,” it sounds as if there are two people receiving things rather than two kinds of things being received.  You know that the person who wrote this sentence wants to emphasize the idea that there are two kinds of acclaim, but that the sentence is not as clear as it could be.  Look down at the answer choices.

(A) both received popular and
(B) both received popular and also
(C) received popular, along with
(D) received popular as well as
(E) received both popular and also

(A) and (B) can be eliminated right away because they maintain the incorrect structure of the original sentence with the word “both” before the word “received.”  (C) adds an unnecessary comma that complicates the sentence rather than making it more clear.  (D) correctly uses the idiomatic phrase “as well as,” which maintains the emphasis on two different types of acclaim while making the meaning of the sentence clearer.  Remember to check (E) even if (D) seems like a good answer.  (E) may look correct at first glance because the word “both” is moved to a position after the word “received.”  However, this choice adds to the word “both” an “also.”  The function of both of these words is to draw attention to the fact that there are two different types of acclaim, so choosing either “both” or  “also”  would be more concise.  Remember that you want to avoid redundancy.

The correct answer is (D).


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

For more help, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Walter John de la Mare was an English poet and novelist, best remembered for his poem "The Listeners." He is particularly known for his works for children and his focus on the innocence of youth.  You can read more about de la Mare and his poetry here. His unique style and technical ability make him a great "Excellent Example" for your SAT essay.

7/24 Sentence Completion

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole. 

Whenever you have a two-blank sentence completion, try to predict the easier blank first. Then eliminate as many answer choices as you can with just that prediction. If there is more than one answer choice left, make a prediction for the other blank and eliminate any of the remaining answers that don't match your prediction.

There has been little _________ criticism written about de la Mare; indeed, that which has been written is at the two extremes, etiher appallingly _________ or bitterly atagonistic. 

In this case, the second blank is much easier to predict than the first blank. The sentence tells you that the criticism written about "de la Mare" is eitther "appallingly _________ or bitterly atagonistic." You can tell that the two words must contrast. In other words, the criticism is either "appallingly flattering or bitterly atagonistic." Now that you have a prediction for the second blank, take a look at the answer choices. Eliminate any that don't match your prediction.

(A) hostile . .  ambiguous
(B) recent . . illogical
(C) fervent . . complimentary
(D) objective . . sycophantic
(E) temperate . . censorious

(A) doesn't match your prediction well. Ambiguous is a neutral word that doesn't really contrast with the word "antagonistic". (B) is a negative word that also doesn't match your prediction. (C) is a positive word that does contrast well with "antagonistic" so it does fit your prediction. (D) also fits your prediction well. (E) is a fairly unusual word. The root word is "censor," which means "to examine something - usually a book or movie - and delete offensive parts." So something that is "censorious" is something that "censors" things. That doesn't match your prediction. Only (C) and (D) match your prediction.

Since you have two answers left, you need to make a prediction for the remaining blank. The first part of the sentence describes the criticism that has been written about "de la Mare." You are told in the second part of the sentence that the criticism is either very positive or very negative. Based on that information, you can predict that "there has been little fair or balanced criticism . . .." Now look at (C) and (D) and eliminate the answer that doesn't match your prediction. (C) does not mean "fair" or "balanced," so you can eliminate it. (D), on the other hand, matches your prediction well. If you read the sentence now, it makes sense. "There has been little objective criticism written about de la Mare . . . " because what is written about him is "either appallingly sycophantic or bitterly antagonistic."

The correct Answer Choice is (D).

Words Tested in this SC:
antagonistic: contending or acting against
hostile: showing the disposition of an enemy
ambigous: open to multiple interpretations
recent: having happened a short while ago
illogical: lacking sense or sound reason
fervent: exhibiting particular zeal or enthusiasm
complimentary: expressing praise or congratulations
objective: not influenced by emotion or prejudice
sycophantic: given to obsequious flattery
temperate: moderate, not obsessive
censorious: apt to blame or condemn

On sat.collegeboard.org 49% of the responses were correct.

Need to build your vocab? Visit www.myknowsys.com to check out the Knowsys Vocabulary Builder program.

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Katniss Everdeen is currently one of the best recognized female characters by a female author. Here is a great article with a list of some of the all time greatest women writer-and-character pairings. Any of these characters and books would make a great literary "Excellent Example" for your SAT essay.

7/15 Sentence Completion

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

Always make a prediction before you look at the answers. Remember, 4 out of the 5 answers are wrong (so you don't want to waste time looking at wrong answers). Read the sentence carefully and look for clues to help you predict the correct answer. Then choose the answer that matches your prediction.

A true rebel, Leslie did what was _________ simply to demonstrate her inclination to defy taboos.

The sentence tells you that Leslie is a "true rebel" and that she does things that "demonstrate her inclination to defy taboos." That means that whatever she does must be rebellious and "defy taboos." It's difficult to predict an exact word for the blank, but you can still make a fairly specific prediction. Whatever Leslie does is "rebellious" or "counter-cultural" or "against the rules." Sometimes you won't be able to make an exact prediction. In those cases try to make as specific a prediction as possible. Now, take a look at the answers and look for the one that matches your prediction.

(A) intrepid
(B) monotonous
(C) customary
(D) arduous
(E) forbidden

Only (E) describes something that a rebel would do to "defy taboos." (A) and (D) could be tempting if you hadn't made a prediction (they both describe difficult or challenging actions but not rebellious ones). (B) and (C) are the exact opposite of what a rebel would do.

The correct Answer Choice is (E).

Words tested in this SC:
taboo: an inhibition or ban resulting from social custom or emotional aversion
intrepid: fearless, bold, brave
monotonous: tedious, repetitious, lacking in variety
customary: agreeing with or established by custom
arduous: requiring much energy, testing powers of endurance
forbidden: not allowed, against the rules

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

Need to build your SAT vocab? Visit www.myknowsys.com to check out the Knowsys Vocabulary Builder program.

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

Listening to audiobooks can be a great way to multitask while you are doing something else (such as mowing the lawn or sitting in the bus on the way to school). If you are interested in listening to some audiobooks (which, by the way, is a great way to improve your vocabulary and find some "excellent examples" for your essay) you can download a huge variety of different audio books here for free. 

6/7 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.  

On Improving Sentences questions, always remember to read the sentence and make a prediction about what changes would correct any errors you find. This prediction will help you eliminate wrong answers and quickly zero in on the correct choice.

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


Since the first underlined word you see is a verb, you should start off by identifying the subject and the verb in this sentence. In this case, the subject is "listening." The verb is "sharpen." If you have trouble seeing that "listening" is the verb, try thinking about what is performing the action. What is it that is "sharpenen[s]?" It must be the "listening" that is performing the action so the subject of the sentence is "listening.At this point you should notice that the verb sounds wrong. You wouldn't say "listening sharpen", you would say "listening sharpens." The test makers are trying to trick you by separating the subject and the verb . You may look at it and think that "storybooks sharpen" sounds correct. The problem is that it is not the "storybooks" that "sharpen children's awareness . . . " It is "Listening" that "sharpens children's awareness . . . " Now that you have a prediction, it's time to take a look at the answer choices below.

(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

As you can see, answer choice (B) matches your prediction exactly. Note that "children" is possessive because it is the "children's awareness and appreciation" that is sharpened by listening. (A) is clearly wrong because it is simply what was originally in the underlined portion. (C) is incorrect because "listening are what sharpens . . ." is clearly not grammatically correct (once again, the problem is subject-verb agreement). (D) is incorrect because of the parallel structure in the non-underlined portion of the sentence. (D) would read "Listening . . . sharpens the awareness of children and appreciation for sounds of spoken language." (E) is incorrect because it changes the meaning of the sentence (even if answer choice (A) is incorrect, the implied meaning of the sentence is still correct and must be preserved in the correct answer choice).

The correct answer choice is (B).

On sat.collegeboard.com 57% of the responses were correct.

For more help with grammar, visit www.myknowsys.com!












Graphing Equations

Link of the Day

Most of you are probably familiar with the book Alice in Wonderland. The story is a fantastic and whimsical one, but on the surface it would seem to be nothing but nonsense written for children. However, as with most literary works that stand the test of time there is more to Alice in Wonderland than meets the eye. Alice in Wonderland was written by Charles Dodgeson (who used the pen name Lewis Carroll). Dodgeson was a math teacher in Oxford, England, and many of the strange things that happen to Alice during her adventures in Wonderland were actually written as satire to refer to and criticize the newly emerging mathematical theories. You can read more about the math behind Alice in Wonderland here.

Mathematics: Graphing Equations

Always follow the Knowsys Method for math problems. It will save you time not only on the SAT, but also on math tests and quizzes in your school classes. Read the question carefully and identify the bottom line. Assess your options. Ask what you could do and then what you should do, and solve the problem quickly and efficiently once you have decided on a strategy. Finally, loop back to double check that you answered the question correctly.

What is the equation of the line parallel to the x-axis and four units above the x-axis?


Remember, the first step to any problem is to read it carefully. That seems obvious, but it is often where students make their first mistake. When you glance at this question, it may seem a little confusing at first. If that is the case, make sure that you take your time and reread the question carefully. We are trying to find the equation of a line that is parallel to the x-axis. That means that the line will run horizontally. In other words, the slope (which is the rise over the run) will be zero. The line will also be 4 units above the x-axis. That means that the y intercept will be 4. At this point we could check each answer and graph the different equations until we find one that fits. That might seem like a tempting choice but remember, we want to solve the problem as quickly as possible (to leave time for the other problems in the section). It would be much faster to remember the slope intercept form of the equation for a line, y = mx + b. In this case the slope (m) is zero and the y-intercept (b) is 4. Our equation, then, must be y = 4. Now we look at the answers below to find the one that matches our prediction.

(A) x = 4


(B) x = -4


(C) y = -4


(D) y = 0


(E) y = 4

We can see that E matches our prediction exactly, and that is the correct answer.

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

For more help with math, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Graphing Equations

Link of the Day

Since I shamefully allowed both Star Wars Day and Cinco de Mayo to pass without comment, I'll make up for it with two links. First, a brief history of Cinco de Mayo explains what the holiday is as well as who celebrates it, why, and how. Second, this article about Star Wars as a religious allegory reveals that no one is sure which (if any) religion is portrayed in Lucas' famous series. Happy Cinco de Mayo, and May the Fourth be with you!

5/6 Graphing Equations

Read the following SAT test question and then select your answer. 

Always follow the Knowsys Method: Read carefully, getting information not only from the question itself but also from any charts, graphs, or figures included. Make careful note of labels and scales on all images. Identify the bottom line and copy it at the top of your scratch work. Assess your options, select the fastest way to solve the problem, and attack. Loop back to make sure you answered the question correctly.

math image

The function y=f(x), defined for , is graphed above. For how many different values of x is f(x) = 0.2

First, write at the top of your scratch work # times f(x) = 0.2 = ?

Next, assess your options. You could try plugging in 0.2, but you have nothing to plug it into. You could guess, but (while that is always an option on the test) that choice will not help you during practice. Your only option is to look at the graph and count.



Make sure you pay attention to the labels on the graph. You're looking for points where f(x) = 0.2, so first draw a line at y = 0.2. Since the scale on this graph is 0.5, you need to draw a horizontal line a little less than halfway up to the first tick mark above the x-axis. Next, simply count how many times the two lines intersect.

A) None

B) One

C) Two

D) Three

E) Four

The answer is E.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 39% of responses were correct.


For more help with math, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

Henry David Thoreau is famous for his reclusive nature. For more than two years, he lived in complete solitude by now-famous Walden Pond in Massachusetts. During that time, he reflected on the nature of humanity, of the world, and of nature itself. His famous book Walden documents his musing during this hermitage. 

5/1 Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted into the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

Remember to read the sentence carefully before looking at the answer choices.  Use the clues in the sentence to predict an answer, then look for a synonym of your prediction among the answer choices.

Because she has a great need for ------, she loathes the public appearances demanded of her as a leading literary figure.

The first clue in this sentence is the word "Because."  "Because" is a subordinating conjunction (it introduces a clause and makes it dependent on another clause in the sentence), and it indicates a cause-and-effect relationship between two things.  In this sentence, the cause is the author's need, and the effect is that she loathes public appearances.  The second clue is the word "loathes."  If you don't know what loathing is, this sentence is difficult to predict.  However, if you know that it means "to hate, detest, or revile," you can deduce that the author prefers isolation to crowds. Isolation or solitude could work as your prediction. Now check each answer choice by asking, "Does [choice] mean solitude?"



A) luxury

B) privacy

C) reward

D) devotion

E) distraction

Luxury and reward both have to do with money, not solitude, so eliminate A and C. Devotion means being dedicated to a person or cause, so eliminate D. A distraction is something that makes it difficult to focus, which also has nothing to do with isolation or solitude. Eliminate E. The answer is B.

Words tested in this SC:
Luxury: extremely wealthy and comfortable surroundings
Privacy: the state of not being seen by others
Reward: something of value given in return for an act
Devotion: feelings of strong or fervent affection; dedication
Distraction: something that diverts the attention


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

Need to build your SAT Vocab?  Visit www.myknowsys.com to check out the Knowsys Vocabulary Builder Program.

Idioms

Link of the Day

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the most famous and most well-loved authors in the Spanish-speaking world. His autobiography broke records in 2001 as the best-selling book ever. He is known for writing in the genre of magic realism, seamlessly blending the fantastical and the everyday. One of my favorite short stories of his is A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, in which a decrepit old man with wings tumbles out of the sky after a storm and is put on display by the farmers who find him. Soon the farmers begin to charge for admittance and make a handsome profit off the strange old man. Villagers come to debate whether he is an angel or just a strange old sailor who smells like fish. Read and decide for yourself!

4/26 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 sounds better than any of the alternatives, select choice A.

First, read the sentence to see what sounds strange or wrong. Use that as your prediction and look among the answer choices for something that fixes the problem you found.

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

The biggest problem here is the word "both." Whenever you see the construction "both X and Y," remember that all the words between "both" and "and" need to be duplicated or paralleled after the word "and." The original sentence said "both his shorter and longer works," using "longer" as the parallel word for "shorter" but ignoring "his." Look for an answer choice that uses "both" correctly.


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

Choice B adds the word "in" and some unnecessary punctuation. Eliminate it. Choice C places "in" before "both" and correctly replicates the words between "both" and "and." C might be the correct answer, but check the others first. Choice D duplicates the word "his" but ignores "in," so you can eliminate it as well. Choice E drops the word "his" after the "and," so it is not correct either. The answer is C, which has the added benefit of using the more appropriate pronoun "in" to discuss what Marquez accomplishes within his writing. Here is the corrected sentence:

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


On sat.collegeboard.org, 67% of responses were correct.


For more help with grammar, visit www.myknowsys.com!

Subject Verb Agreement

Link of the Day

Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart is one of the first and one of the most famous English works written by an African author. Achebe skillfully portrays his native Ibo culture as one full of rich history and traditions, though the main character is eventually destroyed by his stubborn determination to hold onto the culture he knew as a boy. This book could be used in an essay about culture clashes, colonialism, masculinity, or a host of other topics. 

4/17 Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

First, read the sentence to see whether anything sounds wrong. If something sounds "off" or strange, check it against the rules of standard written English. If the answer choice you predicted is breaking the rules, it is the correct answer.

Although the number of books written in African languages are growing, many African writers find a larger audience for works written in Portuguese or English. No error


Does anything sound strange? If not, start with A.

A) "written in" is a participle introducing the participial phrase "written in African languages." The phrase modifies the noun "books." Since it is modifying a noun and placed immediately next to that noun, the participle is used correctly.

B) "are growing" is the main verb phrase of the dependent clause. Check both subject-verb agreement and verb tense. Since you already have the verb, look for the subject. What are growing? "African languages" is closest to the verb, but obviously the languages aren't growing. The next noun back is "books," but books don't grow either. Move closer to the beginning of the sentence. The only noun left is "number," and it makes perfect sense for the number of books in a category to grow. Now that you have the subject, check whether the subject agrees with the verb. "The number... are growing." That does not match because "the number of" is always singular. ("A number of," meaning several, is plural.) B might be the correct answer.

C) "find" is the main verb of the sentence. It is plural, and it matches its subject, "African writers." It is also in present tense, which matches the tense of "are growing." It is used correctly.

D) "for works" is a prepositional phrase that modifies the noun "audience." It is used correctly.

The answer is B.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 42% of responses were correct. 

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

West Side Story is one of the most famous retellings of Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet that has been written. It maintains the original "gang" mentality and love story central to Shakespeare's original, but the costumes, characters, and even languages are changed to match the time and place of the new version of the story. The lasting fame of both versions of the tale prove that true love can transcend all boundaries. 

4/10 Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

First, cover the answer choices, read the sentence, and make a prediction. After that, match your prediction to the answer choices and select the one that has the closest meaning. For two-blank sentences, select the easier blank first, and remember that the easy blank is not always the first blank.

Understandably, it is the ------ among theater critics who become most incensed when producers insist on ------ classic plays.

The first clue here is the word "incensed." If you didn't know that it means "angry," you could infer from the word "insist" that the producers are doing something with classic plays that these particular critics do not like. Ask yourself what tends to upset theater critics--obviously, they are upset when producers seek to change the original play. Now you have a prediction:

Understandably, it is the ------ among theater critics who become most incensed when producers insist on changing classic plays.


Compare that prediction to the answer choices:

A) strategists . . discussing

B) mediators . . staging

C) conformists . . praising

D) traditionalists . . recognizing

E) purists . . reinterpreting

Eliminate C and D because "praising" and "recognizing" the original version of a play would please, rather than upset, a theater critic. Similarly, "discussing" or "staging" a play is hardly a reason for someone to become incensed. That only leaves E, and it is logical that a "purist," someone who is loyal to the original, "pure" material, would be upset when someone "reinterprets" a play.

Words tested in this SC:
strategist: One who devises a plan of action
discuss: to converse or debate
mediator: negotiator
stage: to produce on a stage; to perform a play
conformist: someone who acts in accordance with others or with the expectations of others
praise: to commend
traditionalist: a person who holds strongly to the more common or older system
recognize: to acknowledge the existence, legality, or prestige of something
purist: an advocate of the traditionally correct way of doing things
reinterpret: to illustrate or portray in a new way


On sat.collegeboard.org, 59% of responses were correct.

Need to build your SAT Vocab?  Visit www.myknowsys.com to check out the Knowsys Vocabulary Builder Program.

Idioms

Link of the Day

Maria Luisa Bombal wrote "highly poetic works about women trapped within the constraints of a patriarchal society" and blurs the lines between realism and fantasy. 

4/8 Improving Sentences

Part or all of the following sentence is underlined; beneath 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. 

Always read the sentence before looking at the answer choice so that you can make a prediction. Remember not to look at choice A until last; since it is the same as the original sentence, it is a waste of your time. 

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

There are only three words in the underlined portion of this sentence, so it will be easy to check each of them individually. First, "heroines" is the plural form of "heroine," a female hero. Always include the "e" on the end of the word! "Heroines" is also the object of the preposition "about" and the subject of the relative clause that extends to the end of the sentence. The verb of the clause is "create," which is plural to match "heroines," so both of those words are used correctly. 

Next, look at "which." "Which" is a relative pronoun, so it introduces a clause that relates to a specific noun in the sentence. When you see a word like "who," "whom," "which," or "that," always check to which noun the clause connects. In this case, it is "heroines." "Which" should never refer to a person! Use "who" or "whom" for people and "which" or "that" for things. Now that you have a prediction, look at the answer choices. 

A) heroines which create

B) heroines, they create

C) heroines, they created

D) heroines who create

E) heroines that were creating

The answer is D. 


On sat.collegeboard.org, 76% of responses were correct. 

Want more help with grammar? Visit www.myknowsys.com!

Sentence Completions

Link of the Day

You may not have heard of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, but her inventive mind spawned one of the most well-known creatures in all of literature--Dr. Frankenstein's monster! Frankenstein's monster is a corpse that he reanimates using the power of electricity, and in 1816 electricity was a new and, to some, frightening idea. Frankenstein's monster could be an excellent example to illustrate humanity's innate fear of change and of the unknown. 

4/7 Sentence Completions

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

Always follow the Knowsys Method for sentence completions: Cover the answers, read the sentence carefully, and make a prediction based on the clues given in the sentence. Match your answers to the prediction and then select the answer that is the most similar to the word you selected.

The impoverished city lacked the financial means to update its ------ electrical infrastructure.

What clues are embedded in the sentence to lead you to the right answer? Something in need of an update is archaic, outdated, or simply old. Moreover, a city that is impoverished would logically have a difficult time paying for the much-needed improvements to keep its equipment and facilities up to date. Look for an answer choice that is a synonym of "old," "outdated," and "archaic."


A) despondent

B) antiquated

C) rejuvenated

D) superlative

E) esoteric

Eliminate C immediately because something "rejuvenated" has been made young and new again; the opposite of old and archaic. Something "superlative" (D) is the best in its class, so that can go as well. You are left with "despondent," "antiquated," and "esoteric." Even if you do not know what the other words mean, you can reason that "antiquated" is very similar to the word "antique" and probably refers to something old or something that is not as useful as it used to be.

The answer is B.


On sat.collegeboard.org, 69% of responses were correct.


Need to build your SAT Vocab?  Visit www.myknowsys.com to check out the Knowsys Vocabulary Builder Program.

Pronouns

Link of the Day

BJ Keeton is an author, blogger, and English teacher. His book reviews don't always reveal much about the plot, but they provide a source of quality titles from which you can find many excellent examples. 

3/30 Identifying Sentence Errors

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

Remember to read through the sentence first, make a prediction, and check that prediction against the grammatical rules you know for proper English. 

By the time Mitzie and myself got to the box office, all of the tickets for the show had already been soldNo error
There is an error in this sentence, but it is commonly used and subtle enough that you might not notice. Look at choice B. "Myself" is a pronoun, so check for its antecedent. What does it refer to? There is nothing in the sentence for this pronoun to replace. To get a better idea of what exactly is wrong here, remove Mitzie from the sentence. 

By the time myself got to the box office, all of the tickets for the show had already been sold.

I don't know anyone who speaks or writes this way. The correct form of a pronoun used as the subject of the sentence is "I". 

A: "By the time" is a prepositional phrase with the preposition "by" and the object "time." It is used correctly. 

C: "all" is an indefinite pronoun referring to the tickets. It is used correctly. 

D: "been sold" is part of the verb phrase "had been sold," which conveys the fact that the tickets were gone before the speaker reached the box office. It is used correctly. 

The answer is B.