SAT WRITING WORKBOOK

PART VI

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TESTS FOR PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

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Practice Test A Answer Key

SECTION 1—THE ESSAY

What follows are ideas for answering the essay question given in this practice test. The essay you wrote may contain some of the same or similar ideas. Don’t be alarmed if your essay is much different, however. Your approach to the question may be at least as valid as any of those described here:

Because the prompt invites you to choose any freedom you wish, you can pick one that affects you personally or one with broad implications for society and the world. Perhaps you have strong feelings about issues of freedom germane to high school students: the drinking age, school rules, the right to drive after dark. Or you might discuss freedom more broadly in an essay that argues for a freedom that releases mankind from the scourge war or one that decreases our dependence on fossil fuel. Any issue, from hot topics like gun control and health care to a narrow interest such the law requiring bike riders to wear helmets, provides material for a discussion about freedom.

A good essay can also be written on a less weighty matter. Consider a wish to be free from overbearing parents, tyrannical teachers, or a nosy sibling. You might speak up for the freedom to stay out as late as you wish. Or you might choose something rather frivolous such as your need to be free of foul odors and objectionable noises. Come to think of it, at this time in your life, you might have a good deal to say about being free of the SAT and other college admissions hurdles.

SELF-SCORING GUIDE

Using this guide, rate yourself in each of these six categories. Enter your scores in the spaces provided, and calculate the average of the six ratings to determine your final score.

On the SAT itself, two readers will score your essay on a scale of 6 (high) to 1 (low), or zero if you fail to write on the assigned topic. The score will be reported to you as the sum of the two ratings, from 12 to 0.

Remember that SAT essays are judged in relation to other essays written on the same topic. Therefore, this scoring guide may not yield a totally accurate prediction of the score you can expect on the exam. Because it is difficult to read your own essay with total objectivity, you might improve the validity of your score by getting a second opinion about your essay from an informed friend or a teacher.

Overall Impression

6  Consistently outstanding in clarity and competence; very insightful; clearly demonstrates a command of writing skills; few, if any, errors

5  Generally effective and reasonably consistent in clarity and competence; occasional errors or lapses in quality; contains some insight

4  Adequate competence; some lapses in quality; fairly clear and with evidence of insight

3  Generally inadequate but demonstrates potential competence; contains some confusing aspects

2  Seriously limited; significant weaknesses in quality; generally unclear or incoherent

1  Demonstrates fundamental incompetence; contains serious flaws; significantly undeveloped or confusing

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Development of Point of View

6  Fully developed with clear, convincing, and appropriate supporting material; demonstrates high level of critical thinking

5  Generally well developed with relevant examples, reasons, and other evidence to support a main idea; demonstrates strong critical-thinking skills

4  Partly develops a main idea with relatively appropriate examples and reasons; shows some evidence of critical thinking

3  Weak development of main idea and little evidence of critical thinking; barely appropriate examples or other supporting material

2  Lacks a focus on a main idea; weak critical thinking; inappropriate or insufficient evidence

1  Fails to articulate a viable point of view; provides virtually no evidence of understanding the prompt

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Organization of Ideas

6  Extremely well organized and focused on a main idea; supporting evidence presented in an effective, logical sequence

5  Generally well organized and reasonably focused on a main idea; mostly coherent and logical presentation of supporting material

4  Reasonably organized; shows some evidence of thoughtful sequence and progression of ideas

3  Limited organization and vague focus on main idea; contains some confusion in the sequence of ideas

2  Barely recognizable organization; little coherence; serious problems with sequence of ideas

1  No discernable organization; incoherent sequence of ideas

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Language and Word Choice

6  Highly effective and skillful use of language; varied, appropriate, and accurate vocabulary

5  Demonstrates competence in use of language; appropriate and correct vocabulary

4  Adequate but inconsistent use of effective language; conventional but mostly correct use of vocabulary

3  Some minor errors in expression; generally weak or limited vocabulary; occasionally inappropriate word choice

2  Frequent errors in expression; very limited vocabulary; incorrect word choice interferes with meaning

1  Seriously deficient in use of language; meaning obscured by word choice

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Sentence Structure

6  Varied and engaging sentence structure

5  Reasonably varied sentence structure

4  Some sentence variation

3  Little sentence variation; minor sentence errors

2  Frequent sentence errors

1  Severe sentence errors; meaning obscured

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Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics

6  Virtually or entirely error-free

5  Relatively free of technical flaws

6  Some minor errors; one or two major errors

3  Accumulated minor and major errors

2  Contains frequent major errors that interfere with meaning

1  Contains severe errors that obscure meaning

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ANSWERS TO MULTIPLE-CHOICE QUESTIONS

SECTION 2

1. C

13. D

25. D

2. C

14. B

26. C

3. A

15. B

27. B

4. D

16. B

28. A

5. D

17. E

29. B

6. E

18. D

30. B

7. E

19. C

31. C

8. D

20. A

32. E

9. E

21. A

33. C

10. B

22. B

34. A

11. C

23. D

35. D

12. C

24. E

 

SECTION 3

1. B

6. D

11. A

2. C

7. B

12. B

3. D

8. A

13. A

4. A

9. D

14. C

5. E

10. E

 

Performance Evaluation Chart

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Conversion Table

This table will give you an approximation of what your score would be if this practice test had been an actual SAT Writing Test. The essay counts for roughly 30 percent of the final score; the multiple-choice questions, for roughly 70 percent.

For example, if your Multiple-Choice Raw Score was 35 and your Essay Subscore was 6, the table indicates that your final score on the test would be approximately halfway between 500 and 710, or 600.

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Answer Explanations

Note: Although some choices contain multiple errors, only one or two major errors are explained for each incorrect choice.

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Key to Levels of Difficulty

 

Percentage of students

Rating

likely to answer correctly

EASY

>80%

MEDIUM

>65%

HARD

<65%

SECTION 2—IMPROVING SENTENCES

1.   C   A. Mixed construction. The construction that begins with The captain standing has no grammatical relationship with the main clause.

B. Redundancy. Use either he or the captain, not both.

D. Mixed construction. The infinitive phrase that begins To stand is not logically related to the main clause.

E. Faulty coordination. This compound sentence contains two ideas that would be more effectively stated in a complex sentence.

EASY

2.   C   A. Faulty parallelism. Coordinate elements in a sentence should be in parallel grammatical form. The phrases of kicking and to hear are not parallel.

B. Idiom error. In context, the preposition by is not standard usage. Use of or from.

D. Idiom error. In context the phrase to kick is not standard English usage.

E. Misplaced modifier. The phrase after having kicked a soccer ball should not refer to crowd but to the scorer of the goal. Use after I have kicked.

MEDIUM

3.   A   B. Subject–verb agreement. The compound subject, special effects and gripping story, requires a plural verb. Use thrill.

C. Wordiness. The construction is needlessly wordy.

D. Clumsy construction.

E. Pronoun reference. The pronoun it fails to refer specifically to a noun or other pronoun.

EASY

4.   D   A. Sentence fragment. The construction lacks a subject and a verb.

B. Wordiness and redundancy. The phrase graduates of fifty years ago and the word alumni are redundant.

C. Verb tense. The verb graduating implies present action, but the sentence refers to events in the past.

E. Diction error. Alumni do not graduate from college; students do.

HARD

5.   D   A. Sentence fragment. The construction lacks a main clause.

B. Mixed construction. The clause beginning and who did so is grammatically unrelated to the first clause.

C. Shift in verb tense. Cast in the past tense, the sentence shifts to the present.

E. Shift in grammatical subject. The subject shifts from Bromley to the tale.

HARD

6.   E   A. Pronoun reference. The pronoun this fails to refer to a specific noun or other pronoun.

B. Same as A.

C. Same as A.

D. Sentence fragment. Semicolons separate complete sentences. The construction that starts their performance lacks a verb and is, therefore, incomplete.

MEDIUM

7.   E   A. Subject–verb agreement. Chief of staff is singular; influence is plural.

B. Subject–verb agreement. Chief of staff is singular; are being is plural.

C. Subject–verb agreement. Chief of staff is singular; are increasing is plural.

D. Wordiness. The words increasingly and more are redundant.

HARD

8.   D   A. Syntax error. The placement of already makes the phrase nonstandard.

B. Incomplete construction. The verb should be had died.

C. Diction error. The use of the word whether makes no sense in the context.

E. Diction error. Like introduces a phrase; as introduces a clause. Use as here.

HARD

9.   E   A. Faulty subordination. The first clause lacks both a grammatical and a logical relationship with the second.

B. Comma splice. A comma may not be used to separate two independent clauses.

C. Sentence shift. The phrase beginning Never having lacks a logical relationship with the remainder of the sentence.

D. Diction error. The word however makes little sense in the context.

MEDIUM

10.   B   A. Shift in verb tense. In context, the verb agree indicates future action and is inconsistent with the main verb of the sentence would have saved, which indicates action already completed.

C. Faulty diction. Would of is nonstandard. Use would have.

D. Clumsy construction. The phrase the purchasing of the house is awkwardly expressed.

E. Shift in verb tense. The future action indicated by the verb will agree is inconsistent with the main verb would have saved, which indicates action already completed.

HARD

11.   C   A. Pronoun–antecedent agreement. Flights is plural; it is singular. Use they.

B. Same as A.

D. Comma splice. A comma may not be used to separate two independent sentences.

E. Verb tense. The sentence refers to events that won’t occur until the future. The verb are requiring pertains to the present.

MEDIUM

SECTION 2—IDENTIFYING SENTENCE ERRORS

12.   C   Noun–verb agreement. The word group is singular, the verb get is plural. Use gets.

EASY

13.   D   Faulty parallelism. The phrase it creates is not parallel to the other verbs. Use creating.

MEDIUM

14.   B   Pronoun choice. Use who instead of which when referring to people.

MEDIUM

15.   B   Verb tense error. Use the future tense to describe events taking place in the future. Use will have to be.

MEDIUM

16.   B   Idiom error. Use and instead of with.

MEDIUM

17.   E   No error.

EASY

18.   D   Faulty comparison. Use more when comparing two entities; use most for comparing three or more.

MEDIUM

19.   C   Pronoun shift. The sentence, cast in third person, shifts to second person. Use oneself.

EASY

20.   A   Subject–verb agreement. The subject achievements is plural; the verb has been is singular. Use have been.

EASY

21.   A   Verb tense. The participle being should be used only to describe an action occurring at the same time as the action described by the main verb. Use having been.

HARD

22.   B   Idiom error. The phrase in the bettering of is nonstandard. Use to improve.

EASY

23.   D   Tense shift. The sentence is cast in the past tense. Use boarded.

EASY

24.   E   No error.

MEDIUM

25.   D   Faulty comparison. Add –er to the positive form when comparing two entities. Add –est when comparing three or more. Use quicker.

MEDIUM

26.   C   Faulty parallelism. The verb is not parallel to the other verbs in the series. Use giving.

MEDIUM

27.   B   Subject–verb agreement. A compound subject requires a plural verb. Use stand.

HARD

28.   A   Faulty comparison. Hamburgers may not be compared to McDonald’s. Use similar to those at McDonald’s.

HARD

29.   B   Pronoun–antecedent agreement. The antecedent tax is singular. The pronoun–verb phrase they are is plural. Use it is.

HARD

SECTION 2—IMPROVING PARAGRAPHS

30.   B   B Choice A may seem like the main idea, but it is far too broad for the limited subject matter of this essay. Ideally, it ought to be eliminated.

Choice B contains the essay’s main point. It is the best answer.

Choice C does little more than begin to amplify the idea contained in the previous sentence.

Choice D is too limited to be the main idea. It merely cites examples of changes brought about by technology.

Choice E steers the essay in a new direction. Therefore, it doesn’t qualify as the main idea.

MEDIUM

31.   C   Choice A, a verb in the simple present tense, does not fit a passage that uses the conditional word would before each verb.

Choice B, a verb in the future tense, does not fit a passage that uses the conditional word would before each verb.

Choice C is appropriate in a passage written in the conditional mode.

Choice D expresses a future condition that, in context, is both irrelevant and inappropriate.

Choice E uses a verb in the past tense that is inconsistent with the conditional would, used in sentences 5, 7, and 8.

MEDIUM

32.   E   Choice A is a run-on sentence. It needs punctuation—either a period or a semicolon—between money and they.

Choice B contains mixed sentence construction that leaves the verb incur without a grammatical subject.

Choice C represents the syntax of a linguistically challenged writer.

Choice D contains a problem in modification; the phrase rushing to save money must modify the performer of the action (they), not expenses.

Choice E is an accurate and cogent version of the original. It is the best answer.

HARD

33.   C   Choice A contains a dangling modifier. The phrase Recording at their own pace should modify performers, not audition.

Choice B contains the singular pronoun it that fails to agree with its plural antecedent auditions.

Choice C corrects the dangling modifier in sentence 12 and correctly says what the author intended. It is the best answer.

Choice D, besides being wordy, contains two pronouns (they and their) with ambiguous antecedents.

Choice E contains a dangling modifier. The phrase Recording at their own pace should modify performers, not auditions. In addition, the references of the pronouns they and their are ambiguous, if not confusing.

HARD

34.   A   Choice A includes all the relevant information in a single sentence that correctly states what the writer of the essay tried to convey. It is the best answer.

Choice B contains all the information in the original four sentences. In an effort to contrast online presentations with in-person auditions, however, the writer has mistakenly and illogically contrasted speed and auditions.

Choice C contains the information in the original four sentences but is stylistically weak because it repeatedly uses the passive voice.

Choice D fails to emphasize the point of the four original sentences, namely, Broadway’s embrace of technology. Instead, it erroneously emphasizes the speed of decision making. A shift of verb tenses from present to past weakens the sentence still further.

Choice E conveys the information in the original four sentences. But it uses the word their, a pronoun without a specific antecedent. No doubt the writer intended their to refer to Broadway’s, but this too is an error, first because their is plural and Broadway is not, but also because pronouns should not refer to possessive nouns.

HARD

35.   D   Choices A, B, C, and E fail to develop sentence 17, the idea stated by the paragraph’s topic sentence—that is, the use of the latest technology doesn’t guarantee success. Only choice D refers directly to that point. It is the best answer.

MEDIUM

SECTION 3—IMPROVING SENTENCES

1.   B   A. Shift in verb tense. The verb has been criticized shifts the sentence, cast in the past tense, to the present perfect tense.

C. Shift in verb tense. The verb will be criticized shifts the sentence, cast in the past tense, to the future tense.

D. Shift in verb tense. The verb would have been criticized shifts the sentence, cast in the past tense, to the future perfect tense.

E. Sentence fragment. The construction lacks a main verb.

EASY

2.   C   A. Mixed construction. The use of and introduces a construction grammatically and logically unrelated to the earlier part of the sentence.

B. Comma splice. A comma (between expected and it) may not be used to separate two independent clauses.

D. Syntax error. The word order is not standard English.

E. Sentence fragment. The grammatical subject plant lacks a main verb.

MEDIUM

3.   D   A. Misplaced modifier. At five years old should modify I (the speaker), not my father.

B. Misplaced modifier. At five years old should modify I (the speaker), not my father.

C. Wordiness. Substitute my first haircut for a haircut for the very first time to make the sentence more cogent.

E. Redundancy. First and never had before are redundant.

MEDIUM

4.   A   B. Sentence fragment. The construction lacks a main verb.

C. Shift in verb tense. The sentence is cast in the past tense, then incorrectly shifts to the past perfect, had been diagnosed.

D. Sentence fragment. The construction lacks a main verb.

E. Wordy. Although the sentence is grammatical, its use of passive voice leads to excessive wordiness.

EASY

5.   E   A. Faulty coordination. This compound sentence contains ideas that would be more effectively expressed by subordinating one clause to the other.

B. Subject–verb agreement. The singular subject incorporation requires a singular verb. Use was instead of were.

C. Sentence fragment. The second clause lacks a main verb.

D. Sentence fragment. The second clause lacks a verb.

MEDIUM

6.   D   A. Faulty pronoun reference. The pronoun it lacks a specific referent.

B. Sentence fragment. The construction lacks a main verb.

C. Faulty coordination. The two coordinate clauses state seemingly unrelated information and contain ideas of unequal importance.

E. Sentence fragment. The grammatical subject, article, lacks a verb.

HARD

7.   B   A. Pronoun–antecedent agreement. The noun organization is singular; the pronoun they is plural. Use it.

C. Shift in pronoun number. The pronoun shifts plural to singular.

D. Pronoun reference. The pronoun it lacks a specific referent.

E. Wordy. The phrase their own selfish aims is redundant. By definition selfish aims are for oneself.

HARD

8.   A   B. Noun–verb agreement. The plural noun photographs requires a plural verb. Use offer.

C. Misplaced modifier. The word both should modify veterans, not vivid reminders.

D. Wordy. Both and as well as are redundant. Use one or the other.

E. Pronoun reference. The pronoun this lacks a specific referent.

HARD

9.   D   A. Faulty verb form. The –ing form of a verb may not serve as the main verb of a sentence without a helping verb.

B. Sentence fragment. The construction lacks a main verb.

C. Incorrect pronoun reference. The pronoun who refers to Scribners instead of Perkins.

E. Idiom error. The construction helped at Scribners Hemingway, etc… . is not standard English.

EASY

10.   E   A. Pronoun–antecedent agreement. The noun teddy bears is plural; the pronoun its is singular. Use their.

B. Shift in verb tense. The sentence is cast in the present tense, then incorrectly shifts to the past participle, having been.

C. Comma splice. A comma may not be used to separate two independent clauses.

D. Faulty subordination. The subordinating conjunction because fails to establish a logical relationship between clauses.

MEDIUM

11.   A   B. Comma splice. A comma may not be used to separate two independent clauses.

C. Idiom error. The phrase wherever since is not standard English.

D. Comma splice. A comma may not be used to separate two independent clauses.

E. Verb tense. The use of is, a verb in the present tense, may not be used to describe past and continuing action. Use has been.

MEDIUM

12.   B   A. Dangling participle. The participial phrase that begins Flowing through should modify water instead of variations.

C. Dangling participle. The participial phrase that begins Flowing through should modify water instead of speed.

D. Dangling participle. The participial phrase that begins Flowing through should modify water instead of speeds.

E. Subject–verb agreement. Water is singular; vary is plural. Use varies.

MEDIUM

13.   A   B. Faulty parallelism. The verb spoke is not parallel in form to praising.

C. Faulty parallelism. The verb spoke is not parallel in form to the infinitive to praise.

D. Faulty parallelism. The phrase about the new fertilizer spoke is not parallel to the verb praising.

E. Incomplete construction. The use of both indicates the need for a second adverb paired with enthusiastically.

MEDIUM

14.   C   A. Mixed construction. The first clause of the compound sentence is in the active voice, the second in the passive voice.

B. Faulty verb form. The –ing form of a verb may not serve as the main verb of a sentence without a helping verb.

D. Wordy. The construction contains too many unnecessary words.

E. Idiom. The phrase gang in where is not standard English.

HARD