SAT WRITING WORKBOOK

PART II

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DRESS REHEARSAL: A SAMPLE TEST

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Answer Explanations

SECTION 2—IMPROVING SENTENCES

Note: Although some choices contain multiple errors, only one or two major errors are explained for each incorrect choice. Page numbers refer to relevant material for study or review.

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Key to Levels of Difficulty

 

Percentage of students

Rating

likely to answer correctly

EASY

>80%

MEDIUM

>65%

HARD

<65%

1.   C   Choice A contains a pronoun their, which fails to refer to any specific noun or other pronoun.

Choice B twice uses the pronoun their. Neither refers to any specific noun or other pronoun.

Choice C is the best answer. The pronoun its refers to tradition.

Choice D makes a noun–verb error by pairing a singular verb explores with two nouns, stories and music.

Choice E violates standard English idiom.

(See Faulty pronoun reference, and Faulty idiom.)

EASY

2.   D   Choices A, B, and E incorrectly shift the verb tense from the past tense to other tenses.

Choice C is in the past tense, but it also contains the clumsy and pointless phrase having turned.

Choice D is the best answer. It maintains a verb tense consistent with the rest of the sentence.

(See Shifts in verb tense.)

EASY

3.   C   Choice A uses the singular pronoun it to refer to the plural antecedent schedules.

Choice B uses an adjective, reckless, instead of the adverb recklessly.

Choice C is the best answer.

Choice D, like B, uses an adjective where an adverb is needed and also includes the clumsily worded construction and there is not.

Choice E is clumsily expressed and, like A, uses a singular instead of a plural pronoun.

(See Pronoun–antecedent agreement, and Faulty diction,.)

EASY

4.   E   Choice A contains a comma splice. It also uses the singular pronoun it to refer to the plural noun computers.

Choice B includes an awkward construction, resulting from not knowing, and uses a singular pronoun it to refer to the plural noun computers.

Choice C is excessively wordy. Also, the construction for the reason being that is not expressed in standard English.

Choice D uses the singular pronoun it to refer to the plural noun –computers

Choice E is the best answer.

(See Pronoun–antecedent agreement, and Comma splices.)

MEDIUM

5.   E   Choice A uses a plural verb, were, with a singular subject, program.

Choice B uses the objective case pronoun, them, instead of the possessive pronoun, their.

Choice C uses a plural pronoun, their, to refer to a singular noun, program. It also includes the awkward and meaningless construction, their regard as being.

Choice D includes an awkward phrase, of regarding it. The sentence also fails to say who regards the program as an important aspect of high school.

Choice E is the best answer.

(See Subject–verb agreement, and Faulty pronoun case.)

MEDIUM

6.   A   Choice A is the best answer.

Choice B uses the plural verb have changed with a singular subject, concept. Use has changed.

Choice C uses the singular verb has been with a plural subject, changes. Use have been.

Choice D uses the plural verb have undergone with a singular subject humankind. Use has undergone.

Choice E uses the plural pronoun their to refer to a singular antecedent, humankind. Use its instead of their.

(See Subject–verb agreement, and Pronoun–antecedent agreement.)

EASY

7.   A   Choice A is the best answer.

Choice B misuses the word whereas, which means in view of the fact that.

Choice C contains the singular antecedent whale that disagrees with its plural pronoun they.

Choice D contains faulty expression. It is the whale itself, not its size, that grows.

Choice E sets up a faulty cause-and-effect relationship. The size of a whale’s ear is not caused by the creature’s overall dimensions.

(See Faulty word choice, and Awkwardness.)

HARD

8.   D   Choice A is unsatisfactory because the pronoun they fails to refer to any specific noun or other pronoun.

Choice B is unsatisfactory because the verbs spoils and enhancing are in different tenses.

Choice C is similar to B; the tense of the two verbs should be the same.

Choice D is the best answer.

Choice E is unsatisfactory because the word order in the first clause is nonstandard.

(See Faulty pronoun referenceShifts in verb tense, and Faulty idiom.)

MEDIUM

9.   C   Choice A is unsatisfactory because the shift in grammatical subject from passengers to searches leads to the awkward usage but there are not frequent.

Choice B contains a subordination problem. The sentence would be more effectively expressed if one clause were subordinated to the other.

Choice C is the best answer.

Choice D shifts the subject from passengers in the first clause to searching in the second clause. This shift leads to the awkward usage the searching of their bodies.

Choice E violates standard English idiom.

(See Shifts in grammatical subject, and Faulty idiom.)

MEDIUM

10.   D   Choice A illogically compares students at Campolindo High to school spirit.

Choice B uses so instead of as in making a comparison. The sentence illogically tries to compare students at Campolindo High to school spirit.

Choice C illogically compares students to school spirit.

Choice D is the best answer.

Choice E uses a singular pronoun that to refer to the plural noun students.

(See Faulty comparisons, and Pronoun-antecedent agreement.)

HARD

11.   B   Choice A violates the parallelism of the series of phrases.

Choice B is the best answer. It expresses the third item in the list of home furnishings as a noun phrase parallel in form to a pottery kiln and high-tech stainless steel appliances.

Choice C, by inverting the usual word order, is awkwardly expressed.

Choices D and E violate the parallelism of the series of phrases.

(See Faulty parallelism, and Awkwardness.)

HARD

SECTION 2—IDENTIFYING SENTENCE ERRORS

12.   C   Faulty verb tense. The present tense should not be used to describe an event that took place in the past. Use decided.

EASY

13.   C   Faulty comparison. When using more in making a comparison, use the positive form of the adjective as in more happy.

MEDIUM

14.   B   Subject–verb agreement. The plural noun dilemmas requires a plural verb. Use are.

EASY

15.   D   Faulty diction. When referring to a person, use the pronoun who rather than which.

MEDIUM

16.   E   No error.

EASY

17.   B   Wordiness. Use either once more or again, but not both, because they are redundant.

HARD

18.   D   Faulty verb tense. The past perfect tense should be used to express action completed prior to some other event or action. Use had preferred instead of will prefer.

HARD

19.   B   Faulty pronoun reference. The singular pronoun this fails to refer to any specific noun or other pronoun.

HARD

20.   B   Faulty parallelism. Verbs in a series should be in parallel form. Use represents.

EASY

21.   B   Noun–verb agreement. The plural noun Many requires a plural verb. Use have opposed instead of has opposed.

MEDIUM

22.   C   Faulty parallelism. Verbs in a series should be in parallel form. Use gives them or an equivalent verb in the present tense.

MEDIUM

23.   B   Noun–verb agreement. The singular noun examination requires a singular verb. Use does instead of do.

HARD

24.   E   No error.

EASY

25.   A   Faulty verb tense. Use has been (present perfect) to refer to action that occurred in the past and is still in progress.

HARD

26.   B   Faulty idiom. In standard English usage, the idiom is significant to. Use to in place of for.

HARD

27.   D   Faulty comparison. A double comparison is created by adding –er to the adjective. Use larger instead of largest.

MEDIUM

28.   B   Faulty pronoun case. Pronouns in a phrase beginning with a preposition (between) must be in the objective case. Use me instead of I.

MEDIUM

29.   E   No error.

HARD

SECTION 2—IMPROVING PARAGRAPHS

30.   C   The writer has used “having learned,” a form of the verb used to express action completed before another action. (For example, Having learned about the impending hurricane, the residents evacuated their homes.) In sentence 1, however, the writer intended to say that all students of American history have learned and continue to learn about the building of the transcontinental railroad. Therefore, a different form of the verb is a better choice.

Choice A is an unsatisfactory answer because the sentence uses an incorrect verb form.

Choice B suggests that sentence 2 would serve as a better opening sentence of the essay. But because sentence 1 is more general, it is a more effective introduction.

Choice C is the best answer.

Choice D alters the intended meaning by improperly placing the focus of the sentence on students who studied American history long ago.

Choice E improperly deletes the comma and adds needless words to the sentence.

HARD

31.   E   Although sentences 4 and 5 are grammatical, they are wordy. The phrase “accomplishing this great feat of engineering” needlessly echoes the idea expressed by “great physical achievement.” By combining the sentences, one of the repetitive phrases can be eliminated, thereby making the sentence more concise.

Choice A contains a comma splice. Two independent sentences may not be joined by a comma. Either a semicolon or a period and capital letter should be used.

Choice B is unsatisfactory because it eliminates one of the essay’s important ideas—that the railroad was a technological marvel.

Choices C and D are unsatisfactory not only because they add irrelevant ideas to the essay, but they also create irrelevant links between the exploitation of the workers and other matters.

Choice E is the best answer. It reduces the number of words, eliminates the repetition, and adds interest to the sentence by alluding to the fascinating contrast between the colossal achievement of building the railroad and its horrendous cost.

HARD

32.   B   Although sentences 8 and 9 are grammatically correct, to develop the essay more fully and to improve its coherence the relationship between the two sentences should be tighter. A transitional word or phrase is needed to explain the reason for unsafe conditions.

Choices A and C are common and often useful transitions, but neither is appropriate in this context.

Choice B is the best answer. It provides an idea that clearly links the information contained in the two sentences.

Choice D introduces an awkwardly expressed idea suggesting improperly that only the Chinese workers were exploited.

Choice E not only creates repetition but it mars the essay’s objectivity.

Whether a piece of evidence is good should be left for the reader to decide. Writers shouldn’t editorialize on the quality of their examples.

HARD

33.   A   Good writers take pains to write specifically. The vagueness of the phrase “unsafe and cost lives” in sentence 9 might well leave readers wondering about what perils of railroad work the writer had in mind.

Choice A is the best answer. Along with sentence 11, it vividly details one of the perils faced by workers on the railroad.

Choice B overstates the function of sentence 10 because the writer offers no real “proof” that the methods were unsafe.

Choices C, D, and E fail to describe accurately how sentence 10 supports or develops sentence 9.

MEDIUM

34.   A   The short last paragraph of the essay lacks a main idea. The two sentences contained in the paragraph refer to two different matters: (1) the government’s role in paying for the railroad’s construction, and (2) the character of the men who ran the operation. What the paragraph needs is a topic sentence that somehow unifies these disparate concerns.

Choice A is the best answer. It provides a reason for the government’s financial participation in the project, and it alludes to the fact that the railroad’s construction was basically a private enterprise.

Choice B is an unsatisfactory topic sentence for this paragraph. It is better suited for a paragraph on the debt incurred by the government to pay for the railroad.

Choices C, D, and E refer to matters related to the building of the railroad, but none of them focuses directly on the contents of sentences 13 and 14.

HARD

35.   D   Sentence 14 leaves the reader hanging. It asserts that greed drove the businessmen to engage in fraud but provides none of the gory details. To be convincing, the paragraph needs to be developed with specific evidence and examples.

Choices A, B, and E are related to the topic of the entire essay but have nothing to do with the issues raised in the last paragraph.

Choice C may be a tempting answer because it suggests vaguely that the men condoned shoddy construction methods in order to save money, but that is a detail better left for later in the paragraph. First, the paragraph should focus more generally on the men’s unethical business dealings.

Choice D is the best answer. It correctly describes the material that should follow sentence 14.

HARD

SECTION 3—IMPROVING SENTENCES

1.   D   Choice A is unsatisfactory because it joins two independent clauses with a comma. Therefore, it is a comma splice.

Choice B is a sentence fragment. It has a subject, letters, but it lacks a verb.

Choice C is written in the passive voice and also contains a comma splice.

Choice D is the best answer.

Choice E contains two clauses with no grammatical relation to each other.

(See Comma splicesSentence fragments, and Mismatched sentence parts.)

MEDIUM

2.   A   Choice A is the best answer.

Choice B contains a misplaced modifier. Both should modify reputation and performance instead of diminished.

Choice C is wordy. The word both and the phrase as well as are redundant.

Choice D contains the pronoun its, which refers ambiguously to both faculty and school.

Choice E contains a problem in subordination. The sentence would be more effectively expressed if one clause were subordinated to the other.

(See Faulty parallelismWordinessFaulty pronoun reference, and Faulty coordination.)

EASY

3.   A   Choice A is the best answer.

Choice B contains the awkwardly worded construction Although its being.

Choice C creates a sentence containing a comma splice.

Choice D includes because, an illogical word choice in the context of the sentence.

Choice E contains a faulty modifier; the phrase that begins Calling it lacks an appropriate noun or pronoun to modify.

(See Comma splices, and Misplaced modifiers.)

MEDIUM

4.   E   Choice A contains a pronoun, it, that lacks a reference to a specific noun or other pronoun.

Choice B shifts the verb from the present to the past perfect tense.

Choice C is excessively wordy.

Choice D contains an error in idiom. In context, satisfaction out of sports is nonstandard English. Use satisfaction in.

Choice E is the best answer.

(See Faulty pronoun reference, and Faulty idiom.)

HARD

5.   B   Choice A violates the parallelism of a series. The first two accusations are stated as nouns—cowardice and desertion. The third should also be stated as a noun.

Choice B is the best answer.

Choice C violates the parallelism of a series. See A.

Choice D violates the parallelism of a series. See A.

Choice E violates the parallelism of a series. See A.

(See Faulty parallelism.)

MEDIUM

6.   D   Choice A incorrectly switches the grammatical subject from cell phones to they.

Choice B uses a pronoun, their, that fails to refer to a specific noun or other pronoun.

Choice C uses a pronoun, they, that fails to refer to a specific noun or other pronoun.

Choice D is the best answer.

Choice E incorrectly switches the grammatical subject from cell phones to they.

(See Shifts in grammatical subject, and Faulty pronoun reference.)

MEDIUM

7.   C   Choice A uses an awkward phrase, this explaining.

Choice B is a comma splice.

Choice C is the best answer.

Choice D contains a sentence fragment.

Choice E contains a nonsensical construction: The subject restaurants is unrelated to the verb explains.

(See AwkwardnessComma splicesSentence fragments,, and Mismatched sentence parts.)

MEDIUM

8.   D   Choice A, although grammatically correct, ineffectively uses the conjunction and to link its two independent clauses.

Choice B contains a comma splice.

Choice C illogically uses the conjunction and to link its two independent clauses.

Choice D is the best answer. The conjunction but effectively sets up a contrast between the sentence’s two independent clauses.

Choice E contains a dangling modifier; the clause that begins Reading at should modify your eyes or your mind instead of words.

(See Faulty coordinationComma splices, and Dangling modifiers.)

HARD

9.   E   Choice A is a sentence fragment; it lacks a main verb to go with author, the grammatical subject. The –ing form of a verb (e.g., portraying) cannot serve as the main verb without a helping verb, as in is portraying or had been portraying.

Choice B contains mismatched sentence parts. It is the author, not the reader, who portrays the plight of women.

Choice C is a sentence fragment; it lacks a main verb to go with reader, the grammatical subject. See A.

Choice D is a sentence fragment; it lacks a main verb to go with author, the grammatical subject.

Choice E is the best answer.

(See Sentence fragments, and Misplaced modifiers.)

MEDIUM

10.   D   Choice A contains an error in English idiom. In context the phrase through many countries is nonstandard.

Choice B uses the singular pronoun its to refer to the plural noun countries.

Choice C uses the singular pronoun its to refer to the plural noun countries.

Choice D is the best choice.

Choice E contains the plural pronoun their to refer to the singular noun country.

(See Awkwardness, and Pronoun–antecedent agreement.)

MEDIUM

11.   B   Choice A contains a confusing sequence. The use of while suggests that 2011 and 2012 occurred at the same time.

Choice B is the best answer.

Choice C contains with continuing growth, a construction grammatically unrelated to the main clause of the sentence.

Choice D contains a comma splice.

Choice E is expressed in awkward, nonstandard language.

(See Faulty subordinationMismatched sentence parts, and Comma splices.)

HARD

12.   D   Choice A is a sentence fragment. Its grammatical subject, The Black Death, lacks a verb.

Choice B contains a clause (its origin is thought …) that is grammatically unrelated to the previous part of the sentence.

Choice C contains a misplaced modifier. The phrase beginning Possibly the world’s should modify Black Death instead of origin.

Choice D is the best answer.

Choice E contains was possibly the world’s …, a construction grammatically unrelated to the rest of the sentence.

(See Sentence fragmentsComma splicesMisplaced modifiers, and Mixed construction.)

MEDIUM

13.   D   Choice A contains a dangling modifier; the clause that begins Before going should modify student instead of parental permission slip.

Choice B uses a plural pronoun, their, to refer to a singular antecedent, student.

Choice C uses a pronoun, their, that lacks a specific reference to a noun or other pronoun.

Choice D is the best answer.

Choice E contains a dangling modifier; the clause that begins Before going should modify student instead of permission.

(See Dangling modifiers, and Faulty pronoun reference.)

HARD

14.   B   Choice A illogically compares residents of Chicago to the city of Minneapolis.

Choice B is the best answer.

Choice C correctly makes the intended comparison but includes a clumsy construction, have equally the right.

Choice D illogically compares residents of Chicago to the city of Minneapolis.

Choice E is a sentence fragment.

(See Faulty comparisons, and Sentence fragments.)

HARD