Practice Test C Answer Key


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:

To argue that envy can occasionally be beneficial, find examples that show its potential to do good. Maybe you know of poor people whose envy of wealth or a particular lifestyle inspired them to lift their sights and achieve great things. Envy of others’ intellect, physical prowess, talents, and social graces—all these and more can lead ambitious individuals to emulate, even surpass the accomplishments of those they envy. (One word of caution, though: in your essay, don’t mistake admiration for envy.)

For every instance of envy as a force for good, however, there are numerous situations that illustrate the harm that envy can bring about. Envy has a way of breeding unhappiness. It often indicates dissatisfaction with one’s own life and circumstances. It erodes self-confidence and can incite resentment, hatred, and despair. In Shakespeare’s play Othello, the title character, a brave and respected warrior, is tragically destroyed by envy, or more accurately, by jealousy, a common variety of envy. Or consider a young man—call him James—whose envy of his friend Scott’s success in school and in life drives him to distraction. James knows he can’t match Scott’s good fortune. Instead of rejoicing in Scott’s success, he spreads nasty rumors about Scott and his family, thereby wrecking what could have been a valuable and rewarding friendship.

Envy can cause trouble among workers in a factory, office, or school. A salesperson might envy the performance of his fellow workers and lodge complaints against them. Envy can poison the atmosphere in a workplace and lower productivity. One company, envying another’s reputation or ability to control a certain market, can try to undermine or even sabotage its competitor. In addition, history is filled with instances of nations craving the land, resources, seaports, or the riches of other countries and sending armies to seize them. Germany’s actions in the 1930s provoked the world into war for that very reason.


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


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


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


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


Generally inadequate but demonstrates potential competence; contains some confusing aspects


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


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

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Development of Point of View


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


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


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


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


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


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

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Organization of Ideas


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


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


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


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


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


No discernable organization; incoherent sequence of ideas

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Language and Word Choice


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


Demonstrates competence in use of language; appropriate and correct vocabulary


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


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


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


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

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Sentence Structure


Varied and engaging sentence structure


Reasonably varied sentence structure


Some sentence variation


Little sentence variation; minor sentence errors


Frequent sentence errors


Severe sentence errors; meaning obscured

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Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics


Virtually or entirely error-free


Relatively free of technical flaws


Some minor errors; one or two major errors


Accumulated minor and major errors


Contains frequent major errors that interfere with meaning


Contains severe errors that obscure meaning

Score image




  1. B

13. E

25. C

  2. D

14. D

26. B

  3. B

15. A

27. D

  4. E

16. A

28. C

  5. B

17. C

29. B

  6. D

18. E

30. C

  7. D

19. B

31. C

  8. E

20. D

32. B

  9. A

21. B

33. A

10. E

22. D

34. B

11. C

23. E

35. E

12. C

24. B



  1. A

  6. B

11. D

  2. D

  7. E

12. E

  3. B

  8. C

13. D

  4. D

  9. B

14. E

  5. A

10. B


Performance Evaluation Chart


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.


Answer Explanations


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

TIP images

Key to Levels of Difficulty


Percentage of students


likely to answer correctly







1.   B   A. Subject–verb agreement. The singular verb explains fails to agree with the plural subject descriptions.

C. Verb tense. The participle having boomed is used instead of the present perfect have boomed.

D. Word choice. The contraction it’s is used instead of the possessive its.

E. Subject–verb agreement. The singular verb is fails to agree with the plural subject descriptions.


2.   D   A. Faulty parallelism. Elements being compared in a sentence must be in the same grammatical form. Jogging differs in form from as if you walk.

B. Faulty parallelism. See A.

C. Faulty comparison. Jogging, a gerund, may not be compared to a phrase, than to walk.

E. Faulty pronoun reference. The pronoun it fails to refer to a specific noun or other pronoun.


3.   B   A. Tense shift. The verb tense improperly shifts from the past to the present progressive in the second clause.

C. Tense shift. The verb tense improperly shifts from the past to the present in the second clause.

D. Incomplete construction. The absence of the pronoun she causes meaning to be distorted.

E. Tense shift. The verb tense improperly shifts from the past to other tenses in the second clause.


4.   E   A. Faulty comparison. The phrase more happier is redundant. Use happier or more happy.

B. Idiom error. In context the construction happier but me is not standard English.

C. Idiom error. In context the construction more happy like myself is not standard English.

D. Tense shift. The verb tense improperly shifts from the past to the present.


5.   B   A. Idiom error. The phrase authority about is not standard English.

C. Clumsy construction. The phrase improve more thoroughly is awkward.

D. Wordy and repetitious. The use of airline, airplanes, and airport leads to an excessively wordy sentence.

E. Word choice. In context the adjective thorough is incorrect. The word should be thoroughly, an adverb.


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

B. Mixed construction. The first and second clauses are grammatically unrelated.

C. Wordy. The entire clause, containing a string of three prepositional phrases, is excessively wordy.

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


7.   D   A. Incomplete construction. The phrase or did not is both misplaced and incomplete. Insert the words did or did not communicate after in fact.

B. Incomplete construction. The phrase or did not is both misplaced and incomplete. Insert the words did or did not communicate after Troy.

C. Clumsy construction. The phrase communicating by Troy with Gabriella is awkwardly worded.

E. Clumsy construction. By using Troy as the grammatical subject, the sentence makes no sense.


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

B. Pronoun–antecedent agreement. Fairfield High School is singular; they is plural. Use it.

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

D. Word choice. In context the use of consequently makes no sense.


9.   A   B. Tense shift. The sentence, cast in the present tense, shifts to the past.

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

D. Faulty comparison. Popularity is compared to Florida, an illogical comparison.

E. Idiom error. The phrase has greater popularity as is nonstandard English.


10.   E   A. Dangling participle. The phrase that begins Wandering through should modify he instead of everything.

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

C. Awkwardness. The construction awkwardly separates the subject and the verb.

D. Dangling participle. The phrase that begins While wandering through should modify he instead of everything.


11.   C   A. Idiom error. Event is a noun that must be defined by another noun, notby a subordinate clause.

B. Idiom error. See A.

D. Clumsy construction. The wording of the separating is awkward.

E. Pronoun choice. Pronouns in prepositional phrases should be in the objective case. Use him.



12.   C   Diction error. Use as instead of than when pointing out likenesses.


13.   E   No error.


14.   D   Faulty comparison. Winners is being compared to last year, an illogical comparison. Use last year’s (senior class).


15.   A   Pronoun–antecedent agreement. The antecedent A disruptive student is singular. The pronoun they is plural. Use Disruptive students.


16.   A   Idiom error. Use in instead of for.


17.   C   Faulty parallelism. Items in a series should be in grammatically parallel form. Use stole instead of were stealing.


18.   E   No error.


19.   B   Verb form. The past perfect form of to bite is bitten. Use had been bitten.


20.   D   Pronoun–antecedent agreement. The antecedent Gilbert W. Davis is singular; the pronoun their is plural. Use his.


21.   B   Idiom error. Use at instead of for.


22.   D   Diction error. Adjectives are used with linking verbs to modify verbs. Use beautiful.


23.   E   No error.


24.   B   Subject–verb agreement. Attitude is singular; were is plural. Use was.


25.   C   Diction error. Use when or while instead of as.


26.   B   Subject–verb agreement. The subject following is singular; the verb have is plural. Use has.


27.   D   Pronoun case. A pronoun that serves as the object of a preposition (without) must be in the objective case. Use me.


28.   C   Idiom error. In standard English neither is paired with nor, not with or.


29.   B   Subject–verb agreement. The compound subject problem and issues is plural; the verb is is singular. Use are.



30.   C   Choice A implies that the essay’s purpose is to point out technological marvels of the twentieth century. But the purpose is deeper—to show that technological progress in the twentieth century failed to benefit all people.

Choice B is similar to choice A and also contains an inappropriate colloquialism.

Choice D incorrectly suggests that the essay is meant to discuss the prospects for continued technological progress.

Choice E summarizes the three areas discussed in the essay but indicates that we would be better off without technological progress, an idea neither stated nor implied by the essay.


31.   C   Choice A repeats energy unnecessarily and contains an incomplete comparison. Cheaper than what?

Choice B contains an incomplete comparison. Energy is cheaper than what? It also contains an error in parallel construction.

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

Choice E contains more cheaper, a nonstandard construction. Use cheaper.


32.   B   Although related to communications, the information contained in sentence 5 is not relevant to the discussion of modern communications satellites.


33.   A   Choice B is a sentence fragment.

Choice C contains the double negative hardly no.

Choice D improperly shifts to the second person.

Choice E is needlessly repetitious.


34.   B   Choices A, C, and D accurately describe neither the paragraph structure nor the point of the essay.

Choice E is a remote possibility but is not justified by evidence in the essay.


35.   E   Choice A unnecessarily repeats MRI and contains faulty parallelism.

Choice B is wordy, and it unnecessarily repeats MRI.

Choice C contains a dangling participle. The phrase that begins Taking pictures should modify doctors, not brains.

Choice D has no discernible connection with the previous sentence.



1.   A   B. Faulty comparison. Paying is compared to families, an illogical comparison.

C. Faulty comparison. Paying is compared to past, an illogical comparison.

D. Faulty comparison. Paying is compared to families, an illogical comparison.

E. Redundancy. The phrases used to be and in the past are redundant.


2.   D   A. Sentence fragment. Gwen Harper, the grammatical subject of the sentence, lacks a verb.

B. Sentence fragment. Gwen Harper, the grammatical subject of the sentence, lacks a verb.

C. Faulty coordination. The conjunction and fails to create a grammatical relation between the independent clause and the phrase with which the sentence begins.

E. The clause that begins three years in a row lacks a grammatical relationship with the rest of the sentence.


3.   B   A. Faulty coordination. The two coordinate clauses are not of equal importance. The second clause should be a subordinate clause.

C. Mismatched sentence parts. The word being has no grammatical relationship with the rest of the sentence.

D. Word choice. Which has no logical meaning. In the context whose would be a better choice.

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


4.   D   A. Faulty parallelism. High motivation is a noun phrase; significantly talented is an adjective phrase. Were these constructions in parallel grammatical form, the sentence would be more effective.

B. Redundancy. The word either and the phrase or else are redundant. Omit else.

C. Wordiness. The use of two successive subordinate clauses each beginning with who is wordy.

E. Faulty parallelism. The phrase high motivation consists of an adjective and a noun. The phrase significant amounts of talent consists of an adjective, a noun, and a prepositional phrase. Were these constructions in parallel grammatical form, the sentence would be more effective.


5.   A   B. Idiom. The construction is extremely awkward and is not in standard English.

C. Syntax error. The word there doesn’t refer to a specific place. Where is it that Sarah has not visited?

D. Incomplete construction. The place(s) that Sarah has not visited has been left out of the sentence.

E. Idiom. The construction fails to conform to standard English idiom.


6.   B   A. Shift in pronoun person. The sentence shifts from second to third person—from you to we.

C. Shift in pronoun number. The sentence shifts from plural to singular—from we to one.

D. Shift in pronoun person. The pronouns shift from second person (you) to the impersonal one.

E. Awkwardness. The construction our visiting is awkwardly worded.


7.   E   A. Faulty parallelism. Coordinate elements in a series should be parallel in form. Having Kelly Collins … is not parallel to the enthusiastic support….

B. Awkwardness. The having of the coordinating talent … is awkwardly expressed and is not standard English.

C. Faulty parallelism. Coordinate elements in a series should be parallel in form. Kelly Collins as our … is not parallel to the enthusiastic support ….

D. Mismatched sentence parts. The phrase To be coordinated … has no grammatical relation to the rest of the sentence.


8.   C   A. Redundancy. The construction introduced … for the first time is redundant.

B. Faulty pronoun reference. The pronoun they is meant to refer to public, but being in a prepositional phrase, public may not be the antecedent.

D. Tense shift. The sentence, cast in the past tense, shifts to the past perfect.

E. Dangling modifier. Because it wasn’t the public that introduced Beethoven’s music, the construction is illogical.


9.   B   A. Mismatched sentence parts. The first clause of the sentence is grammatically and logically unrelated to the second clause.

C. Idiom. The construction fails to use standard English.

D. Awkwardness. The construction is clumsily worded.

E. Pronoun reference. The pronoun he does not refer to a specific noun or other pronoun.


10.   B   A. Pronoun reference. The pronoun it lacks a specific referent.

C. Tense shift. The sentence, cast in the present tense (admire) shifts to the future tense (is to be).

D. Diction error. The word it’s is a contraction of it is. Nor would its be correct because it is a singular pronoun that fails to agree with its plural antecedent organizations.

E. Wordy. The construction is repetitious and long-winded.


11.   D   A. Pronoun–antecedent agreement. The pronoun their is plural; the antecedent person is singular. Use his or her.

B. Idiom error. In standard usage, nouns are defined by other nouns, not by clauses. Because meditation is a noun, is when is nonstandard.

C. Noun–verb agreement. Someone is singular; relax is plural.

E. Pronoun reference. The pronoun their doesn’t refer to any specific noun or pronoun.


12.   E   A. Comma splice. Commas may not be used to separate two independent clauses.

B. Pronoun reference. The pronoun it fails to refer to a specific noun or other pronoun.

C. Sentence fragment. Because the construction after the semicolon lacks a verb, it is not a complete sentence.

D. Pronoun–antecedent agreement. The pronoun its is singular; the antecedent lives is plural.


13.   D   A. Pronoun reference. The pronoun it fails to refer to a specific noun or pronoun.

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

C. Tense shift. The sentence, cast in the present tense, improperly shifts to the past tense.

E. Idiom. The construction is in nonstandard English.


14.   E   A. Faulty comparison. Other should be used when comparing one thing with a group of which it is a member. Use any other highway.

B. Misplaced modifier. The phrase that begins Of all the roads … should modify I–95, not travelers.

C. Diction error. Use amount to refer to mass quantities; use number to refer to anything that can be individually counted.

D. Faulty comparison. When comparing three or more things, use most instead of more.