PSAT Writing : Correcting Ambiguity and Redundancy Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Ambiguity And Redundancy Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

The dog that was hungry and looked ragged begged at the butcher’s shop for scraps.

Possible Answers:

The ragged-looking dog that was hungry

The hungry dog that looked ragged

The hungry, ragged-looking dog

Hungry and looking ragged, the dog

The dog that was hungry and looked ragged

Correct answer:

The hungry, ragged-looking dog

Explanation:

The original sentence can be simplified by making those modifying phrases adjectives: “hungry” and “ragged-looking.” The most concise way to rewrite this sentence is to make these both adjectives that come before the noun.

Example Question #303 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Inspired by storylines that would come to him in dreams, Lord Bennington would stage one-man plays, his audience enjoying the show. 

Possible Answers:

(No changes needed)

Inspired by storylines that would come to him in dreams, Lord Bennington would stage one man plays, his audiences enjoying the show. 

Inspired of storylines that would come to him in dreams, Lord Bennington would stage one-man plays, his audiences enjoyed the show. 

Inspired by storylines that would come to him in dreams, Lord Bennington would stage one-man plays; his audiences enjoying the show. 

Lord Bennington would stage one-man plays that were inspired by storylines from his dreams; his audiences would enjoy the shows.

Correct answer:

Lord Bennington would stage one-man plays that were inspired by storylines from his dreams; his audiences would enjoy the shows.

Explanation:

The original statement is grammatically incorrect because "audience" and "show" should be plural.  Also, "his audience enjoying the show" makes the sentence into a run-on.  The correct answer is concise and not awkward.  

Example Question #304 : Correcting Phrase, Clause, And Sentence Errors

Every person in the room appreciating the jokes by the performers.

Possible Answers:

Every person in the room appreciating the jokes from the performers.

Every person in the room appreciating the jokes by the performers.

Every person in the room has appreciating the jokes by the performers.

Every person in the room appreciated the jokes by the performers.

Every person in the room appreciating the jokes of the performers.

Correct answer:

Every person in the room appreciated the jokes by the performers.

Explanation:

The sentence as written is actually a fragment, as it does not contain a proper verb. The word "appreciating" in the sentence is a gerund, or a verb form that can function as anoun. The correct answer will use a full verb form, as "Every person in the room appreciated the jokes by the performers" does.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Ambiguity And Redundancy Errors

Religious texts often appear quite difficult to understand, being contradictions of themselves.

Possible Answers:

being contradictions of them.

contradicting themselves.

being contradictions of themselves.

contradicting them.

being contradicting them.

Correct answer:

contradicting themselves.

Explanation:

The underlined phrase in the sentence is awkwardly worded, which makes the sentence itself difficult to understand. The "religious texts" contain contradictions, a meaning not conveyed properly by the sentence. "Contradicting themselves" is the clearest, most appropriate choice among the answers.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Ambiguity And Redundancy Errors

All people choose their own religious denomination when they have been adults.

Possible Answers:

when adults they have been.

they have been adults.

when being adults.

when they have been adults.

when they are adults.

Correct answer:

when they are adults.

Explanation:

The underlined phrase is very awkwardly worded, and the use of the past perfect form "have been" is confusing. The phrase needs to be cleaned up for better clarity of meaning. "When they are adults" is the best choice among the answers.

Example Question #3 : Correcting Ambiguity And Redundancy Errors

Few people understand the sheer work involved in having written of a novel.

Possible Answers:

having writing of a novel.

having written novel.

writing having been done for a novel.

writing a novel.

having written of a novel.

Correct answer:

writing a novel.

Explanation:

The underlined phrase is awkwardly worded, and as such can lead to confusion. In order for the sentence to be improved, the words should be simplified and clarified. Making the final phrase of the sentence simply "writing a novel" is the best answer choice.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Ambiguity And Redundancy Errors

Select the answer that produces the most effective sentence, one that is clear and exact, without awkwardness or ambiguity.

The teacher reprimanded all the students after the final. She didn't realize only a few had cheated.

Possible Answers:

The teacher reprimanded all the students after the final, not realized

The teacher reprimanded all the students after the final. She didn't realize

Having reprimanded all the students after the final, the teacher didn't realize

The teacher reprimanded all the students after the final, she didn't realize

Although the teacher reprimanded all the students after the final, she hadn't realized

Correct answer:

The teacher reprimanded all the students after the final. She didn't realize

Explanation:

In this case, the original is the best choice. It separates independent clauses with a comma, and avoid the passive voice.

Example Question #5 : Correcting Ambiguity And Redundancy Errors

Select the answer that produces the most effective sentence, one that is clear and exact, without awkwardness or ambiguity.

The artist depicted the responses of farmers to industrialization: this was a perspective rarely seen at the time.

Possible Answers:

industrialization: this was a perspective rarely seen at the time.

industrialization: this being a perspective, at the time, rarely seen.

industrialization. This was a perspective rarely seen, at the time.

industrialization, at the time, a perspective rarely seen.

industrialization, a perspective having been rarely seen, at the time.

Correct answer:

industrialization: this was a perspective rarely seen at the time.

Explanation:

Here the original sentence is the best option: it is simple and uses correct punctuation.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Ambiguity And Redundancy Errors

Although only given serious attention in recent decades, the author had a devoted fanbase  in the time of his own.

Possible Answers:

in the time of his own.

in the own time.

in the time that was his own.

in the time being his own.

in his own time.

Correct answer:

in his own time.

Explanation:

The underlined portion of the sentence is grammatically correct, but very awkwardly worded. It can be both cleaner and more sensible by being simplified. The best, most simplified, answer choice is "in his own time."

Example Question #7 : Correcting Ambiguity And Redundancy Errors

Having to have been what is like a chameleon, the spy could take on many different personas.

Possible Answers:

Having to had been like a chameleon

Having to be like a chameleon

Had been what like a chameleon

Having to have been what is like a chameleon

To have been having what is like a chameleon

Correct answer:

Having to be like a chameleon

Explanation:

The underlined portion of the sentence is extremely wordy and confusing. The best way to improve the sentence is to simplify the phrase while retaining its original intended meaning. The answer choice that best does this is "Having to be like a chameleon."

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