SAT Writing : Revising a Single Word to Avoid Ambiguity and Redundancy

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Revising A Single Word To Avoid Ambiguity And Redundancy

1 It may be hard to believe. 2 But light was once a rare and inviolate commodity. 3 Our ancestors invented willful ways to harness natural light; burning lumps of tallow or animal fat, capturing fireflies in glass jars, and even threading wicks down the throats of a bird called the storm petrel.4 Most of these methods were messy, inconvenient, and costly. 5 So it was fortunate when kerosene became popular. 6 Whale oil was another way to get light, but whaling was a dangerous and deadly occupation. 7 The innovation of the electric light bulb represented another huge leap in convenience and cost-effectiveness. 8 While light is not scarce today; in fact, we often have the opposite problem. 9 Light pollution, or excessive artificial light, which can keep city denizens from ever seeing the stars or appreciating true darkness.

In Sentence 7, what word should replace “innovation”?

Possible Answers:


innovation (no change)




Correct answer:



Although the invention of the light bulb was an innovation, it is awkward and imprecise to say the “innovation of the light bulb.” Firstly, “innovation” is typically not used in that grammatical construction; secondly, it’s unclear in the original wording whether the light bulb had an innovation or a person had an innovation that led to the creation of the ligh tbulb. “Invention of the light bulb” is a superior phrasing. None of the other answer choices would make sense in context.

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