SAT Writing : Revising Word Choice, Style, and Tone in a Sentence Fragment

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #135 : Improving And Correcting Sentences

Although a work of fiction, Mariama Bâ's 1979 novel, So Long a Letter is also, in a sense, a manifesto of the female African experience, one that has all too often been consigned to a footnote in history books. Within the overarching colonial narrative of African marginalization, black women have been marginalized farther. In their respective accounts, Jomo Kenyatta and Franz Fanon put their own words in the mouths of female subjects: in more objective histories, women are hardly spoken of at all. By taking a comparative approach, however, the history of African women in the colonial and post-colonial eras can be patched together into something comprehensible. With Bâ’s voice as a guide, a more complex narrative comes out of the darkness of historical silence and bias to revealing significant degrees of female agency and expression.

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

Possible Answers:

marginalized further

marginalized farther

marginalized fewer

marginalized less

marginalized, farther

Correct answer:

marginalized further

Explanation:

“Farther” refers to measurable distances, whereas “further” is used figuratively. In this case, the marginalization described is being taken further, not farther, because it is becoming more intense or extreme. The inclusion of a comma is unnecessary, which rules out “marginalized, farther.” “Marginalized fewer” and “marginalized less” both contradict the meaning of the original phrase. “Marginalized further,” then, is the correct answer.

Example Question #136 : Improving And Correcting Sentences

 [1] The Magna Carta was a charter issued in 1215 that limited a king’s power and said that no one, even a king, was above the law. [2] Before it was passed, the English people were upset that King John was ignoring their complaints. [3] They threatened King John and he agreed to sign the Magna Carta, limiting his powers and giving more to the lords. [4] The Magna Carta exemplified the political values of limited government and rule of law. [5] In fact, Magna Carta is Latin for "The Great Charter." [6] The Magna Carta affected the American political system because America ended up taking on those same values. [7] In America, the president can’t do whatever he or she wants; he or she has to work with Congress. [8] In addition, the president, like the king of England, is not above the law. [9] For example, if the president speeds then he or she will get a ticket, just like anyone else who speeds. [10] The Magna Carta could be the earliest influence on the American political system and the Constitution.

Replace the bolded and underlined portion with the answer choice that is consistent with the formal tone of the passage while retaining the meaning of the original sentence. 

Possible Answers:

can't do anything that he or she wants to

can't do whatever he or she wants

can make decisions unilaterally

can't make decisions unilaterally 

can do whatever he or she wants

Correct answer:

can't make decisions unilaterally 

Explanation:

The answer is "can't make decisions unilaterally" because saying "whatever he or she wants" or "anything he or she wants" would be too casual for a formal paragraph. The reason why it is "can't make decisions unilaterally" instead of "can make decisions unilaterally" is because doing something unilaterally means to do something on one's own and the president cannot make decisions on his or her own. 

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