New SAT Writing and Language : Adding and Deleting Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for New SAT Writing and Language

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Adding & Deleting Sentences

One of the most influential niche constructors is the earthworm, an organism found almost everywhere on the planet. 1 A scientist only concerned with evolution would predict that, in order to live on land, earthworms would have to significantly change. Earthworms didn’t change their physiology a great  amount, however, instead, they changed the soil to make it more like the ocean in order to survive. Land with earthworms is less compacted, is more nutrient rich, and better mixed than land without them – leading to monumental changes in the ecosystem.

The author is considering adding the following sentence.

Earthworms were originally aquatic organisms that were ill-equipped to survive on land.

Should the author make this addition?

Possible Answers:
Yes, because it explains the prediction made in the next sentence.

No, because the author does not further address why this fact is important.

Yes, because it adds information about the roles of earthworms as niche creators.

No, because it distracts from the discussion on niche construction. 

Correct answer:
Yes, because it explains the prediction made in the next sentence.
Explanation:

Whenever the SAT gives you answer choices in the form of "yes/no because", you should turn your attention to the reasoning given for each answer choice since it's easier to determine whether the reason is correct than it is to determine whether or not the sentence should be included. "Yes, because it explains the prediction made in the next sentence." correctly states that the sentence explains why the prediction in the next sentence is there. "Yes, because it adds information about the roles of earthworms as niche creators." can be eliminated because the sentence does not explain the role of earthworms as niche creators. "No, because it distracts from the discussion on niche construction. " can be eliminated because it doesn't distract from the discussion of niche construction since it talks about why earthworms need to be niche constructors. "No, because the author does not further address why this fact is important." can be eliminated because the next sentence does explain why this fact is important.

Example Question #2 : Adding & Deleting Sentences

For thousands of years, cooking was considered more of a practice than a science. Much of what chefs and food scientists alike knew about cooking came from conventional wisdom rather than carefully designed research. For individuals who considered cooking to be an art rather than a science, this seemed to be for the best; however, for physicist Nicholas Kurti and chemist Herve This, the lack on empirical knowledge around what we eat was not just an affront to science. It was a challenge. In 1988 the pair coined the term “molecular gastronomy,” which they defined as the investigation of the physical and chemical transformation that ingredients undergo during the course of cooking. They argued that if chefs understood these processes, they could produce dishes improved by the findings. 1

At this point, the author is considering adding the following sentence.

"The pair’s philosophy came from the Enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century, who believed that everything could be categorized and systematized."

Should the author make this addition here?

Possible Answers:

Yes, because it reinforces a claim that is made earlier in the paragraph.

No, because it distracts from the paragraph’s focus on early experiments in molecular gastronomy.

No, because it is not relevant to the focus of the paragraph.

Yes, because it explains the origin of the phrase “molecular gastronomy”.

Correct answer:

No, because it is not relevant to the focus of the paragraph.

Explanation:

For questions with answers that lead with "Yes/Yes/No/No," it is often easier to look at the reasoning rather than at whether or not the sentence should be included since it is easier to eliminate answer choices based on reasoning that is incorrect rather than whether the sentence belongs. "Yes, because it explains the origin of the phrase “molecular gastronomy”." can be eliminated because the sentence does not explain the origin of the phrase "molecular gastronomy". "Yes, because it reinforces a claim that is made earlier in the paragraph." can be eliminated because it does not address a claim made earlier in the paragraph. "No, because it is not relevant to the focus of the paragraph." is true - this sentence is not relevant to the main focus of the paragraph. "No, because it distracts from the paragraph’s focus on early experiments in molecular gastronomy." can be eliminated because this paragraph does not discuss earlier experiments in molecular gastronomy.

Example Question #3 : Adding & Deleting Sentences

The Sagrada Familia has stood, incomplete, as part of the Barcelona skyline since the early phases of its construction in 1882. The project, originally intended to be a cathedral in the gothic style, was begun by the bookseller Joseph Maria Bocabella under the direction of the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. Del Villar and Bocabella imagined a basilica modeled on the Gothic revival churches Bocabella had seen on trips to Italy. However, Bocabella’s ideal basilica never came to be. In 1883 del Villar resigned from the project, and 30-year old Antoni Gaudi, a young but already well-known architect from Catalonia, took over as lead architect.

Gaudi decided to depart from del Villar’s original Gothic design in favor of a more modern design. The new design was ambitious, featuring eighteen tall spires and four different facades on different sides of the basilica. But work on the new building was slow. Decades passed, and the work was still incomplete. In 1915, Gaudi - now 63 years old - abandoned all other work in favor of dedicating himself to the completion of the monumental church, but progress on the building was still slow. When pressured to speed up work on the monumental building, Gaudi was said to have replied, “My client is not in a hurry.” By the time Gaudi died in 1926, the basilica was only somewhere between 15 and 20 percent complete. 

After Gaudi’s death, work stalled between 1936 and 1940 when Civil War broke out in Spain and again as World War II began, leaving the project years behind schedule. During the wars, Catalan anarchists destroyed part of the basilica and the models and designs Gaudi left for the builders, who were forced to reconstruct what plans they could, an arduous and time-consuming process. It took years for the project to get back on track; once it was, it was impossible to know whether additional construction would match Gaudi’s vision.

The Sagrada Familia, one of the most iconic structures in Barcelona, remains unfinished, a constant work-in-progress in the Barcelona skyline. Despite these setbacks, it is open to the public for both religious services and tourism, attracting over three million visitors a year. In fact, tourist entrance fees now pay for annual construction costs. 1

 

At this point, the author is considering adding the following sentence.

“Architects estimate that the building is now 70 percent complete and that the structure itself should be finished by 2026, one hundred years after Gaudi’s death."

Should the author make this addition here?

Possible Answers:

No, because it distracts from the paragraph’s emphasis on construction costs.

Yes, because it provides a conclusion that relates to the information given earlier in the passage.

No, because it is irrelevant to the main idea of the passage.

Yes, because it provides a conclusion that reminds readers of the grandeur of the Sagrada Familia.

Correct answer:

Yes, because it provides a conclusion that relates to the information given earlier in the passage.

Explanation:

One of the best ways to deal with questions that give you the options Yes/Yes/No/No in the answer choices is to ignore the "yes" or "no " question and instead focus on the information that comes after the comma. Determining whether the reasoning is solid is often easier than deciding whether or not a particular sentence should be included. "Yes, because it provides a conclusion that relates to the information given earlier in the passage."  correctly states that it provides a conclusion (it is the last sentence) that relates to information given in the passage (that the Sagrada Familia is still unfinished and has been behind schedule since the start). This is the correct answer.

Among the other answers, "yes, because it provides a conclusion that reminds readers of the grandeur of the Sagrada Familia" can be eliminated because there is nothing in this sentence that relates to the grandeur of the Sagrada Familia. "No, because it distracts from the paragraph’s emphasis on construction costs" can be eliminated because the paragraph doesn't talk about construction costs. And "no, because it is irrelevant to the main idea of the passage" can be eliminated because the sentence does relate to the main idea of the passage since it talks about the length of time needed to finish the project.

Example Question #1 : Adding And Deleting Sentences

The following is an excerpt of an article from Popular Science, initially published in 2017.

Since their inception, Rorschach inkblots—named after Hermann Rorschach, the Swiss psychoanalyst who invented them—have been known to confuse the visual cortex. We tend to see what we want to see in them. And although their use in psychology has been debunked (whether you see a butterfly or a dancing clown in an image is not a reliable indication of your mental state), why we see different things at all remains a puzzle.

The idea for the new study came about because physicist Richard Taylor is developing bionic eyes to cure blindness in people who have had diseases of the retina. [1]

To understand why Rorschach inkblots have this enigmatic effect, Taylor and his team at the University of Oregon took lots of blots and analyzed them to see if they were fractals. Fractals are patterns that repeat themselves across different scales.

 

At this point, the writer is considering adding the following sentence:

“In order to do that,” said Taylor, “we have to understand what normal vision is doing.”

Should the writer make this addition here?

Possible Answers:

No, because it is better used elsewhere in the passage.

Yes, because it helps answer why Rorschach blots look different to different people.

No, because it doesn’t relate to Rorschach blots.

Yes, because it provides context to how the study and bionic eyes are related.

Correct answer:

Yes, because it provides context to how the study and bionic eyes are related.

Explanation:

With “yes because ___” / “no because ___” questions, the SAT has provided us with an opportunity to eliminate on two different bases! Here, we want to determine whether the sentence in question should be added, but also understand contextually *why.* In this case, the addition would be valuable to its surrounding context, as it addresses how the study (what came before) relates to the concept of bionic eyes (the context immediately before). Both of our “no because ___” answers can be eliminated, as the addition absolutely makes sense in its context, and the option “Yes, because it helps answer why Rorschach blots look different to different people” doesn’t work because, while the study might provide some of the relevant context to this answer, the sentence in question does not. Thus, “Yes, because it provides context to how the study and bionic eyes are related” is the only viable answer choice, as it addresses the relevancy of the sentence before and the reference to the bionic eye to the rest of the passage excerpt and corresponding study.

Example Question #1 : Adding And Deleting Sentences

The following is an excerpt of the book Women and Women’s Work, initially published in 2012.

There is general agreement among today’s scientists that the scientific work of women has been historically undervalued. For example, Rosalind Franklin, a British physicist, was responsible for capturing the images that informed our modern understanding of the structures of DNA. [1] Her contributions were overshadowed by the work of James Watson and Francis Crick, who relied on her models in assembling their famous double-helix model, but neglected to provide her sufficient credit.

 

At this point, the writer is considering adding the following sentence:

DNA is a complex molecule composed of nucleotide base pairs which transmits genetic information within living cells.

Should the writer make this addition here?

Possible Answers:

Yes, because it reinforces the paragraph’s point about the complexity of DNA’s structure.

Yes, because it helps to explain why Watson and Crick neglected to credit Franklin for her images.

No, because it undermines the paragraph’s claim about Franklin’s contributions.

 

No, because it distracts from the paragraph’s point that women’s scientific work is undervalued.

Correct answer:

No, because it distracts from the paragraph’s point that women’s scientific work is undervalued.

Explanation:

With questions that ask about adding sentences, answers can be eliminated on two bases—incorrect decision, and incorrect reasoning. We need to decide whether the sentence should be added as well as why or why not. In this example, we can eliminate the “Yes” choice that mentions the “complexity of DNA’s structure,” as this is not the point of the paragraph. We can also eliminate the other “Yes” choice, as the molecular structure of DNA has no connection to why Watson and Crick didn’t credit Franklin. Similarly, the “No” choice which suggests the sentence “undermines the paragraph’s claim about Franklin’s contributions” is incorrect, as the details of DNA’s structure are unrelated to the claim about her work. The correct choice is “No, because it distracts from the paragraph’s point that women’s scientific work is undervalued,” as it correctly identifies the paragraph’s point and notes that the details in the sentence have little relevance to the paragraph as a whole.

Example Question #1 : Adding And Deleting Sentences

The following is an excerpt of an article from Energy & Environmental Science, initially published in 2015.

It wasn’t evident from Stecker’s investigations that “fracking”—shortened from hydraulic fracturing—was correlated with unusual seismic activity. “In assembling our data, we drew from seismometers in the vicinity of more than 400 fracking sites worldwide, including almost 200 in the United States,” Stecker said. [1] “We found no significant uptick in seismic activity near fracking sites, much to our surprise,” Stecker said. She also noted, however, that earthquakes aren’t the only potential danger of fracking. “There are claims about groundwater contamination and air pollution that have yet to be sufficiently investigated,” she warned.

 

At this point, the writer is considering adding the following sentence:

Seismometers are a tool used to measure large underground movements, like those caused by earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Should the writer make this addition here?

Possible Answers:

No, because it contradicts Stecker’s description of her data collection methods.

Yes, because it helps to explain a technical term used in the paragraph.

No, because it blurs the paragraph’s focus on the steps involved in fracking.

Yes, because it supports Stecker’s claim that fracturing often causes earthquakes.

Correct answer:

Yes, because it helps to explain a technical term used in the paragraph.

Explanation:

With questions that ask about adding sentences, answers can be eliminated on two bases—incorrect decision, and incorrect reasoning. We need to decide whether the sentence should be added as well as why or why not. In this example, we can eliminate the “No” choice which mentions the “steps involved in fracking,” as these aren’t mentioned at any point in the paragraph. We can also eliminate the remaining “No” answer, as an explanation of seismometers doesn’t contradict Stecker’s description of her data collection methods, which relied on seismometers. Furthermore, we can eliminate the “Yes” answer which posits that the description “supports Stecker’s claim that fracturing often causes earthquakes,” as this is the opposite of Stecker’s claim. The correct choice is “Yes, because it helps to explain a technical term used in the paragraph,” as it correctly states that the sentence defines the term “seismometer” with which readers might otherwise be unfamiliar.

Example Question #2 : Adding And Deleting Sentences

The following is an excerpt from the book J.D. Salinger: Beneath the Stories, initially published in 2006.

Salinger was responsible for, among other works, the collections Franny and Zooey and Nine Stories and the widely acclaimed novel The Catcher and the Rye. [1] Despite his notoriety during his lifetime, however, Salinger avoided contact with the outside world whenever possible. His retreat from the public eye began in 1951, soon after the publication of The Catcher in the Rye, and continued until his death in 2010. During those decades, he gave only a handful of interviews, including one published in 1971 usually described as his “last interview.”

 

At this point, the writer is considering adding the following sentence:

It features Holden Caulfield, a teenager who recounts the story of his expulsion from a Pennsylvania boarding school.

Should the writer make this addition here?

Possible Answers:

No, because it contradicts the parallels drawn between Salinger and his characters.

No, because it blurs the paragraph’s focus on Salinger’s reclusive nature.

Yes, because it provides details about Salinger’s own adolescence.

Yes, because it helps to illustrate the extent of Salinger’s fame.

Correct answer:

No, because it blurs the paragraph’s focus on Salinger’s reclusive nature.

Explanation:

With questions that ask about adding sentences, answers can be eliminated on two bases—incorrect decision, and incorrect reasoning. We need to decide whether the sentence should be added as well as why or why not. In this example, we can eliminate the “Yes” answer which mentions “details about Salinger’s own adolescence,” as the sentence describes a character Salinger created, not the author himself. We can also eliminate the remaining “Yes” answer, as a description of the premise of The Catcher in the Rye doesn’t help to show that Salinger was famous. We can also eliminate the “No” answer which mentions “parallels drawn between Salinger and his characters,” as such parallels are entirely absent from the paragraph. The correct choice is “No, because it blurs the paragraph’s focus on Salinger’s reclusive nature,” which correctly notes that details of The Catcher in the Rye are irrelevant to a paragraph which discusses Salinger’s personal life.

Example Question #2 : Adding And Deleting Sentences

The following is an excerpt of an article from American Theatre, initially published in 2012.

The modern musical, as enjoyed by millions of yearly theatregoers in New York, London, and across the world, has its foundations in the work of composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Their musical Oklahoma!, premiering on Broadway in 1943, is often cited as the first real entry in the “Golden Age” of musical theater. [1] Oklahoma! was celebrated by critics and audiences alike for its libretto, or “book,” which served to weave its songs together into a coherent story. The duo went on to write nearly a dozen more “book” musicals, most of which were critical and commercial successes.

 

At this point, the writer is considering adding the following sentence:

Previous musicals had typically featured many popular songs with little connection to one another.

Should the writer make this addition here?

Possible Answers:

No, because it undermines the paragraph’s claim that Rodgers and Hammerstein were the first duo to write a musical.

Yes, because it supports the paragraph’s claim that Rodgers and Hammerstein were overrated by contemporary critics.

No, because it blurs the paragraph’s focus on modern musicals.

Yes, because it helps to explain what made Oklahoma! different from previous shows.

Correct answer:

Yes, because it helps to explain what made Oklahoma! different from previous shows.

Explanation:

With questions that ask about adding sentences, answers can be eliminated on two bases—incorrect decision, and incorrect reasoning. We need to decide whether the sentence should be added as well as why or why not. In this example, the “No” choice which mentions “modern musicals” can be eliminated, as they are by no means the paragraph’s focus, even if they are mentioned in the introductory sentence. The remaining “No” choice, which describes the writers as the “first duo to write a musical,” is also incorrect, as this is not a claim made elsewhere in the paragraph. The “Yes” answer which mentions that the writers were “overrated” has, similarly, no basis in textual evidence, as the writers are described as being critically successful, but there is no suggestion that this praise was unearned. Accordingly, the remaining “Yes” answer, which claims that the sentence shows what makes Oklahoma! unique, is accurate, as the sentence explains what musicals were like before Oklahoma!’s innovations.

Example Question #5 : Adding And Deleting Sentences

The following is an excerpt from the book Psychology Explained: Breaking Down the Brain, initially published in 2009.

Confirmation bias is the tendency by which people interpret new information in a way that supports previously held beliefs. Psychologists have examined the phenomenon in a wide variety of contexts. [1] In one experiment, researchers presented subjects with self-described “strong” or “very strong” political beliefs with a series of claims about a particularly contentious politician. Half of the claims were positive, supporting the politician, while half were negative, condemning the politician. Later, when quizzed about the claims they had heard, subjects were far better at recalling those claims which aligned with their existing opinion on the politician, while they were seldom able to recall the others.

 

At this point, the writer is considering adding the following sentence:

Confirmation bias is believed to arise at or near adolescence, although it has not been rigorously studied in children.

Should the writer make this addition here?

Possible Answers:

No, because it provides a detail which is unrelated to the example which follows.

No, because it blurs the paragraph’s focus on methods to counteract confirmation bias.

Yes, because it helps to explain why psychologists are interested in confirmation bias.

Yes, because it supports the paragraph’s claim that confirmation bias cannot be studied in an experimental setting.

Correct answer:

No, because it provides a detail which is unrelated to the example which follows.

Explanation:

With questions that ask about adding sentences, answers can be eliminated on two bases—incorrect decision, and incorrect reasoning. We need to decide whether the sentence should be added as well as why or why not. In this example, the “Yes” choice which states that “confirmation bias cannot be studied in an experimental setting” can be eliminated, as the example which follows provides an explicit experimental demonstration of the phenomenon. The remaining “Yes” choice can also be eliminated, as the sentence makes a claim about the ages at which the phenomenon arises, but there is no discussion of why this might make it interesting to psychologists. The “No” choice which mentions “methods to counteract confirmation bias” mischaracterizes the paragraph, which provides an example of a study on the phenomenon, but does not make any suggestions about means to counteract it. The remaining “No” choice, however, is correct, as the detail provided in the sentence is, indeed, irrelevant to the discussion which follows, wherein age is never mentioned.

Example Question #3 : Adding And Deleting Sentences

Evolutionary biologists have long believed that Canis lupus familiaris, the modern dog, is a direct evolutionary descendant of Canis lupus, the gray wolf. Recent developments in genomic sequencing have helped substantiate this belief, as the genetic differences which distinguish dogs from wolves can now be catalogued and studied at the smallest possible scale. [1] Data extrapolated from genomic sequencing now suggests that dogs were domesticated approximately 15,000 years ago.

 

At this point, the writer is considering adding the following sentence:

Archaeological evidence has long indicated that dogs, as we know them today, have existed for at least 14,000 years.

Should the writer make this addition here?

Possible Answers:

Yes, because it explains why humans were not involved in the domestication of wolves.

Yes, because it provides a further example of how existing beliefs about dogs have been supported by genomic sequencing.

No, because it undermines the paragraph’s claim that dogs have negligible genetic differences from wolves.

No, because it blurs the paragraph’s focus on the steps involved in genomic sequencing.

Correct answer:

Yes, because it provides a further example of how existing beliefs about dogs have been supported by genomic sequencing.

Explanation:

With questions that ask about adding sentences, answers can be eliminated on two bases—incorrect decision, and incorrect reasoning. We need to decide whether the sentence should be added as well as why or why not. In this example, the “No” choice which mentions the “steps involved in genomic sequencing” is incorrect, as discussion of the details of the process is entirely absent from the paragraph. The remaining “No” answer, which alludes to a claim that dogs and wolves have “negligible genetic differences,” has no basis in evidence, as the paragraph mentions that these differences exist, but does not suggest that they are negligible. The “Yes” choice which mentions an explanation for why “humans were not involved in the domestication of wolves” can also be thrown out, as the information presented in the sentence has no connection to this claim, and the paragraph makes no mention of domestication. Accordingly, the “Yes” choice with which we’re left is correct, as it correctly identifies how the detail of “archaeological evidence” connects to the claim about genomic sequencing data which follows.

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