New SAT Writing and Language : Author's Intent

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Author's Intent

One of the most influential niche constructors is the earthworm, an organism found almost everywhere on the planet.  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 is better mixed than land without them – 1 leading to monumental changes in the ecosystem.

Niche constructors are particularly important in colonizing new environments. One of the easiest ways to measure this effect on evolution has been in the effect that the number of earthworms has on soil fertility, a measure of how hospitable an environment is to plant growth. Even the least fertile soil has around 62 worms per square meter, and as the number of worms increases so does soil fertility. As worms move through the different layers of soil, they eat, digest, and excrete massive amounts of organic matter. They leave their excretions behind in the form of nutrient-rich droppings known as casings. As these casings decompose, they release nutrients into the soil. This process not only moves nutrients from one layer of the soil to another but also converts the nutrients to forms that plants can absorb and process more easily. Because it is easier for plants to get the proper nutrients, plants don’t have to invest time and energy into making better root systems to gather nutrients. As a result, plants have, over time, lost some of these mechanisms – a form of evolution. 

 

Which of the following best supports the point developed in this paragraph?

 

Possible Answers:

resulting in a moist environment in which the worms can thrive.

all from a tiny organism not much larger than a human hand.

NO CHANGE

all of which make the environment more suitable for plants.

Correct answer:

resulting in a moist environment in which the worms can thrive.

Explanation:

In order to conclude which choice best concludes the paragraph, you need to understand the overall context of the paragraph. The paragraph is all about how and why the worms change their environment in order to survive. The only choice that talks about why earthworms change the environment is "resulting in a moist environment in which the worms can thrive." As it is in the text is too vague since it's already been established that the worms change their environments. Choice "all of which make the environment more suitable for plants." is more in line with the next paragraph, which discusses the effect of earthworm engineering on plants. And choice "all from a tiny organism not much larger than a human hand.", while catchy, does not address anything that is discussed in the paragraph.

Example Question #2 : Author's Intent

The public’s perception of archaeologists has, for years, been colored by depictions of the profession in movie franchises like Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, and The Mummy. However popular these movies are, they– like movies that depict any other profession – don’t necessarily reflect what archaeologists actually do. While fighting supernatural forces and foiling nefarious plans does make for a better movie, 1 archaeologists are interesting people.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

movies don’t reflect what archaeologists actually do

box office numbers don’t always reflect this fact

the primary work of archaeology is in research and preservation

Correct answer:

the primary work of archaeology is in research and preservation

Explanation:

Whenever you are asked to complete a sentence without instruction as to what the test is looking for, you want to look for logic and for concision. The paragraph discusses the fact that movies don't necessarily reflect the job of real archaeologists. That implies that the contrast in this sentence should be between what archaeologists actually do and what they do in the movies. Since what they do in the movies is already addressed, the correct answer will reflect real- life archaeology. The only answer that does this is "the primary work of archaeology is in research and preservation", which gives an example of what archaeologists do. NO CHANGE and "box office numbers don’t always reflect this fact" don't address real-life archaeology and choice "movies don’t reflect what archaeologists actually do" is just a repetition of a phrase from earlier in the paragraph.

Example Question #3 : Author's Intent

One of the most influential niche constructors is the earthworm, an organism found almost everywhere on the planet.  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 is better mixed than land without them –  resulting in a moist environment in which the worms can thrive.

1 Niche constructors are particularly important in colonizing new environments. One of the easiest ways to measure this effect on evolution has been in the effect that the number of earthworms has on soil fertility, a measure of how hospitable an environment is to plant growth. Even the least fertile soil has around 62 worms per square meter, and as the number of worms increases so does soil fertility. As worms move through the different layers of soil, they eat, digest, and excrete massive amounts of organic matter. They leave their excretions behind in the form of nutrient-rich droppings known as casings. As these casings decompose, they release nutrients into the soil. This process not only moves nutrients from one layer of the soil to another but also converts the nutrients to forms that plants can absorb and process more easily. Because it is easier for plants to get the proper nutrients, plants don’t have to invest time and energy into making better root systems to gather nutrients. As result, plants have, over time, lost some of these  mechanisms – a form of evolution. 

Which of the following provides the most effective transition from the previous paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Earthworms’ most important role is to make soil more hospitable to plants, microbes, and other animals that might not otherwise do well in an arid environment.

To be considered true niche constructors, however, earthworms must change the environment in such a way as to alter the evolution of another species.

NO CHANGE

Earthworms aren’t alone in their capacity as niche constructors: beavers do the same.

Correct answer:

To be considered true niche constructors, however, earthworms must change the environment in such a way as to alter the evolution of another species.

Explanation:

In order to provide an effective transition between the two paragraphs, you need to know what the previous paragraph was about and what the current paragraph is about. The previous paragraph discusses one of the factors that allow earthworms to be considered niche creators - that they significantly change their environment. The current paragraph discusses another - that they must affect the evolution of another organism. As it is in the passage (NO CHANGE) and "Earthworms aren’t alone in their capacity as niche constructors: beavers do the same." and can both be quickly eliminated because they don't address either of these challenges. Between choice "To be considered true niche constructors, however, earthworms must change the environment in such a way as to alter the evolution of another species." and Earthworms’ most important role is to make soil more hospitable to plants, microbes, and other animals that might not otherwise do well in an arid environment", the former at first seems insufficient because it doesn't clearly address the previous paragraph. However, note that it does call back to the previous paragraph by saying that earthworms need to do one more thing before they are real niche creators. "Earthworms’ most important role is to make soil more hospitable to plants, microbes, and other animals that might not otherwise do well in an arid environment." only continues to discuss how they change the environment with no mention of the main idea of the paragraph to come.

Example Question #4 : Author's Intent

The pair brought scientific thinking and equipment to the kitchen, challenging perceptions about what belonged in the lab and what belonged in a chef ’s kitchen. For example, an early experiment in pie baking involved injecting pies with a syringe full of liquid after baking in order to preserve the crust. Other experiments involved creating meringue (cooked whipped egg whites with sugar) in a vacuum chamber and a “reverse” baked Alaska (ice cream topped with meringue) with the hot merengue on the inside and the ice cream on the outside. Although the experiments themselves might not have been useful to the home cook, 1 they were interesting for scientists.

 

Which choice most logically completes the sentence?

Possible Answers:

they did give insights into the science of cooking that improved recipes and techniques for cooks everywhere.

NO CHANGE

there were other experiments soon to follow.

they did answer many questions that This and Herve had about cooking.

Correct answer:

they did give insights into the science of cooking that improved recipes and techniques for cooks everywhere.

Explanation:

Whenever the SAT asks you to logically complete a sentence or thought, you are often going to need to complete a comparison or a contrast set up earlier in the sentence. In this case, the word "although" indicates that you need to have a phrase that contrasts with the idea that the experiments weren't useful to home chefs. If we leave the sentence as is, it may be true, but it isn't that comparison."They did give insights into the science of cooking that improved recipes and techniques for cooks everywhere." does set up that comparison, since the outcomes of the experiments were useful to home chefs even if the experiments themselves were not. This is correct. "They did answer many questions that This and Herve had about cooking." and "there were other experiments soon to follow." can be eliminated because they don't complete the comparison.

Example Question #5 : Author's Intent

Since 1988, the mission of molecular gastronomy has shifted. Kurti and This originally sought to investigate “kitchen old wives’ tales,” invent new recipes, improve old ones, and make the case to the public that science was a useful part of everyday life. Even if their experiments weren’t intended to be replicated in home kitchens, they were intended to encourage home cooks to experiment. Today, molecular gastronomists seek to explore the social, artistic, and technical aspects of food preparation. Some have argued that this shift in focus, along with the fact that techniques in molecular gastronomy have so far surpassed what any home cook could do, means that molecular gastronomy has lost 1 the ability to impact homemade food.

Possible Answers:

its ability to impact how the world’s domestic cooks cook at home.

its ability to impact how the world cooks at home.

its ability to impact and influence how the world cooks at home.

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

its ability to impact how the world cooks at home.

Explanation:

For this question, you are looking for an answer choice that gets rid of redundancy within the sentence and that maintains a logical meaning within the sentence. Choices "its ability to impact and influence how the world cooks at home." and "its ability to impact how the world’s domestic cooks cook at home." can both be eliminated because they contain redundant structures ("impact and influence" and "domestic... at home", respectively). NO CHANGE isn't logical. The field of molecular gastronomy doesn't affect homemade food. It affects how people cook. Choice "its ability to impact how the world cooks at home." correctly shows that molecular gastronomy affects the process of cooking and is not redundant.

Example Question #1 : Author's Intent

This excerpt is adapted from Kara Flanagan, “An Introduction to Linguistics.”

Linguists may specialize in any number of elements of language. While some examine morphology, the composition of individual words, others may study syntax, the structure of entire sentences. Those who study semantics or pragmatics, on the other hand, focus on the meanings of individual words, and how they might change depending on the context. Some linguists, known as phonologists, instead turn their attention to the speech sounds which make up spoken languages. Altogether, linguists have been responsible for the preservation of thousands of endangered languages.

Which choice provides the most effective conclusion for the paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Many linguists never learn to speak the languages they choose to study.

Hardly a monolith, linguists work within an array of subfields nearly as diverse as the languages they study.

NO CHANGE

Linguists sometimes live for months or years among the populations whose languages they study.

Correct answer:

Hardly a monolith, linguists work within an array of subfields nearly as diverse as the languages they study.

Explanation:

When asked to choose which sentence presents the best conclusion, focus on the preceding information to understand what the remainder of the paragraph has discussed. The paragraph begins by suggesting that there are numerous “elements of language” to which linguists turn their attention, and goes on to name and define several of them, including morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and phonology. The present choice, which focuses on the “preservation” of “endangered languages,” has no connection to the remainder of the paragraph. The choice of mentioning the “populations” studies by linguists also makes a leap from the subjects discussed to groups that have yet to be mentioned. The choice which suggests that linguists might “never learn to speak” their studied languages, even if it may be true, doesn’t present an effective or relevant conclusion. However, the choice which mentions an “array of subfields” within linguistics accurately reflects the substance of the preceding paragraph while also drawing an effective comparison between these “subfields” and languages themselves.

Example Question #192 : New Sat Writing And Language

This excerpt is adapted from Kirk Powell, Studies in Sports.

In her study, L’Tainen wanted to focus primarily on those sports observers who had a strong understanding of the game, but had never seriously played it. “It’s often claimed that watching someone else perform a complex task can be as useful as practicing it ourselves,” L’Tainen wrote. “Here, I wanted to put that claim to the test.” L’Tainen assembled her group of sports fanatics from her own city, Philadelphia, through a series of online listings. Philadelphia has more than a dozen professional sports teams, including two baseball teams. Once she brought all the subjects to one place, the real fun could begin.

Which choice provides the most relevant detail?

Possible Answers:

She was careful to use language that specified the sort of person she was seeking: someone who loved watching sports, but had little experience playing them.

She herself was a passionate softball player, having played since high school.

NO CHANGE

L’Tainen had grown up in the suburbs, but moved to the city when she started college.

Correct answer:

She was careful to use language that specified the sort of person she was seeking: someone who loved watching sports, but had little experience playing them.

Explanation:

When asked to select the most relevant detail, examine the surrounding information to understand which choice fits best in the particular context. Here, the sentence in question is preceded by a description of L’Tainen’s research objective, and the beginning of an explanation of her methodology for finding subjects. The sentence is followed by another mention of those subjects. It makes little sense to focus on L’Tainen’s personal life here, so the choice discussing her upbringing “in the suburbs” is altogether irrelevant, and even the choice which focuses on L’Tainen’s own experience as a “passionate softball player” distracts from the discussion of the experimental design. Similarly, a detail about Philadelphia’s “professional sports teams,” though related to the city in which the experiment is being conducted, has no connection to her approach to assembling subjects. Only the choice which expands upon her experimental methodology, discussing the listings and the “sort of person she was seeking,” expands upon the design of the experiment in a relevant manner.

Example Question #1 : Author's Intent

This excerpt is adapted from Rachel Kaplan, “A Day in the Life of Lennon—McCartney”.

The Beatles are often regarded by historians, critics, and listeners as one of the best recording groups of all time. Formed in Liverpool, England in 1960, they wrote and recorded some of the most popular songs of the twentieth century and ushered in a new age of innovation within Western popular music. At the creative heart of the group were John Lennon and Paul McCartney, together comprising the songwriting partnership “Lennon—McCartney,” whose songs made up the vast majority of the Beatles’ catalog. Interestingly, even when one of the two composers worked alone, the final product bore both of their names—the result of a handshake agreement the two had made at the start of their collaboration. Accordingly, hits like “Yesterday” and “I Am the Walrus,” written independently by Paul and John, respectively, are nonetheless credited jointly to Lennon—McCartney.

Which choice provides the most relevant detail?

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

The two often worked late into the night, completing six or seven songs in a single batch and scrapping all but the best one.

Their producer, George Martin, often helped them in the final stages of the writing process, making suggestions for instrumentation or special effects.

Their collaboration was not the only creative force within the group, however, as members George Harrison and Ringo Starr eventually contributed their own songs.

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

When asked to select the most relevant detail, examine the surrounding information to understand which choice fits best in a particular context. Here, the sentence in question is preceded by a brief introduction to the Beatles and a mention of its central creative force, the Lennon—McCartney writing team. It is followed by a sentence that gives examples of Beatles songs written independently by Paul and John and explains that both writers still received credit for the compositions. The choice which mentions the Beatles’ producer “George Martin” and his implementation of “instrumentation or special effects” interrupts a discussion of the specific partnership being discussed. Similarly, the choice which discusses the contributions of “George Harrison and Ringo Starr” blurs the discussion of Paul and John. The choice describing their method of writing “six or seven songs” is more relevant, but doesn’t help to explain the unusual crediting described in the next sentence. The existing sentence, however, which mentions a “handshake agreement” regarding their collaboration, remains on topic while also contextualizing the explanatory detail to follow, and is the best choice.

Example Question #193 : New Sat Writing And Language

This excerpt is adapted from Alan Gomez, The Pollution Solution.

Photosynthesis, despite popular conception, is not unique to plants, as it is performed by many microscopic organisms. Recent experimental evidence has shown that leafy plants, usually among the most effective photosynthesizers, perform the process much less efficiently when hindered by particle pollution. In one study, experimenters measured the oxygen output from dozens of identical plants placed in artificial environments with varying air quality and found that the relationship between particle pollution and photosynthetic inhibition was exponential—as particle count was increased steadily, oxygen output fell more and more steeply. With these results in mind, many environmental scientists believe that in some of the country’s most polluted cities, leafy plants may soon be completely unable to perform the photosynthetic processes necessary to sustain human life.

Which choice most effectively introduces the information which follows in the paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Some types of trees, known formally as conifers, maintain their green color and keep their leaves throughout all four seasons.

Particle pollution also has a detrimental impact on photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen.

NO CHANGE

There is a growing belief among climate scientists that the current rise in global temperatures may be an irreversible trend.

Correct answer:

Particle pollution also has a detrimental impact on photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen.

Explanation:

When asked to choose which sentence most effectively introduces a paragraph, examine the remainder of the paragraph to determine which choice aligns most closely with the information which follows. The body of the paragraph focuses on the relationship between particle pollution and photosynthesis, describes a study on leafy plants in different artificial environments, and speculates about the implications of the findings. The responses which focus on a “rise in global temperatures” and trees which “keep their leaves throughout all four seasons” are entirely irrelevant and can be discarded. The existing sentence, although it mentions photosynthesis, mentions that the process also occurs in microorganisms, an idea which is not expanded upon in the remainder of the paragraph. The choice which mentioned the “detrimental impact” of particle pollution on photosynthesis, however, effectively introduces an idea which is further explored in the sentences which follow.

Example Question #201 : New Sat Writing And Language

This excerpt is adapted from David Brent, “The Method: Stanislavski in Practice.”

Stanislavski was described as hackneyed and vapid by some of his harshest critics. Utilizing his extensive experience as a director and a performer, he developed the first formal curriculum for aspiring actors. His exercises equipped students with techniques to embody the internal and external characteristics of real and imagined people. In other words, Stanislavski taught his students how to bring characters to life.

Which choice most effectively introduces the information which follows in the paragraph?

Possible Answers:

Later in his life, Stanislavski devoted much of his time to education, which he believed essential to the future of his craft.

Stanislavski was known throughout Russia for his modern reimaginings of Shakespeare.

NO CHANGE

Amid global acclaim for his performances, Stanislavksi suffered from declining physical and mental health.

Correct answer:

Later in his life, Stanislavski devoted much of his time to education, which he believed essential to the future of his craft.

Explanation:

When asked to choose which sentence most effectively introduces a paragraph, examine the remainder of the paragraph to determine which choice aligns most closely with the information which follows. The body of the paragraph focuses on Stanislavski’s experience developing a curriculum for acting students, so responses which focus on his “reimaginings of Shakespeare,” the “hackneyed and vapid” state ascribed to him by his critics, or his “declining physical and mental health,” though they may be accurate, do not relate to the information contained in the rest of the paragraph. However, the choice which mentions “education” and Stanislavski’s belief that it was “essential to the future of his craft” effectively introduces the details to follow.

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