New SAT Writing and Language : Rhetoric: Words and Phrases

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

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Diction

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 1 big architect from Catalonia, took over as lead architect.

Possible Answers:

well-known

big name

splashy

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

well-known

Explanation:

Whenever the SAT asks you to differentiate between four synonyms or near synonyms on the Writing and Language section, it is either testing formality (whether the word choice matches the tone of the rest of the passage) or meaning (whether you recognize which of several closely related words to use). In this case, it is testing formality. Good writing has a consistent tone and is appropriate to the audience it is being presented to. This essay is about the history of a famous architectural site and has a formal tone. To fit with that, you need to have an equally formal word in this sentence. The only word that fits the tone of the passage is, well-known. The other three answer choices vary from informal ("big name") to vague ("big") and can be eliminated.

Example Question #2 : Diction

The pair brought scientific thinking and equipment to the kitchen, challenging perceptions about what belonged in the lab and 1 whether it 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, they did give insights into the science of cooking that improved recipes and techniques for cooks everywhere.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

whether it belonged in a chef’s kitchen?

what belonged in a chef’s kitchen.

what belonged in a chef’s kitchen?

Correct answer:

what belonged in a chef’s kitchen.

Explanation:

There are two major decision points in this question: whether to use "whether" or "what" and whether to use a period or a question mark. Because this sentence contains a list of two items, those two items must be parallel. And since the first item in the list is "what belonged in the lab," the second item in the list should also start with the word "what" rather than "whether". Eliminate "NO CHANGE" and "whether it belonged in a chef’s kitchen?". Because this is a statement, the sentence should end with a period rather than a question mark even though it contains the word "what". Eliminate "what belonged in a chef’s kitchen?" and choose "what belonged in a chef’s kitchen."

Example Question #163 : New Sat Writing And Language

Despite this criticism, the belief in experimentation lives on outside the world of molecular gastronomy. Cooking magazines and websites now often have what are called “test kitchens” – departments dedicated not only to testing new recipes but also to improving techniques and testing uses for kitchen implements themselves. These test kitchens have taken the 1 resolve of experimentation from Kurti and This’s early work and have applied it to everything from the best way to make fried chicken to the ideal temperature at which to bake chocolate chip cookies. While these experiments might not involve lab equipment, they have fulfilled one of Kurti and This’s early dreams: they show the importance of scientific thinking outside of the halls of science.

Possible Answers:

mood

spirit

NO CHANGE

influence

Correct answer:

spirit

Explanation:

When the SAT asks you to choose between similar words with the same meaning in some contexts but different meanings in others, they are testing your ability to choose the appropriate word for the situation. Look to see which answer choice works thematically with the sentence. All will probably be grammatically correct, so focus on meaning. Only "spirit" logically works - the sentence is discussing whether the idea behind molecular gastronomy moves on, an idea captured by the word "spirit." Choice "resolve" can be eliminated because resolve indicates a decision, which doesn't make sense in this context. Similarly, influence and mood can be eliminated because influence indicates that Kurti and This were influenced, not that they influenced others and because mood isn't a logical modifier in the context of the sentence.

Example Question #164 : New Sat Writing And Language

Without earthworms, modern land-based ecosystems would look very different. There is no way to predict the exact changes that would exist without earthworms, but it is easy to recognize earthworms’ 1 impression. As research continues into the effect of earthworms, scientists are confident that it will show an even more complex picture of the earthworm’s contribution to the land-based ecosystem.

Possible Answers:

collision

transformation

NO CHANGE

impact

Correct answer:

impact

Explanation:

Whenever the SAT asks you to choose between four words that have nearly the same meaning, they are testing logic. While the words do have similar meanings, only one makes sense in the context of the passage. As with a reading section vocabulary in context questions, look at the sentence as a whole. It's talking about the effect that earthworms have on the environment. While the answer choices are similar in meaning, the only answer choice that fits this is "impact".

Example Question #165 : New Sat Writing And Language

The traditional view of archaeologists usually involves a college professor who spends much of his or her time digging and researching in ancient foreign libraries or a museum curator who works every day to preserve the artifacts the museum holds. While this view isn’t completely incorrect, it is incomplete, both in terms of the types of jobs available to archaeologists and in terms of the types of work within those jobs. For example, college professors may spend summers at dig sites, but much of their time is also spent writing grants, teaching students, and writing about their research projects. Additionally, although there are still many people who work in archaeology as professors and museum curators, the demand for these job far outstrips the number of positions available, making the positions 1 a pain to acquire.

Which of the following best fits the tone of the rest of the passage?

Possible Answers:

difficult

awkward

NO CHANGE  

super tough

Correct answer:

difficult

Explanation:

The key to succeeding on this question is remembering that the SAT tests not only grammar and logic, but also consistent style. This question gives you a selection of synonyms (or near synonyms) and then asks you to choose the one that best fits the tone of the rest of the passage. Since only one, "difficult," is an acceptable choice for formal writing, it is the correct answer. The other three answers are either colloquially used or inappropriate for the sentence.

Example Question #1 : Diction

An extract of the plant Decalepis hamiltonii, which has proved helpful in protecting brain cells from damaging effects of alcohol, is grown across India, where it has been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

The Decalepis hamiltonii plant, an extract of which

An extract, which

A Decalepis hamiltonii extract, which

Correct answer:

The Decalepis hamiltonii plant, an extract of which

Explanation:

In this example, we’re being tested on the logical vs. illogical word choice for the subject of our sentence. Since the non-underlined portion of the sentence includes the verb “is grown,” the subject of the sentence must be something that can be grown. If we read past the modifier in the original construction, we can see that “an extract” is the subject of the sentence, making the meaning of the core of the sentence, “an extract is grown,” illogical. Only our correct answer, “The Decalepis hamiltonii plant, an extract of which” corrects this error by reconstructing the underlined portion such that “the decalepis hamiltonii plant” is the subject of the sentence taking on the verb phrase “is grown.”

Example Question #4 : Diction

The Chinese language is known for it’s diversity, as there are over 200 documented dialects of the language.

Possible Answers:

NO CHANGE

its diversity, as they’re

its diversity, as there

it’s diversity, as their

Correct answer:

its diversity, as there

Explanation:

In this example, we need to choose the wording that expresses a logical meaning. In the original construction, “it’s” - the contraction for “it is” is illogical, as the sentence is attempting to use the possessive to refer to the diversity of the Chinese language. “It’s diversity, as their” makes the same mistake, and also mistakenly uses the possessive “their” when the term “there” is the appropriate spelling for the meaning the sentence is attempting to convey. Since “they’re” - the contraction for “they are” is also illogical in the context, we can eliminate “its diversity, as they’re.” This leaves us with the correct answer, “its diversity, as there,” the only option that uses the appropriate version of each homophone (term that sounds the same but carries a different meaning when spelled differently).

Example Question #3 : Diction

Though the current line of common contemporary fashion is often perceived as a recent trend, it’s roots date back to early Egypt.

Possible Answers:

it’s roots dates

NO CHANGE

its roots date

its roots dates

Correct answer:

its roots date

Explanation:

In this example, we need to choose the wording that expresses a logical meaning. The original sentence construction illogically utilizes the contraction “it’s.” Since it would not make sense to say “it is roots date back,” this word choice is illogical, and we can eliminate any answer options that include this wording. Our final incorrect answer, “Its roots dates” lacks agreement, as the plural “roots” requires the plural verb “date.” Our correct answer, “Its roots date” corrects both of these errors by utilizing the possessive pronoun and the plural form of the verb.

Example Question #5 : Diction

Excessive caffeine consumption has been scientifically shown to effect your nervous system in both positive and negative respects, providing mood-boosting stimulant reactions, but also creating dependency and withdrawal when consumed in excess over extended periods.

Possible Answers:

affect you’re

effect you’re

NO CHANGE

affect your

Correct answer:

affect your

Explanation:

In this example, we’re being tested on the use of different forms of homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings when spelled differently). If we look to our answer options, we can see that we’ll need to determine which form of affect vs. effect and which form of your vs. you’re we need. Since, in context, affect is being used as a verb rather than a noun, we need the term “affect.” Additionally, we need the possessive “your” to refer to the nervous system belonging to you (the possessive form). Our correct answer, “affect your” makes both of these corrections.

Example Question #171 : New Sat Writing And Language

Whereas most casualties in 19th-century wars resulted from disease, over two-thirds of the troops in World War I resulted from direct combat on the battlefield.

Possible Answers:

troops killed

NO CHANGE

casualties

killed troops

Correct answer:

casualties

Explanation:

This question primarily tests us on diction, essentially, using the correct word in context. Here, not only do we need the comparison of comparing “casualties” to “casualties,” as our correct answer addresses - we also need a sentence that is logical in wording after the comma. While we likely understand what the author is trying to say (this can sometimes work against us in meaning-based writing questions on the SAT!) it is illogical to say that troops resulted from direct combat. Even if we modify the troops as “troops killed” or “killed troops,” the core of the sentence without the modifier seems to be suggesting that troops resulted from direct combat on the battlefield. Thus, only “casualties” fits what we’re looking for.

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