New SAT Writing and Language : Tense and Timeline

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

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Example Questions

Example Question #81 : New Sat Writing And Language

Without earthworms, modern land-based ecosystems would look very different. There 1 are no way to predict the exact changes that would exist without earthworms, but it is easy to recognize earthworms’ impact. 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:

NO CHANGE 

has been

is

was

Correct answer:

is

Explanation:

Whenever you have an inverted sentence like this one, remember that the subject comes directly after the verb (as long as what follows isn't a prepositional phrase!). In this case, that means that the subject of the sentence is "no way", a singular subject. That means that the answer must be either "was", "is", or "has been". To distinguish between them, look at the tense in the rest of the sentence. You must use "is" to keep the sentence in the present tense to match the rest of the sentence.

Example Question #311 : New Sat

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 1 decided that departing 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.

Possible Answers:

deciding to depart

deciding in favor of departing

NO CHANGE

decided to depart

Correct answer:

decided to depart

Explanation:

Whenever you are choosing between different forms of the main verb of a sentence, you should check to make sure that the resulting sentence is in the appropriate tense and that it leaves a complete sentence. In this case, the given sentence is incomplete: if you are "deciding that departing" from a course of action, you are left without a main verb in the sentence and don't have a complete sentence. This means that choice, NO CHANGE, can be eliminated. The same logic can be used to eliminate "deciding in favor of departing"  and "deciding to depart" since both will leave you with an incomplete sentence. Only choice, "decided to depart" leaves you with a complete sentence in the appropriate tense.

Example Question #82 : New Sat Writing And Language

Invertebrates are animals without vertebrae. Arthropods, including arachnids that has eight legs, are in this phylum. Some species in this phylum include scorpions, spiders, and ticks. There are over 45,000 known species of spiders; however, scientists estimate that the same number are still undiscovered.

Possible Answers:

had

have had

NO CHANGE

have

Correct answer:

have

Explanation:

With plural nouns, you need to make sure your verb agrees with your subject. In this modifier, "arachnids" is the subject, meaning the verb tense of "to have" needs to be conjugated to agree with the plural subject of "arachnids." "Have" is the only appropriate answer to this question because it not only agrees with the plural subject; it also carries the correct tense, which in this sentence is the present tense. "Have had" and "Had" are both in the past tense and do not work with this passage's tense and meaning. "Has" is incorrect because it does not agree with the plural "arachnids."

Example Question #312 : New Sat

Music has been around for all of human history, and many cultures have their own styles and instruments. Recently, researchers have identified what are believed to be the oldest musical instruments in the world. Scientists has used carbon dating to discover that flutes made from bird bone and mammoth ivory found in southern Germany were between 42,000 and 43,000 years old.

Possible Answers:

has use

have use

used

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

used

Explanation:

In this passage, the verb does not need to be conjugated to the present perfect tense, which is done by adding “have” or “has,” since the verb is not ongoing “Used” is the correct option because it is the preterite of “use” which expresses a past action or state. “Have use,” “has use,” and “has used” are all conjugated incorrectly for the plural noun “scientists” and do not agree with the plural noun. “Used” is the only option that both correctly agrees with the plural noun and expresses a timeline that is logical.

Example Question #83 : New Sat Writing And Language

Most African cuisine traditionally uses a variety of local grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as milk and meat products. Each region of Africa has different styles and traditional meals. In Central Africa, agriculture consists of yellow onions, yam, spinach, millet, bananas, okra, rice, and garlic. Many meat dishes there consist of chicken or goat. East African dishes focused primarily on grains, such as rice, flour for bread, millet, and maize, and have a plethora of stews cooked with meat and vegetables.

Possible Answers:

focus

have focus

will have focused

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

focus

Explanation:

Whenever the passage is written in the present tense, the verbs used in the passage need to agree with the tense. “Focused” is not the correct answer because it is the simple past tense, and implies that these trends are no longer the case. “Will have focused” is in the future perfect tense, not the present. “Have focus” is an incorrect conjugation and would need to be written as “have focused” to be correct. “Focus” is the only option that is in the present tense and agrees with the subject. We can also use the verb “have” that appears later in the sentence at hand to better identify the correct timeline of events.

 

Example Question #2 : Tense And Timeline

There are many fish that live thousands of meters below the surface of the sea. These deep-sea creatures have adapted to their environment of little to no light. One creature, the vampire squid, is a small creature that grows to be around 6 inches in length and is the only surviving member of its order, Vampyromorphida. The vampire squid have long fins at the top of its body that serves as its means of propulsion, flying through the water by flapping these fins. The vampire squid’s body is covered with light-producing organs called photophores, allowing the vampire squid to use the chemical process known as bioluminescence to see in the dark depths of the ocean.

Possible Answers:

has

have had

NO CHANGE

had

Correct answer:

has

Explanation:

Whenever the passage is written in the present tense, the verbs used in the passage need to create a timeline of events that is logical. “Has had” is in the present perfect tense, but does not agree with the tense in the rest of the passage or the singular subject. You can identify the subject as singular and not plural due to the possessive pronoun “its” following the underlined portion of the sentence. If the subject were plural, the possessive would be “their” instead. “Had” is in the past tense and would not work. “Have” does not agree with the singular subject of the vampire squid, leaving “has” as the only correct option.

Example Question #1 : Grammar: Pronouns And Verbs

The earliest known algebraic mathematical text was found in Egypt, dated to around 1650 BCE. This text shows that the ancient Egyptians could solve both linear equations and systems of equations. The ancient Greeks was best known for their discoveries in Geometry, including the Pythagorean Theorem.

Possible Answers:

is

NO CHANGE

have been

were

Correct answer:

were

Explanation:

The subject of the sentence is “Greeks,” which is a plural noun. The verb would need to agree with the plural subject, therefore “is,” “was,”  and “has been” are incorrect because they are all singular verbs. The passage is also written in the past tense and would need to agree with tense and create a meaning that is logical, so “were” is the only choice that agrees with both the tense and the subject.

Example Question #84 : New Sat Writing And Language

Famous psychologist, Ivan Pavlov, is best known for his study of classical conditioning. Pavlov theorized that one learns through a pairing of a stimulus with a conditioned response. The experiment he conducted demonstrated how the presence of dog food would trigger a conditioned response. The dog food acted as the stimulus, while the conditioned response was that the dogs would salivate. In order to condition the response, every time Pavlov would feed the dogs, he would ring a bell. After he repeated this procedure, he would ring the bell without giving the dogs any food, which still triggered the conditioned response of salivation without the stimulus of food, proving his theory correct.

Possible Answers:

act

NO CHANGE

will act

acts

Correct answer:

NO CHANGE

Explanation:

The passage is written in the past tense and “acted” is the only verb that agrees with that tense. The response “will act” does not work because it is in the future tense. The responses “acts” and “act” are both in the present tense and would also be incorrect. The subject, “food,” is singular and “act” does not agree with the singular subject.

Example Question #1 : Tense And Timeline

Florida was first discovered by Europeans in 1513 by Juan Ponce de Leon. Its first city, St. Augustine, found shortly after in 1565. St. Augustine is known to be the oldest continuously inhabited European establishment. Prior to the colonization of Florida, many indigenous tribes resided there, such as the Apalachee, Seminoles, Timucua, and Creek.

Possible Answers:

finds

find

was founded

NO CHANGE

Correct answer:

was founded

Explanation:

Whenever the verbs in the passage are in the past tense, any verbs that follow need to keep with the same verb tense to create a meaning that is logical. This passage is written in the past tense, so the verbs need to agree with the past tense. “Founded” is the correct answer because this means “to found,” or establish something, such as a company or in this case: a city. “Find” and “Finds” are both in the present tense and would not agree with the sentence. “Found” is incorrect because, while still in the past tense, it expresses a different, illogical meaning.

Example Question #2 : Grammar: Pronouns And Verbs

Since 1988, the mission of molecular gastronomy 1 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 its ability to impact how the world cooks at home.

Possible Answers:

had shifted

has been shifted

NO CHANGE 

has shifted

Correct answer:

has shifted

Explanation:

Whenever you are asked to choose between different verb tenses, especially different forms of the past tense, you should look for signal words elsewhere in the passage that tells you which past tense form to use. In this case, you are given the word "since" at the beginning of the sentence, meaning that this process has been ongoing since 1988. Choices "shifted", "had shifted", and "has been shifted" all indicate that the shift has happened in the past and has ended. Only "has shifted" indicates that the change is still ongoing.

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