SAT Writing : Analyzing, Combining, and Moving Content

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #2 : Analyzing Content

In Swift's other works is found an equable tenor of easy language, which rather trickles than flows. His delight was in simplicity. That he has in his works no metaphor, as has been said, is not true; but his few metaphors seem to be received rather by necessity than choice. He studied purity; and though perhaps all his strictures are not exact, yet it is not often that solecisms can be found; and whoever depends on his authority may generally conclude himself safe. His sentences are never too much dilated or contracted; and it will not be easy to find any embarrassment in the complication of his clauses, any inconsequence in his connections, or abruptness in his transitions.

How can the significance of the underlined sentence to the overall passage best be described?

Possible Answers:

The underlined sentence explains how Swift's authority is an example of simplicity.

The underlined sentence explains how Swift's way of structuring sentences is an example of simplicity.

The underlined sentence explains how Swift's easy language is an example of simplicity.

The underlined sentence explains how Swift's metaphors are an example of simplicity.

Correct answer:

The underlined sentence explains how Swift's way of structuring sentences is an example of simplicity.

Explanation:

The underlined sentence has to do with the simplicity of Swift's sentence structure, as is demonstrated by the references to "clauses," "connections," and "transitions."

(Passage adapted from "Swift" in Volume III of Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets by Samuel Johnson, 1781)

Example Question #3 : Analyzing Content

Those who would gladly pass their days together may be separated by the different course of their affairs; and friendship, like love, is destroyed by long absence, though it may be increased by short intermissions. What we have missed long enough to want it, we value more when it is regained; but that which has been lost till it is forgotten, will be found at last with little gladness, and with still less if a substitute has supplied the place. A man deprived of the companion to whom he used to open his bosom, and with whom he shared the hours of leisure and merriment, feels the day at first hanging heavy on him; his difficulties oppress, and his doubts distract him; he sees time come and go without his wonted gratification, and all is sadness within, and solitude about him. But this uneasiness never lasts long; necessity produces expedients, new amusements are discovered, and new conversation is admitted.

How can the significance of the underlined sentence to the overall passage best be described?

Possible Answers:

It explains how all of the troubles following the loss of a friend cannot be ameliorated by new amusements and conversations.

It explains how all of the troubles following the loss of a friend are exercerbated by new amusements and conversations.

It explains how all of the troubles following the loss of a friend do not end quickly.

It explains how all of the troubles following the loss of a friend soon pass.

Correct answer:

It explains how all of the troubles following the loss of a friend soon pass.

Explanation:

After listing the many problems that follow the loss of a friend, the passage ends with a sentence that shows that these problems soon pass when a person finds new amusements and conversations.

(Sentence adapted from "The Decay of Friendship" in Issue 23 of The Idler by Samuel Johnson, September 23rd, 1758.)

Example Question #4 : Analyzing Content

Adapted from “Our Amateur Poets, No. III. — William Ellery Channing” in The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. XI: Literary Criticism by Edgar Allan Poe (1843, ed. 1902)

In speaking of Mr. William Ellery Channing, who has just published a very neat little volume of poems, we feel the necessity of employing the indefinite rather than the definite article. He is a, and by no means the, William Ellery Channing. He is only the son of the great essayist deceased. He is just such a person, in despite of his clarum et venerabile nomen, as Pindar would have designated by the significant term τις. 

How can the significance of the underlined sentence to the overall passage best be described?

Possible Answers:

It makes clear that Pindar would have designated Channing with the Greek term τις.

It makes clear that Channing is the son of a famous essayist.

It makes clear that one should not confuse Channing with his more famous father.

It makes clear that this is not the William Channing being talked about.

Correct answer:

It makes clear that one should not confuse Channing with his more famous father.

Explanation:

While all of the other statements may be true based on the entire excerpt, the underlined sentence clarifies that Channing is not the same person as his more famous father.

Example Question #5 : Analyzing Content

Adapted from “Our Amateur Poets, No. III. — William Ellery Channing” in The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. XI: Literary Criticism by Edgar Allan Poe (1843, ed. 1902)

It may be said in [Channing's] favor that nobody ever heard of him. He has always succeeded in keeping himself from being made the subject of gossip. His book contains about sixty-three things, which he calls poems, and which he no doubt seriously supposes so to be. They are full of all kinds of mistakes, of which the most important is that of their having been printed at all. 

How can the significance of the underlined sentence to the overall passage best be described?

Possible Answers:

The writer feels that Channing's "poems" are too awful to be published.

The writer feels that the mistake in printing Channing's "poems" is that they open him up to gossip.

The writer feels that Channing's "poems" are not poetry at all.

The writer feels that Channing's "poems" are not well known enough.

Correct answer:

The writer feels that Channing's "poems" are too awful to be published.

Explanation:

The overall sense of the passage is that these "poems" are not poetry at all and are in fact so awful that publishing them was a mistake.

Example Question #6 : Analyzing Content

Adapted from “Our Amateur Poets, No. III. — William Ellery Channing” in The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. XI: Literary Criticism by Edgar Allan Poe (1843, ed. 1902)

[Channing's poems] are not precisely English; perhaps they are Channingese. We may convey some general idea of them by two foreign terms not in common use — the Italian pavoneggiarsi, “to strut like a peacock,” and the German word for “sky-rocketing,” schwarmerei. They are more preposterous, in a word, than any poems except those of the author of “Sam Patch;” for we presume we are right (are we not?) in taking it for granted that the author of “Sam Patch” is the very worst of all the wretched poets that ever existed upon earth.

How can the significance of the underlined sentence to the overall passage best be described?

Possible Answers:

Channing is the author of "Sam Patch" as well as these poems.

Channing's poetry is not the worst, but it is very close to the worst.

Channing's poetry is the very worst that ever existed.

Channing's poetry uses proposterous foreign words which makes them as bad as "Sam Patch."

Correct answer:

Channing's poetry is not the worst, but it is very close to the worst.

Explanation:

The author says that Channing's poems are more proposterous than any others except for "Sam Patch," which he considers the worst.

Example Question #7 : Analyzing Content

Adapted from “Our Amateur Poets, No. III. — William Ellery Channing” in The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. XI: Literary Criticism by Edgar Allan Poe (1843, ed. 1902)

In spite, however, of the customary phrase about a man’s “making a fool of himself,” we doubt if any one was ever a fool of his own free will and accord. A poet, therefore, should not always be taken too strictly to task. He should be treated with leniency, and, even when damned, should be damned with respect. 

How can the significance of the underlined sentence to the overall passage best be described?

Possible Answers:

Poets do not make fools of themselves willingly.

Since poetry is difficult to write well, even a bad poet must be treated respectfully.

Poets are above the censure reserved for other writers.

Poets cannot be held to the same standards as other writers.

Correct answer:

Since poetry is difficult to write well, even a bad poet must be treated respectfully.

Explanation:

The author believes that poets should not be taken so strictly to task because poetry demands some respect (presumably because it is so difficult to write well).

Example Question #8 : Analyzing Content

Adapted from “Our Amateur Poets, No. III. — William Ellery Channing” in The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. XI: Literary Criticism by Edgar Allan Poe (1843, ed. 1902)

Nobility of descent, too, should be allowed its privileges not more in social life than in letters. The son of a great author cannot be handled too tenderly by the critical Jack Ketch. Mr. Channing must be hung, that’s true. He must be hung in terrorem — and for this there is no help under the sun; but then we shall do him all manner of justice, and observe every species of decorum, and be especially careful of his feelings, and hang him gingerly and gracefully, with a silken cord, as the Spaniards hang their grandees of the blue blood, their nobles of the sangre azula.

How can the significance of the underlined sentence to the overall passage best be described?

Possible Answers:

The poet will not be criticized very harshly.

The poet will be treated as harshly as any other writer.

The poet will be criticized, but gently, as befits his pedigree.

The poet will be executed literally and in the same way as the Spaniards execute their nobles.

Correct answer:

The poet will be criticized, but gently, as befits his pedigree.

Explanation:

The author here is suggesting that, because of his pedigree, Channing will still be metaphorically executed, but in a gentler way than usual.

Example Question #361 : Improving Paragraphs

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Most cacti are covered in sharp spikes, as my dog found out by attempting to sniffed one. No error

Possible Answers:

spikes, as my dog

one

No error

Most cacti are

to sniffed

Correct answer:

to sniffed

Explanation:

The latter half of the sentence takes place in the past, as we can tell from the verb phrase "found out." However, that does not mean that all past-tense verbs are correctly used. In particular, "to sniffed" is incorrect in this sentence, as the verb following "attempting" needs to be an infinitive. Changing "to sniffed" to "to sniffing" would correct the sentence's error.

Example Question #362 : Improving Paragraphs

(1) In spite of the numerous museums and schools dedicated to its appreciation, modern art still has yet to achieve the level of popular appreciation that many other art forms experience. (2) Many remain critical of the so-called "non-figurative" turn of European art that occurred in the latter part of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century that has had such a profound impact on art production since. (3) Contributing artists Van Gogh, Cézanne and Kandinsky each experimented with constitutive aspects of art works. (4) That is to say, they focused on issues such as how light interacts with objects, how depictions of visual space in a work tease normal perceptual capacities, or how color induces emotional responses. (5) Although they didn't always focus on the "realistic" depiction of figures in a pictorial scene, they nevertheless made significant and lasting contributions to how we think about the techniques and aspects that make up art objects and practice.

How can the significance of the underlined sentence to the overall paragraph best be described?

Possible Answers:

The artistic approaches listed in the underlined sentence explain the necessity for the non-figurative turn in European art.

The underlined sentence provides three reasons for which it makes little sense to talk of a consolidated and abstract notion such as "modern art."

The underlined sentence explains why these figures of modern art have not received the appreciation that they so deserve.

The underlined sentence illustrates the experimental contributions that each of the individual artists listed in the sentence before it made to modern art.

The underlined sentence lists the contributions that museums and schools have since been dedicated to preserve and protect.

Correct answer:

The underlined sentence illustrates the experimental contributions that each of the individual artists listed in the sentence before it made to modern art.

Explanation:

That "the underlined sentence illustrates the experimental contributions that each of the individual artists listed in the sentence before it made to modern art" is the best answer here because the other claims are either unjustified or inadequate.

Example Question #363 : Improving Paragraphs

 [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.

Which two sentences in the paragraph best show a cause-effect relationship?

Possible Answers:

Sentences 5 and 6

Sentences 7 and 8 

Sentences 9 and 10

Sentences 2 and 3

Sentences 8 and 9

Correct answer:

Sentences 2 and 3

Explanation:

Of the sentences in this paragraph, Sentences 2 and 3 most clearly show a cause-effect relationship. Sentence 2 is the cause ("the English people were upset that King John was ignoring their complaints") and Sentence 3 is the effect ("They threatened King John and he agreed to sign the Magna Carta.") Neither sentence would work without the other.

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