SAT Writing : Improving Sentences

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Other Commas

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

My dad, after buying the new puppy, followed the training techniques, that the book recommended.

Possible Answers:

My dad after buying the new puppy, followed the training techniques, that the book recommended.

My dad, after buying the new puppy followed the training techniques that the book recommended.

My dad, after buying the new puppy, followed the training techniques, that the book recommended.

My dad, after buying the new puppy, followed the training techniques that the book recommended.

My dad, after buying the new puppy followed the training techniques, that the book recommended.

Correct answer:

My dad, after buying the new puppy, followed the training techniques that the book recommended.

Explanation:

Here, “after buying the puppy” is an interrupting phrase and can be removed from the sentence without making a sentence fragment. For this reason, it has to be set apart by commas. There is no comma between “techniques” and “that” because the words “that the book recommended” are necessary to specify which training techniques the sentence is talking about. If the words were removed, readers wouldn’t know which training techniques the speaker's dad followed. So, as with all essential sentence information, this phrase is not set apart by commas. (An easy trick is to remember that commas never appear immediately before or after the word “that.”)

Example Question #1 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Other Commas

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

The twins spent all day trying on shoes and by the end of the day, they concluded their favorite store was the new boutique that their friends had recommended.

Possible Answers:

The twins spent all day trying on shoes, and by the end, they concluded their favorite store was the new boutique, that their friends had recommended.

The twins spent all day trying on shoes and by the end they concluded their favorite store was the new boutique that their friends had recommended.

The twins spent all day trying on shoes and by the end, they concluded their favorite store was the new boutique that their friends had recommended.

The twins spent all day trying on shoes, and by the end they concluded their favorite store was the new boutique, that their friends had recommended.

The twins spent all day trying on shoes, and by the end, they concluded their favorite store was the new boutique that their friends had recommended.

Correct answer:

The twins spent all day trying on shoes, and by the end, they concluded their favorite store was the new boutique that their friends had recommended.

Explanation:

Since “the twins spent all day trying on shoes” and “by the end of the day, they concluded their favorite store was the new boutique that their friends had recommended” are independent clauses (i.e., complete sentences on their own), a comma must be used before the conjunction (“and”) that joins these two independent clauses. “By the end of the day” is an introductory phrase for the second clause, so it must be separated from that clause with a comma.

There is no comma between “boutique” and “that” because the words “that their friends had recommended” are necessary to specify which boutique the sentence is talking about. So, as with all necessary sentence information, it’s not set off by commas. (Remember, commas never appear immediately before or after the word “that.”)

Example Question #1851 : Improving Sentences

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

The boy, whose parents were dermatologists and experts in their field, came down with a strange rash, that no one could identify.

Possible Answers:

The boy, whose parents were dermatologists and experts in their field, came down with a strange rash, that no one could identify.

The boy, whose parents were dermatologists and experts in their field, came down with a strange rash that no one could identify.

The boy whose parents were dermatologists, and experts in their field, came down with a strange rash that no one could identify.

The boy whose parents were dermatologists and experts in their field came down with a strange rash that no one could identify.

The boy, whose parents were dermatologists, and experts in their field, came down with a strange rash that no one could identify.

Correct answer:

The boy, whose parents were dermatologists and experts in their field, came down with a strange rash that no one could identify.

Explanation:

In this sentence, “whose parents were dermatologists and experts in their field” is a relative clause (non-essential information) that describes “the boy.” As with all relative clauses, this one can be removed and still leave a complete sentence, so it must be set apart with commas.

There is no comma between “rash” and “that” because the words “that no one could identify” are necessary to specify which rash the sentence is talking about. So, as with all necessary sentence information, these words aren’t set apart with commas. (Also, remember that commas never come immediately before or after the word “that.”)

Example Question #1851 : Improving Sentences

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Despite the disagreement with the copy editor the book was published on the date that it was scheduled to be.

Possible Answers:

Despite the disagreement with the copy editor the book, was published on the date that it was scheduled to be. 

Despite the disagreement with the copy editor the book was published, on the date that it was scheduled to be. 

Despite the disagreement with the copy editor the book was published on the date, that it was scheduled to be. 

Despite the disagreement with the copy editor, the book was published on the date that it was scheduled to be. 

Despite the disagreement with the copy editor the book was published on the date that it was scheduled to be. 

Correct answer:

Despite the disagreement with the copy editor, the book was published on the date that it was scheduled to be. 

Explanation:

In this sentence, there only needs to be a comma at the end of the introductory phrase, "Despite the disagreement with the copy editor."

Example Question #4021 : Sat Writing

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Sarah and I saw Amanda, Steven's girlfriend at the mall.

Possible Answers:

Sarah and I saw Amanda, Steven's girlfriend at the mall.

Sarah and I, saw Amanda Steven's girlfriend at the mall.

Sarah and I saw, Amanda Steven's girlfriend, at the mall.

Sarah and I saw Amanda Steven's girlfriend, at the mall.

 

Sarah and I saw Amanda, Steven's girlfriend, at the mall.

Correct answer:

Sarah and I saw Amanda, Steven's girlfriend, at the mall.

Explanation:

Commas must be used at the beginning and end of an interrupting phrase so that, if the phrase were to be deleted, the remaining sentence would still be grammatically correct. Therefore, the correct answer is "Sarah and I saw Amanda, Steven's girlfriend, at the mall."

Interrupting phrases are phrases that interrupt the flow of the grammatical sentence (usually to provide details, opinion, or contextual information).

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