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Flashcards in Paragraph Improvement Deck (31)
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1

What does the paragraph improvement portion of SAT writing look like -- and where is it found?

Paragraph improvement begins with a student essay of about 250 words in three paragraphs followed by 6 questions. It is the last section of the 25-minute multiple choice section.

2

What are you instructed to do on the paragraph improvement portion of the SAT?

In a text box introducing the section, the test identifies an "early draft" of an essay to follow that needs to be "rewritten".

Then, it advises you to "read the passage" in order to "select the best answer for each question that follows."

Then, it gives you an idea of the type of questions to follow. Some are about "organization and development"; others are about "sentence structure, wording, and word choice" within individual sentences.

3

What is the strategy for getting the best result on paragraph improvement?

Improve your speed through the other sections of the test with good time management. You may need the time for this section.

Review common errors from sentence improvement and sentence correction so that those questions can be handled efficiently.

Practice test samples once you've improved your knowledge of the process and the questions to expect.

4

What process should you follow for paragraph improvement?

Check time going into the section. You should need about 4 minutes.

If you have that much time, scan the essay marking errors that you see. Then, read and identify each type of question to predict an answer. Search and eliminate. If a question takes more than 30 seconds, move on and come back if you have time.

5

What should you do if you don't have 4 minutes to do the paragraph improvement section?

Skip the scanning of the paragraphs. Read and identify each question type; then do the questions related to sentence correction and wording first.

(As time runs out, for the others, you may try to eliminate a few distractor answer choices before you have to guess.)

6

What types of questions does paragraph improvement ask?

PI questions deal with:

  • General organization (involving adding sentences, moving sentences and deleting sentences to improve coherency and the flow of ideas)
  • Revising sentences (including improving word order, word choice, and grammar)
  • Combining sentences

7

What kinds of general organization questions will you see in paragraph improvement?

General organization questions:

  • Questions that give a choice about a proposed added sentence
  • Questions that ask where a new sentence would be best added
  • Questions that ask where a sentence within the passage would be better placed (including deleting it)

8

How can you identify, at a glance, questions on general organization?

General organization questions will use phrases such as "which sentence", "add", "insert", or "delete".

If you're running out of time, skip these until last.  They take the longest.

9

What is the key to quickly deciding where a sentence belongs in the paragraphs?

Decide if the sentence is an opinion or a detail supporting an opinion.

Opinions will be located at or near the first sentence of a paragraph.

Details will come in a reasonable order thereafter.

10

Decide whether this sentence is an opinion or a supporting detail.

The jumbotron with its instant replay, "Kiss Cam", "Dancing Hats", and trivia questions fills the gaps in the action.

This is a detail, supporting some point about stadium entertainment.

Details support opinions. So, look for a lower placement within the paragraph.

11

Decide whether this sentence is an opinion or a supporting detail.

Most audience members do not realize the number of practice hours that go into one classical orchestral performance.

This is an opinion, looking for details about preparation to become a musician.

Opinions usually start paragraphs of this type.  So, look for that placement.

12

How would you begin to answer this question?

Which of the following sentences, if inserted after sentence 2, would most improve the paragraph?

(1) The Olympic Games show the duality of competition. (2) They bring well-trained athletes together to push the envelope of human ability.

Analyze the paragraph identifying sentence types and keywords.

Sentence (1) is an opinion. Sentence (2) is a detail supporting opinion.

You should predict another supporting opinion.

13

In order to choose the right detail sentence, what do you have to recognize in the opinion sentence?

Which of the following sentences, if inserted after sentence 2, would most improve the paragraph?

(1) The Olympic Games show the duality of competition. (2) They bring well-trained athletes together to push the envelope of human ability.

In this case, you have to recognize the keyword "duality," which means two opposing qualities.

Since only one sentence follows, the next sentence must give a meaning that is in opposition to sentence (2) to complete the "duality".

14

Answer the question based upon the context within the keyword "duality".

Which of the following sentences, if inserted after sentence 2, would most improve the paragraph?

(1) The Olympic Games show the duality of competition. (2) They bring well-trained athletes together to push the envelope of human ability.

(a) The athletes follow a challenging regimen of diet and exercise to reach this peak of performance.
(b) However, they also tempt these athletes to risk damaging their bodies with performance enhancing drugs.
(c) They provide an opportunity for national unity and inspiration.
(d) They give an economic boost to a region of the world.
(e) They give an opportunity for those athletes specializing in less popular sports to be known.

(b) shows a negative side of the Olympics, which connects back to the keyword "duality."

15

How should you approach the paragraph improvement section when you have over 4 minutes?

Read the essay quickly to identify the overall context.

Almost every question on this section references context.

If you've practiced the other sections, you WILL have more than enough time to read this passage.

16

Skim this passage and identify the overall context.

(1) It is generally understood that college is accepted as the only credible path to success in life today. (2) However, there have been two disturbing trends in America regarding higher education: the invalidation of the high school diploma, and the uncertainty that a college education leads to success.
(3) There was a time when a high school diploma was adequate to prepare a person for a life of work with some hope for prosperity. (4) Manufacturing jobs, requiring only a diploma, brought a decent living for very little education.  (5) The vast majority of Americans didn’t think college was necessary to having a good life. (6) That so much prosperity could be built upon a high school degree is almost mystifying today.
(7) That was then. (8) Today, there is tremendous pressure to go to college, and those who have only a high school diploma face a serious struggle to reach a comfortable position in society. (9) The ambivalence creates the high school curriculum, and learning opportunities are lost, because the student knows the “important” education comes in college.  (10) Ironically though, instead of it being a dream, for many of these students, it becomes a nightmare.
(11) For a significant number of students, college represents a way into permanent debt with little or no hope for a better career path. (12) Almost every student, even students who say that they hate school, declares that they are college bound. (13) For-profit universities cater to students with less impressive high school credentials by securing loans for them.  (14) The academic programs are either too hard and they fail, or too easy and the degrees are meaningless in the marketplace.

Overall, the passage discusses problems in higher education.

Sentences (1) - (2) is a preconceived notion vs. a two-fold problematic reality.
Sentences (3) - (6) gives a retrospective of the opportunities of a high school education.
Sentences (7) - (10) relates the changes in the effectiveness of high school programs
.
Sentences (11) - (14) exposes the dangers and failures of the college experience for some students.

(This kind of detail is NOT necessary during the skimming, but the overall gist must be understood.)

17

How do you approach the questions after skimming the passage?

Identify the type of question.

Either paragraph structure questions or sentence effectiveness questions.

18

Identify the type of PI question.

In context, which revision to this portion of sentence (2) is most needed?

However, there have been two disturbing trends in America regarding higher education: the invalidation of the high school diploma, and that college leads to an uncertain success.

This is a sentence revision, but you will have clues from the context of the passage.

19

Answer the sentence revision question.

In context, which revision to this portion of sentence (2) is most needed?

However, there have been two disturbing trends in American higher education: the invalidation of the high school diploma, and that college leads to an uncertain success.

(a) education; the invalidation of the high school diploma, and that college leads to an uncertain success.
(b) education: the invalidation of the high school diploma, and the uncertainty that a college education leads to success.
(c) education: the uncertainty of the high school diploma, and the invalidation of college success.
(d) education: the high school diploma invalidates an uncertain college success.
(e) education: the invalidation of high school diplomas, and uncertainty of college successes.

(b) creates a parallel structure and addresses the illogic of "uncertain success".

(a) The semicolon creates a run-on.
(c) "Uncertainty of a high school diploma" is not a point explored in the paragraph to follow.

(d) "High school diploma invalidates an unceratin college success" makes very little sense.
(e) "Invalidation of high school diplomas" refers to a specific event, and is illogical.

20

Identify what type of question this is and how you would predict an answer.

Which sentence would improve the overall flow if added to the end of the first parapragh?

(1) It is generally understood, that college is accepted as the only credible path to success in life today. (2) However, there have been two disturbing trends in America regarding higher education: the invalidation of the high school diploma, and the uncertainty that a college education leads to success.

This is a general organization question, and you must look at the first paragraph and predict a transition from main sentence to first topic.

21

Answer the general organization question.

Which sentence would improve the overall flow if added to the end of the first parapragh?

(1) It is generally understood, that college is accepted as the only credible path to success in life today.  (2)  However, there have been two disturbing trends in America regarding higher education:  the invalidation of the high school diploma, and the uncertainty that a college education leads to success.

(a) These two trends are partners in crime that have solidified the two career paths in America.
(b) Although there is stronger evidence of this in other nations in the recent past, it is still a truly American phenomenon.

(c) However, the elasticity of the American Dream is expected to weather this stormy crisis.
(d) These trends have endangered the very soul of America, starting with high schoolers and then onto college students.
(e) Fifty years ago, the U.S. economy was humming, and no one saw these trends coming.

(e) closes the paragraph and indicates the retrospective paragraph that follows.

(a) Starts well, but the paragraphs to follow don't support "solidified".
(b) Is illogical on its face, saying opposite things about the problem.
(c) This is not supported by the paragraphs to follow.

(d) Awkwardly written and not supported by the paragraph.

22

Identify the kind of question this is and how you would predict an answer.

Where would the following sentence be added to improve paragraph two?

In fact, these jobs paid well enough, that only one member of the household often worked full-time.

(3) There was a time when a high school diploma was adequate to prepare a person for a life of work with some hope for prosperity. (4) Manufacturing jobs, requiring only a diploma, brought a decent living on very little education. (5) The vast majority of Americans didn’t think college was necessary to having a good life. (6) That so much prosperity could be built upon a high school degree is almost mystifying today.

This is general organization of a single paragraph. You first decide whether the proposed sentence is opinion or detail, then check context for best position.

It is a detail statement.

23

Answer the general organization question.

Where would the following sentence be added to improve paragraph two?

In fact, these jobs paid well enough, that often only one member of the household  worked full-time.

(3) There was a time when a high school diploma was adequate to prepare a person for a life of work with some hope for prosperity. (4) Manufacturing jobs, requiring only a diploma, brought a decent living on very little education. (5) The vast majority of Americans didn’t think college was necessary to having a good life. (6) That so much prosperity could be built upon a high school degree is almost mystifying today.

(a) Before sentence 3
(b) Between sentence 3 and 4
(c) Between sentence 4 and 5

(d) Between sentence 5 and 6
(e) After sentence 6

(c) Between 4 and 5.

The sentence clearly continues from "manufacturing jobs" and leads to the summation to follow.

24

Identify the kind of question this is and how you would predict an answer?

How could sentence 6 and 7 be best combined into one sentence?

(6) That was then. (7) Today, there is tremendous pressure to go to college, and those who have only a high school diploma face a serious struggle to reach a comfortable position in society.

This is a combining sentence question. The two sentences are in opposition, so look for that to be reflected in the conjunctions.

25

Answer the sentence combination question.

How could sentence 7 and 8 be best combined into one sentence?

(7) That was then. (8) Today, there is tremendous pressure to go to college, and those who have only a high school diploma face a serious struggle to reach a comfortable position in society.

(a) That was then; today, there is tremendous pressure to go to college, and those who have only a high school diploma face a serious struggle to reach a comfortable position in society.
(b) That was then, while, today, those who have a high school diploma face tremendous pressure to go to college or will struggle to reach a comfortable position in society.
(c) That was then, however, today, those who have a high school diploma face tremendous pressure to go to college or will struggle to reach a comfortable position in society.
(d) That was then, but now those who have a high school diploma face tremendous pressure to go to college or struggle to reach a comfortable position in society.
(e) That was then, but now high school graduates have a choice between tremendous pressure to go to college or face a serious struggle to reach a comfortable position in society.

(d) The connections between the clauses are better here and its more clearly stated overall.

(a) is still wordy and the connections do not show proper relationship between the clauses.
(b) "while" means things are happening siumlataneously which is not the right connection.
(c) creates a comma splice, and we can't have that, now can we.

(e) makes an illogical statement, because the "pressure to go to college" is always there.  It's not a "choice" of pressure or struggle.  It's a choice of "go to college" or "struggle".

26

Identify the kind of question this is and how you would predict an answer?

Which sentence from paragraph 2 could be deleted without altering the flow of the passage?

(3) There was a time when a high school diploma was adequate to prepare a person for a life of work with some hope for prosperity.  (4) Manufacturing jobs, requiring only a diploma, brought a decent living on very little education.  (5) The vast majority of Americans didn’t think college was necessary to having a good life.  (6) That so much prosperity could be built upon a high school degree is almost mystifying today.

This is a general organization question.  Look for a sentence that is off topic for the passage.

27

Answer the deletion question.

Which sentence from paragraph 2 could be deleted without altering the flow of the passage?

(3) There was a time when a high school diploma was adequate to prepare a person for a life of work with some hope for prosperity. (4) Manufacturing jobs, requiring only a diploma, brought a decent living on very little education.  (5) The vast majority of Americans didn’t think college was necessary to having a good life. (6) That so much prosperity could be built upon a high school degree is almost mystifying today.

(a) Sentence 3
(b) Sentence 4

(c) Sentence 5
(d) Sentence 6
(e) No sentence should be deleted.

(d) Sentence 6 presents a commentary on the possibility of a viable career path based on a high school diploma from a current perspective, which is not quite on topic.

28

Identify the kind of question this is and how you would predict an answer?

In context, what is the best revision for sentence 9?

The ambivalence creates the high school curriculum, and learning opportunities are lost, because the student knows the “important” education comes in college.

This is a sentence revision, check the context of the paragraph to be sure of the correction.

29

Answer the sentence revision question.

In context, what is the best revision for sentence 9?

(7) That was then. (8) Today, there is tremendous pressure to go to college, and those who have only a high school diploma face a serious struggle to reach a comfortable position in society. (9) The ambivalence creates the high school curriculum, and learning opportunities are lost, because the student knows the “important” education comes in college.  (10) Ironically though, instead of it being a dream, for many of these students, it becomes a nightmare. 

(a) The ambivalence creates the high school curriculum, and learning opportunities are lost, because the student knows the “important” education comes in college.
(b) The high school creates ambivalent curriculum and loses learning opportunities, because the student knows the important education happens in college.

(c) High schools create ambivalence for learning opportunities, because they tell the student that the most important education happens in college.
(d) This creates ambivalence towards high school opportunites, because the student knows the important education comes after college.
(e) This creates ambivalence towards the high school curriculum, and learning opportunities are lost, because the student knows the “important” education comes in college.

(e) best revises sentence 9

(a) makes no change when "ambivalence" can't create anything.
(b) "high schools" are not losing "learning opportunities. They provide them.
(c) makes the statement too broad.  If "high schools cteate ambivalence of learning opportunities", then they can't be promoting "education in college".
(d) makes the statement too broad, also.  The "ambivalence" is toward learning "opportunities".

30

Identify the kind of question this is and how you would predict an answer?

Where would sentence 12 be best place within the passage?

Almost every student, even students who say that they hate school, declares that they are college bound.

This is general organization.  Read the context of the sentence locate the paragraph with the topic related to it.