How do you identify the sentence correction portion of the SAT writing test?
Sentence correction questions present a sentence with four short underlines throughout and a "no error" choice at the end.
The (a) grand parade (b) was postponed for two hours, because the rain (c) expects (d) to abate soon. (e) no error
What is the best strategy to prepare for sentence correction on SAT writing?
The best strategy for preparing for sentence correction is to study the most common errors, then practice recognizing them on sample questions.
What makes sentence correction challenging?
Sentence correction challenges:
- large number of rules
- good process requires specific checklists
- prior knowledge and understanding may be weak
- questions with "no error" are hard
- limited time
What part of speech is most often incorrect in the sentence correction section?
Verbs are most often incorrect on this part of the test.
What common verb errors are tested on SAT sentence correction?
Common verb errors:
- Verb agreement
- Verb tense
- Verb form confusion
- Verb idioms
What is verb agreement? When do you look for verb agreement errors?
Verb agreement is the use of a verb form that matches with the subject of the sentence.
They sing -- he sings. (adding an -s for the he/she/it form)
Look for this error only in the present tense and two special past tense forms.
Which sentence has an agreement error?
(a) The imaginary dancers performs for her each night.
(b) There are scads of good reasons why he went to the show.
Sentence (a) has an agreement error.
"Performs" is the verb. Who is performing? "Dancers," which is plural. So, to agree with the subject, it should be "perform."
How does the SAT challenge you with verb ageement?
The SAT always tries to confuse you about the subject of the sentence.
Each of the students score well on standardized tests.
If you identify the wrong subject, you'll choose the wrong verb form. Each...scores is correct; "of the students" is the trap.
What are the three ways verb agreement errors are hidden on the SAT?
Separation using phrases
Cards to follow will detail each.
How does the SAT confuse the student with subject/predicate separation?
The manager of the company's three divisions await the market forecast to see if she can approve hiring again.
The SAT confuses you by separating the predicate from the subject with a phrase or clause that is meant to trick you.
The manager (subject) of the company's three divisions [trick separator] awaits (predicate) the market forecast to see if she can approve hiring again.
What kind of verb agreement trap is used in this sentence?
The local congressman, a loyal member of his party but living in two communities, liken his role as a bridge from one to the other.
Verb agreement is hidden by separation.
The large apositive (set apart from the sentence with commas) leaves "communities" next to "liken", but the subject is clearly "congressman" (singular).
Learn to look for these structures as indicators of an error. Once you know every way that the SAT hides errors, you'll catch on easily!
What kind of verb agreement trap is used in this sentence.
Consequently, there is certainly many Americans willing to serve their country.
The test will show you inverted verb-subject structures.
The subject is often expected to the left of the predicate.
In this case, "there" is an adverb, and "is" does not agree with it. The subject of the sentence is the plural "Americans", which agrees with "are".
What is the agreement error in this sentence?
On the other side of those perilous mountains lie the land that they seek.
"Lie" is incorrect. It needs to be "lies" to agree with "land".
This word order is ancient and really rare, but not rare on the SAT test.
Notice, "On the other side of those perilous mountains" isn't followed by a comma. In this syntax, a comma isn't necessary. That's a hint that they are using a weird word order.
What is the best process for finding verb agreement errors on the test?
To find verb agreement errors:
- Spot the flags, so an error may jump out
- Find the verb and ask "who or what is doing this?" to confirm the subject
- Check the number and the verb form
In what way can the SAT confuse you about whether the subject is singular or plural?
(a) Polly and Megan likes the new dribbling drill at soccer camp.
(b) The time limitation along with unusual forms and outright tricks are what makes the SAT writing difficult.
The SAT disguises the subject to appear plural.
(a) "Polly and Megan" is replaced by the pronoun "they" but a student might just overlook "Polly and" and see only the word to the left of the verb and read "Megan likes".
(b) "Limitation" is the singular subject and needs "is" to agree. "Along with..." is a disguise.
What are the flags that indicate disguised errors for verb agreement in a sentence?
Commitment to practice, in addition to good coaching and time management, ensure effective preparation for SAT.
Gardening, as well as walking around the neighborhood and volunteering at the retirement center, is what keeps grandma vibrant.
The disguised flags for subject-verb errors are:
in addition to...
as well as...
When you see any of these phrases, look carefully at verb agreement.
Find the error in this sentence.
The handler (a) of the teen sensation, as well as a few other (b) notable stars, (c) work tirelessly (d) to market her image. (e) no error
(c) subject verb agreement error - "handler...works"
(a) "of" is the correct preposition.
(b) "notable" modifies "stars" correctly.
(d) "to market" works better than "marketing"
Find the error in this sentence.
(a) Between the bowling alley and the skating rink (b) sit a large, (c) albeit modest, monument (d) depicting Christopher Columbus. (e) no error
(b) sits - "monument" is subject
(a) "Between" is fine
(c) "albeit" is a correct modifier for "modest".
(d) "depicting" is preferred to "to depict".
Find the error in this sentence.
The members of every team in the tournament (a) was exposed to (b) virulent meningitis during the games, and doctors admitted some to the hospital despite (c) the fact that several (d) only had a mild cold. (e) no error
(a) "were exposed" - members
(b) "virulent" is the correct word and modifies "meningitis" correctly.
(c) "the fact that" could certainly be rephrased, but isn't incorrect.
(d) "only had" matches the tense of the other verbs, and is properly limited.
What kind of verb error requires the clearest understanding of grammar to reliably correct?
Verb tenses require the clearest understanding of grammar to reliably correct.
Which verb tenses are commonly tested in the sentence correction portion of SAT Writing?
The SAT tests present and past perfect tenses most often.
How is the present perfect tense formed?
The present perfect is formed with a helping verb (have, has) and a past participle form of a verb.
He has spoken at his high school several times.
I have never jumped so high in all my life.
How does the present perfect form below convey a slightly different idea than the past form?
(a) By her reaction, I can tell that she has seen his face before.
(b) She saw clearly that he intended harm.
(a) "has seen" is used for a non-specific past reference.
(b) "saw" is a single event that is nailed down to a specific point in time.
Do the verbs in the following sentences need to be in the present perfect tense?
(a) Up to now, Antoine slept well on his waterbed.
(b) Purdita cared for her puppies very well.
(c) I think I ridiculed him a little too much.
(a) needs to be present perfect.
"Up to now" creates a verb continuing from the past and ending in the present. "Antoine has slept"
(b) doesn't need to change.
(c) needs to be present perfect.
"I think" is present, which never can go with past. "I think I have ridiculed" is correct.
When you face a verb underlined in the sentence correction section, how do you eliminate tense as a possible error?
Look for other verbs or definite time indicators.
A present tense verb can only match with another present tense or present perfect, NOT with past or past perfect.
Time indicators like, "Yesterday morning" limit the tense possibilities.
As you first read the sentence recognize these indicators and check the verbs immediately.
How are these two sentences interpreted differently in time?
(a) I had two dollars in my pocket just a minute ago.
(b) Despite the actions of that demented woman, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was able to come to Washington and tell the world about the dream that he had had.
(a) "had" here means possessed, but the possession is over.
(b) the double "had had" shows that having a dream happened before "was able to come".
So, we interpret the verb in the past perfect as happening before the past tense verb.
Which of the following verbs needs to be in the past perfect tense?
(a) In first half of the thirteenth century, European maps grew in scope and detail.
(b) Brutus reasoned that Caesar became a monster that had to be opposed.
(c) Throughout the twenties, bootleggers consolidated their power.
(d) By the end of World War II, America grew to be a dominant world power.
(a) doesn't need it.
(b) "became" needs to be "had become".
(c) doesn't need it.
(d) "grew" needs to be "had grown".
In three of the cases, there are indicators of time, but "In" and "Throughout" locate an event in time, while "By the end of..." references some continuous event.
How do you check whether the verb should be in past perfect tense?
As you first read the sentence, notice the tense of each verb and the presence of prepositions that define time.
The past perfect form (had + past participle) will be used with simple past or with time indicators relating to the ending of some past continuing action.
How should you approach tense errors on the SAT if you still don't completely understand them?
Skip them until last.
During the test there is often a more obvious error in some other area for you to find. Don't get bogged down in complicated thinking. Come back to it once you've eliminated all the others then concentrate on finding and interpreting the flags.
How do you decide whether "have", "has", or "had" needs to be used with a past participle?
Deciding on "have" or "has" is about agreeing with the subject, just like in the present tense.
He has finally found his missing glove.
They have placed the money into the account, as instructed.
Deciding on "had" means you need the past perfect tense.
He had donated two million to their cause before the scandal broke.