by guest author Douglas Groene
6.) Comparisons– Whenever you see a comparison on the SAT, make sure the items are logically comparable. You can compare apples to apples, or even to bananas or kiwis, but you can’t compare apples to a geographical location:
“Mmm, these apples are much tastier than back in New York.”
In real life, we can just assume you mean “tastier than the apples back in new York,” but on the SAT you have to be clear about the items you are comparing.
7.) Sentence Structure– You should know the difference between an independent clause (which expresses a complete thought) and a dependent clause. Every valid sentence needs at least one independent clause- otherwise it is a sentence fragment no matter how many dependent clauses you string together:
For example, “Being the fifth child and the youngest in my family, although by no means the least talented, seeking attention from my older siblings night and day.”
This is not a valid sentence because it lacks an independent clause.
You can join an independent clause and a dependent clause together with just a comma, but you can’t put two independent clauses together with just a comma- that is a run-on sentence:
For example, “The Jets are an awful football team, they will not make the playoffs.”
To fix the run-on sentence, you can change the comma to a semicolon, use a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) after the comma, make one of the independent clauses dependent, or break it up into two sentences.
8.) Modifiers– A modifier must be as close as possible to the item it modifies in order to avoid confusion. On the SAT, be particularly careful of introductory phrases or clauses set off by a comma- they modify the word immediately following the comma:
For example, “Filling the sky with a bright orange glow, James sat back and enjoyed the gorgeous sunset.”
The sentence is wrong because James was not the one filling the sky with a bright orange glow. To correct it, you would need to place the modifier right next to the word being modified, sunset:
“James sat back and enjoyed the gorgeous sunset, which filled the sky with a bright orange glow.”
9.) Parallelism– Whenever you see a list of items or a comparison between items, make sure the items are in parallel form. They should all be the same part of speech:
For example: “My favorite things to do in my free time are baking pastries, playing tennis, and movies.”
You would need to say “watching movies” or “going to the movies” in order to make the list parallel.
10.) Wordiness– On the SAT, concise sentences are preferable to wordy ones. One issue to look out for is the passive voice, which is inherently wordy. Sentences in the passive voice begin with the thing being acted upon, rather than the actor. By contrast, the active voice, which is correct on the SAT, begins with the subject.
For example, “The new law was voted on by the legislature.”
You can change the above sentence to the active voice by beginning with the the word performing the action, the legislature:
“The legislature voted on the new law.”
Douglas Groene has over ten years experience in tutoring for the ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, and LSAT. He is the founder and author of Pencil Nerd’s Test Prep Blog, which contains interesting news, tips, tools, and product reviews relating to test prep for the major standardized tests.