SAT Improving Paragraphs: Test 2

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Directions: This passage is an early draft of an essay, and some parts of it need to be rewritten. Read the passage and then choose the best answer for each of the practice questions that follow. When you are choosing your answers, make sure you follow the requirements of standard written English.

Questions #1-4 are based on the following passage.

(1) There is one area in school where I have always struggled. (2) Essay writing. (3) When I have an idea that I think will be easy to write, I sit down at the computer. (4) I brainstorm, organize my thoughts, but the words always seem to be jumbled by me. (5) No one else in my family seems to have any of the same problems with essays. (6) Not even my older brother really understands what I am going through. (7) Everyone else in my family, as you might say, sees writing an essay as a simple process of putting thoughts down on paper.

(8) After school, my tutor does what he can to help me improve my writing. (9) He is skilled at explaining how to assemble thoughts into complete, well organized ideas. (10) He has helped me go over my essays, showing me how to really get to the core of my meaning without meandering and losing focus. (11) He even gives me writing exercises that I can work on between meetings. (12) We meet twice a week.

(13) Although I have not mastered the English essay, my skills have improved. (14) I can organize my thoughts into paragraphs now. (15) I can make my main point understood. (16) I can even, sometimes, write something that can touch and inspire someone. (17) To me, that is a powerful ability, and one that has not come easily. (18) Because I have had to work at it, I understand the true value of writing.

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Question 1
What is the most efficient way to properly revise sentences 1 and 2 (reproduced below)?

There is one area in school where I have always struggled. Essay writing.

There is one area in school where I have always struggled and essay writing.
There is one area in school where I have always had to struggle with essay writing.
There is one area in school where I have always had to struggle: essay writing.
There is one area in school where I have always had to struggle, that is essay writing.
I always have had to struggle in one area of school in spite of my essay writing.
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Sentence 2 is not a sentence, but a sentence fragment. It has to be joined to Sentence 1 in a way that illustrates their logical connection. A colon succinctly shows the relationship between the two sentences. “Essay writing” is the area the author has always had to struggle with.
Question 2
How should sentence 4 (reproduced below) be rewritten?

I brainstorm, organize my thoughts, but the words always seem to be jumbled by me.

(As it is now)
Brainstorming, I will organize my thoughts, but then the words always seem to be jumbled by me.
While I brainstorm and organize my thoughts, I seem to be jumbling the words.
I brainstormed and organized my thoughts, but my words always seemed to be jumbled.
I brainstorm and organize my thoughts, but I always seem to jumble the words.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). The sentence is awkward as written because of the use of passive voice, and needs to be changed. Passive voice puts the object of the sentence first. Active construction: She kicked the ball. Passive construction: The ball was kicked by her. Active construction is usually shorter and more clear, and almost always preferred by the SAT. Choice (E) is well organized and clearly phrased. The conjunction “but” conveys the relationship between the first independent clause and the second.
Question 3
In sentence 7, what is the best substitute for the phrase "as you might say?"

as far as I can tell
in addition
my mother, for example
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). “As you might say” doesn't really go with the passage. It refers to spoken English, implying that something “folksy” and highly idiomatic is about to be quoted in the essay. Also, there is no reason for the author to switch to the second person "you." This idiom should be replaced by something more directly related to the essay. “As far as I can tell” implies that, although the author does not know how everyone else in the family “sees writing,” he is sharing this information as he can best guess.
Question 4
In the second paragraph, which sentence could most easily be omitted?

Sentence 9
Sentence 10
Sentence 11
Sentence 12
No sentence should be omitted.
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). A sentence that does not develop the main idea of the paragraph weakens the paragraph as a whole. Sentence 12 is not directly related to the rest of the paragraph, and therefore should be cut. The fact that they “meet twice a week” does not have that much to do with the writing skills the tutor has, and how he has used those skills to help the author improve his writing.
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