SAT Writing & Language Practice Test 1

Directions: Each SAT Writing passage is followed by 11 questions. Read the passage and select the answer to each question that is most effective in improving the quality of the writing or in making the passage conform to the standard conventions of English.

Questions 1-11 are based on the following passage.

The Prince and the Pauper

In the ancient city of London, on a certain autumn day in the second quarter of the sixteenth century, a boy was born to a poor family of the name of Canty, who did not want him. On the same day another English child was born to a rich family  1  with the name of Tudor, who did want him. All England wanted him too. England  2  did so long for him, and hoped for him, and prayed God for him, that, now that he was really come, the people went nearly mad for joy. Mere acquaintances hugged and kissed each other and cried. Everybody took a holiday, and high and low, rich and poor, feasted and danced and  3  sang, and got very mellow; and they kept this up for days and nights together. By day, London was a sight to see, with gay banners waving from every balcony and housetop, and splendid pageants marching along. By night, it was  4  a sight to see, with its great bonfires at every corner, and its troops of revelers making merry around them. There was no talk in all England but of the new baby, Edward Tudor, Prince of Wales, who lay lapped in silks and satins, unconscious of all this fuss, and not knowing that great lords and ladies were tending him and watching over him—and not caring, either. But there was no talk about the other baby, Tom Canty, lapped in his poor rags, except among the family of paupers whom he had just come to trouble with his presence.

 5  Let us review the history of London. London was fifteen hundred years old, and was a great town—for that day. It had a hundred thousand inhabitants—some think double as many. The streets were very narrow, and crooked, and dirty, especially in the part where Tom Canty lived, which was not far from London Bridge. The houses were of wood, with the second story  6  projected over the first, and the third sticking its elbows out beyond the second. The higher the houses grew, the broader they grew. They were skeletons of strong criss-cross beams, with solid material between, coated with plaster. The beams were painted red or blue or black, according to the owner’s taste, and this gave the houses a very picturesque look. The windows were small, glazed with little diamond-shaped panes, and  7  they opened outward, on hinges, like a door.

The house which Tom’s father lived in was up a foul little pocket called Offal Court, out of Pudding Lane. It was small, decayed, and rickety, but it was packed full of wretchedly poor families.  8  The tribe of Canty occupied a room on the third floor. The mother and father had a sort of bedstead in the corner; but Tom, his grandmother, and his two sisters, Bet and Nan, were not restricted—they had all the floor to themselves, and might sleep where they chose. There were the remains of a blanket or two, and some bundles of ancient and dirty straw, but  9  these could not rightly be called beds, for they were not organized; they were kicked into a general pile, mornings, and selections made from the mass at night, for service.

 10  In addition, little Tom was not unhappy. He had a hard time of it, but did not know it. No, Tom’s life went along well enough, especially in summer. He only begged just enough to save himself, for the laws against mendicancy were stringent, and the penalties heavy; so he put in a good deal of his time listening to good Father Andrew’s charming old tales and legends about  11  giants and fairies, dwarfs and genii, and enchanted castles, and also gorgeous kings and princes. His head grew to be full of these wonderful things, and many a night as he lay in the dark on his scant and offensive straw, tired, hungry, and smarting from a thrashing, he unleashed his imagination and soon forgot his aches and pains in delicious picturings to himself of the charmed life of a petted prince in a regal palace. One desire came in time to haunt him day and night: it was to see a real prince, with his own eyes.

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Question 1
 1  Which choice best maintains the sentence structure already established in the paragraph?

A
NO CHANGE
B
of the name of Tudor
C
named Tudor
D
whose name was Tudor
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The passage is comparing the birth of two boys from different families. The first boy’s birth is announced with the phrase, “born to a poor family of the name of Canty.” In order to maintain parallelism, the second birth should be described with the same structure: substituting “rich” for “poor” and “Tudor” for “Canty.” Answer choice (B) does this.
Question 2
 2  

A
NO CHANGE
B
was longing
C
were longing so
D
had so longed
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). In this question, the proper verb tense to clarify the meaning of the sentence must be selected. Examine the verbs used in the sentence:

England did so long for him, and hoped for him, and prayed God for him, that, now that he was really come, the people went nearly mad for joy.

There are two time periods referenced: the distant past and the more recent past (“now”). The more recent past necessitates the simple past tense verbs “was” and “went.” To indicate events that took place further back in the past, the past perfect tense is needed: “had longed…had hoped…had prayed.” Answer choice (D) is the only past perfect construction.
Question 3
 3  

A
NO CHANGE
B
sung
C
were singing
D
did sing
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Verbs on the SAT need to be in parallel structure. This sentence provides three verbs: “feasted,” “danced,” and “sang.” Feasted and danced are both in the past tense, so the third verb should also be in the past tense. As written, “sang” is correct because it parallels the past tense of the other verbs. Notice how “They sang.” would be a complete sentence, just like “They feasted.” and “They danced.”
Question 4
 4  Which of the following constructions produces the most contextually logical sentence?

A
NO CHANGE
B
again a sight to see
C
a sight worth seeing
D
a sight also worth seeing
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Notice that earlier in the paragraph, the author states that “London was a sight to see.” This idea is reiterated in the underlined portion, so the use of the word “again” makes the most sense in context. The other choices do not exhibit parallel structure (“seeing” rather than “see”) and do not produce the most logical construction.
Question 5
 5  Which choice provides the most effective transition from the first to the second and third paragraphs?

A
NO CHANGE
B
Let us consider the story of Tom’s parents.
C
Let us skip a number of years.
D
DELETE the underlined portion.
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The first paragraph introduces the births of the two boys and describes London. The second paragraph describes the place where Tom grew up, and the third paragraph describes his childhood. Therefore, the sentence, “Let us skip a number of years,” makes sense because the passage quickly moves from Tom’s birth to his young boyhood. The paragraph does describe London, but does not give a complete history, and Tom’s parents are not discussed in sufficient detail.
Question 6
 6  

A
NO CHANGE
B
projected over the first, and the third sticked
C
projecting over the first, and the third sticking
D
was projecting over the first, and third sticking
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The two verbs here need to be in parallel form. Notice the parallel structure that is set up with the words “the second” and “the third.” The verbs that follow each noun should be in the same tense. In this option, they are both participles (ending in –ing). Choice (B) maintains parallelism, but “sticked” is not the past tense form of “stick;” The past tense form of “stick” is “stuck.” Answer choice (D) introduces an unnecessary passive voice.
Question 7
 7  

A
NO CHANGE
B
they opened outward, on hinges, like doors.
C
it opened outward, on hinges, like a door.
D
it opened outward, on hinges, like doors.
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Any time a question includes a pronoun, determine the antecedent to which it refers. In this case, “they” refers to the plural “windows.” Additionally, as a result of parallel construction, a plural noun should only be compared with another plural noun. In this case, the simile used should be “like doors” instead of “like a door,” in order to avoid the comparison of a plural noun with a singular noun.
Question 8
 8  

A
NO CHANGE
B
Cantys’ tribe
C
Canties tribe
D
Canty’s tribe
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). On the SAT, students must recognize and correct inappropriate uses of possessive nouns and pronouns as well as differentiate between possessive and plural forms. Students must also recognize and correct cases in which unnecessary punctuation appears in a sentence. The original construction here is awkward and unnecessarily wordy. Answer choice (D) offers a more concise construction and uses correct possessive form. Because Canty is a singular entity, the possessive form is constructed by adding “’s.” Answer choice (B) represents the possessive form of a plural noun, and answer choice (C) represents the plural form of the word.
Question 9
 9  

A
NO CHANGE
B
these could not rightly be called beds, for they were not organized, they were kicked into a general pile
C
for they were not organized, these could not rightly be called beds; as they were kicked into a general pile
D
they could not be called, rightly, beds, because they were not organized, they were kicked into a general pile
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). On the SAT, students must recognize the correct punctuation between independent clauses, and avoid answer choices that contain run-on sentences or sentence fragments. Here, two independent clauses: “these could not right be called beds, for they were not organized” and “they were kicked into a general pile” are correctly separated by a semicolon. Each clause has a subject, predicate verb, and expresses a complete thought. The other options all create run-on sentences.
Question 10
 10  Which of the following provides the most effective transition into the final paragraph?

A
NO CHANGE
B
That is to say
C
Furthermore
D
Yet
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The previous paragraph discusses the difficulty in Tom’s upbringing and the poverty in which he and his family lived. This paragraph, in contrast, discusses some positive aspects of his childhood, stating that he “lived well enough;” a keyword that indicates this paragraph’s shift is necessary. The word “yet” properly serves this function. Answer choices (A), (B) and (C) all incorrectly describe a continuation of a similar idea instead of a suitable contrast.
Question 11
 11  

A
NO CHANGE
B
giants, fairies, dwarfs, genii, and enchanted castles, and gorgeous kings and princes.
C
giants and fairies, dwarfs and genii, enchanted castles, and gorgeous kings and princes.
D
giants and fairies, and dwarfs and genii, and enchanted castles with gorgeous kings and princes.
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). On the SAT, students must improve the economy of expression. The correct answer must not only be grammatically correct, but should be clear and concise, not wordy and redundant. In answer choice (A), the phrase “and also” is redundant. The word “and” encompasses the meaning of the word “also;” both words are not required to convey the meaning of this sentence. Answer choice (B) alters the meaning of the sentence, since it places equal weight on “giants, fairies, dwarfs, and genii.” The meaning is lost that these are “categories” of legends: giants coupled with fairies, and dwarfs coupled with genii. Answer choice (D) unnecessarily repeats the word “and” while lacking the conciseness of answer choice (C).
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