SAT Writing & Language Practice Test 2

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.

Ulysses S. Grant: An Unusual Leader

On March 10th, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln  1  signed a brief document officially promoting then-Major General Ulysses S. Grant to the rank of lieutenant general of the U.S. Army, tasking the future president with the job  2  of being the leader of all the Union troops against the Confederate Army.

The rank of lieutenant general  3  wasn’t officially in use since  4  1798, at that time, President John Adams assigned the post to former President George Washington, in anticipation of a possible French invasion of the United States. One of Grant’s predecessors in the Civil War, Winfield Scott, had briefly earned the rank, but the appointment was only temporary  5  — really, use of the rank had been suspended after George Washington’s death in 1799.

In 1862, Lincoln asked Congress to revive the rank of lieutenant general in order to distinguish between the general in charge of all Union forces and other generals of equal rank who served under him in the field. Congress also wanted to reinstate the rank of lieutenant general, but only if Lincoln gave the rank to Grant.  6  The seeming incongruity that a lieutenant general outranks a major general is due to the derivation of the latter rank from sergeant major general, which was also subordinate to lieutenant general.

Lincoln preferred to promote then-Commanding General Henry Wagner Halleck to lead the Union  7  Army, which had been plagued by a string of ineffective leaders and terrible losses in battle. He was reluctant to promote Grant and risk boosting the general’s popularity; at the time Washington was abuzz with rumors that  8  much northern senators were considering nominating Grant instead of Lincoln at the 1864 Republican National Convention. After Grant publicly dismissed the idea of running for the presidency, Lincoln submitted to Congress’ choice and agreed to give Grant the revived rank. As lieutenant general of the U.S. Army, Grant was answerable only to Lincoln. Well-respected by troops and civilians, Grant earned Lincoln’s trust and went on to force the South’s surrender in 1865.

 9  A primary focus of Grant’s administration was Reconstruction, and he worked to reconcile the North and South while also attempting to protect the civil rights of newly freed black slaves. While Grant was personally honest, some of his associates  10  was corrupt and his administration were tarnished by various scandals. After retiring, Grant invested in a brokerage firm that went bankrupt, costing him his life savings. He spent his final days penning his memoirs, which were published the year he died and proved a critical and financial success.

Although Grant enjoyed a distinguished career in the military, he wrote that he never consciously chose the life of a soldier. As a student at West Point, he never expected to graduate, let alone lead the entire U.S. Army in a desperate but ultimately successful struggle to preserve the Union. In late 1884, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Grant died at age 63 on July 23, 1885, in Mount McGregor, New York, in the Adirondack Mountains,  11  which he and his family were spending the summer. The former president was laid to rest in a tomb in New York City’s Riverside Park.

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Question 1
 1  

A
NO CHANGE
B
was signing
C
were signing
D
had signed
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). In the context of the sentence, the singular simple past tense form of “to sign” is correct. Answer choice (B) correctly assigns the singular “was” to the singular noun “Lincoln,” but incorrectly uses the past progressive form “signing,” which identifies a continuous event. The plural verb “were” in answer choice (C) is incorrect, as is the past perfect tense “had signed,” since it is used to indicate a past event that occurred prior to the referenced event.
Question 2
 2  

A
NO CHANGE
B
of leading all of the troops that were Union
C
of leading all Union troops
D
of Union leader for all of the troops
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The original construction is unnecessarily wordy. On the SAT, ensure that sentences are both grammatically correct, and free of awkward style errors such as wordiness and redundancy. Answer choice (C) contains the fewest words of the possible constructions and does not introduce any additional grammatical errors. For reference, the correct answer in writing correction questions will rarely contain the word “being.”
Question 3
 3  

A
NO CHANGE
B
were not in use, officially,
C
was not in use, officially,
D
had not officially been used
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The date “1798” is a fixed point in time earlier than the time period discussed: 1864. Therefore, it is appropriate to use the past perfect verb tense in this sentence. The correct construction is “had been” for the past perfect tense. Only answer choice (D) correctly conjugates the verb.
Question 4
 4  

A
NO CHANGE
B
1798; at that time
C
1798, yet at that time
D
1798; and, at that time
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Semicolons can be used on the SAT to separate two independent clauses. Here, the phrase “at that time” introduces a new, complete thought, so it cannot be separated from the preceding sentence by only a comma. As written, this is a run-on sentence. Answer choice (B) corrects the error with a semicolon and does not introduce additional errors. Answer choice (D) is incorrect because it improperly includes both a semicolon and the coordinating conjunction ‘and.’
Question 5
 5  The author of the passage is debating whether or not to delete the underlined portion. What should the author do?

A
Keep it, because it adds vital information to understanding the character of Ulysses S. Grant.
B
Keep it, because it adds necessary background information to support the ideas in the paragraph.
C
Delete it, because it introduces information not relevant to the passage as a whole.
D
Delete it, because it does not relate to the sentence immediately preceding it.
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). This portion of the paragraph repeats previously stated information: the rank had been reinstated after being dormant for some time. It is not required for the passage’s overall thrust, and since it lacks relevance to the discussion of Ulysses S. Grant, it should be omitted.
Question 6
 6  

A
NO CHANGE
B
Lincoln had other ideas.
C
The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages, where the title of lieutenant general was held by the second in command on the battlefield.
D
OMIT the underlined portion.
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Since this is the last sentence of this paragraph, look for an option that offers a logical transition to the next paragraph. Because the next paragraph presents Lincoln’s contrasting ideas of what should be done, answer choice (B) best establishes the transition between the paragraphs. The other options do not specifically construct the idea of contrast between the two paragraphs. If the underlined portion was omitted, the transition would be missing.
Question 7
 7  

A
NO CHANGE
B
Army which,
C
Army that
D
Army, that
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The sentence presents an independent clause describing Lincoln’s actions and then includes a dependent clause providing additional information regarding the Union Army. Dependent clauses should be separated from independent clauses by commas. Commas must be placed after the noun being modified or described, and before the dependent clause. In this case, the information contained in the dependent clause is nonessential, and consequently “which,” rather than “that,” is the correct modifier.
Question 8
 8  

A
NO CHANGE
B
less
C
fewer
D
many
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The word “much” is an uncountable modifier, and can only be used with items that are not countable. “Senators” is countable, so the word “many” is correct in this context. Since everyone was “abuzz,” it is most logical to conclude that “more,” or “many” of the senators were considering Grant, not “less” or “fewer.”
Question 9
 9  Which of the following sentences should be inserted at the beginning of this paragraph?

A
During the war Grant became a national hero.
B
The Republicans nominated him for president in 1868.
C
In 1869, Grant became the 18th president of the United States.
D
The first scandal to taint the Grant administration in 1869 was Black Friday, also known as the Gold Panic.
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The next paragraph discusses Grant’s presidency and his “administration.” Look for a sentence that provides an appropriate introduction to that subject matter. Since Grant’s election campaign is not discussed, answer choice (B) would not be as effective at transitioning into the paragraph as answer choice (C). Additionally, answer choice (B) incorporates the pronoun ‘him’ without clarifying its antecedent. Answer choice (A), although true, does not align with the information provided in the paragraph. Answer choice (D) does not relate to the passage.
Question 10
 10  

A
NO CHANGE
B
were corrupt and his administration was
C
were corrupt and his administration were
D
was corrupt and his administration was
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). In this case, the underlined portion “was corrupt” is referencing “some of [Grant’s] associates.” The word “associates” is plural, and as a result, the matching verb should also be plural. Answer choices (B) and (C) address this issue. However, only answer choice (B) correctly matches the singular noun “administration’ with the appropriate singular verb “was.”
Question 11
 11  

A
NO CHANGE
B
with
C
when
D
where
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The word “where” is used to describe physical locations, and should be used in this instance to replace “Adirondack Mountains.” The word “when” can only be used to describe time. Because the “which” in answer choice (A) lacks an appropriate preposition, it is incorrect. Answer choice (B) introduces an awkward transition.
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