SAT Writing & Language Practice Test 3

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.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingall O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born at 1 Merrion Square in Dublin, on October 16th, 1854. Wilde was the second son of Sir William Robert Wilde, a celebrated ear and eye surgeon. Wilde’s father was also the President of the Irish Academy.  1  He had a mother who was Jane Francesca.  2  She became famous in literary circles under the pen names of ‘Speranza’ and ‘John Fenshawe Ellis.’

Oscar Wilde received his early education at Portora Royal  3  School, which he entered in 1864 at the age of nine years, and he later won a scholarship to study at Trinity College, Dublin, to study Classics.

In 1874 he obtained another scholarship, this time to Oxford University, where he continued his academic successes and won numerous awards. After graduating, he gave lectures on Art and Classics, and continued to write poetry.  4  In 1884, Oscar Wilde married Constance Lloyd, and gave birth to two sons.

During the next five or six years, articles from his pen appeared in several major magazines. In July, 1890, The Picture of Dorian Gray  5  had been published in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. It was the only novel Oscar Wilde ever wrote, and was published in book form along with seven additional chapters in the following year,  6  being one of the most remarkable books in the English language.

 7  With the production of Lady Windermere’s Fan early in 1892, he was at once recognized as a dramatist of the first rank. This was followed a year later by A Woman of No Importance, and after brief intervals by An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest.

 8  Thus, Oscar Wilde was arrested for “indecency” in 1895, as homosexuality was considered a crime in England at that time, and on Saturday, May 25th, 1895, he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with hard labor.

After his release from prison in 1897, he moved to France and wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol under the nom de plume ‘C.3.3.,’ Oscar Wilde’s prison number. Of this poem a reviewer said, “This is  9  a simple, a poignant, a great ballad, one of the greatest in the English language.”

Wilde passed away on the afternoon of November 30th, 1900,  10  in poverty and almost alone. The little hotel in Paris — Hotel d’Alsace, 13 rue des Beaux Arts, — where he died,  11  has become a place of pilgrimage from all parts of the world for those who admire the genius of Oscar Wilde.

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

A
NO CHANGE
B
Wilde’s mother
C
His mother
D
And he had a mother,
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The preceding sentences all start with Oscar Wilde’s name. In order to maintain the sentence structure already established, the sentence in question should also begin with Wilde’s name, especially to avoid the ambiguity of the singular pronoun ‘he,’ arising from the mention of Wilde’s father.
Question 2
 2  Which choice provides the most effective transition from the first paragraph to the second paragraph?

A
NO CHANGE
B
Oscar Wilde has inherited his mother’s intelligence and writing ability.
C
Though she did not receive as much education as her son would go on to receive, Wilde’s mother was an accomplished writer.
D
DELETE the underlined portion.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The first paragraph introduces the subject of the passage, Oscar Wilde, and provides background information relating to him. The underlined portion provides information relating specifically to Wilde’s mother. The following paragraph returns to Wilde and his educational background. Because Wilde, and not his mother, is the subject of the passage, in order to most smoothly transition between the two paragraphs, it would be best to remove the overly specific information relating to Wilde’s mother’s pen name.
Question 3
 3  

A
NO CHANGE
B
School that
C
School, so
D
School; which
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The relative pronoun “which” is correctly set apart from the rest of the sentence with a comma as it introduces non-essential information specifically relating to the noun preceding the comma. Answer choices (B) and (C) create illogical meanings, while the semicolon in answer choice (D) improperly combines the clauses. Semicolons should only be used to join two related independent clauses, or to separate a list of items, specifically when the items of the list are separated by commas.
Question 4
 4  Based on the context, which construction most logically concludes the paragraph?

A
NO CHANGE
B
In 1884, Oscar Wilde married Constance Lloyd, and had two sons.
C
Constance Lloyd married Oscar Wilde in 1884, and had two sons.
D
Oscar Wilde married Constance Lloyd in 1884, and she gave birth to two sons.
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The construction of the original sentence illogically implies that Oscar Wilde gave birth to his children. Answer choice (B) is incorrect for the same reason. Answer choice (C) awkwardly shifts the focus of the sentence from Wilde to his wife. Answer choice (D) correctly places Wilde as the subject of the sentence, while using the feminine pronoun “she” to make it clear that it was not Wilde who gave birth.
Question 5
 5  

A
NO CHANGE
B
was published
C
were published
D
got itself published
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The book is singular, so a singular verb is necessary to match it; this eliminates choice (C) as ‘were’ is a plural verb. The past perfect tense “had” should only be used to indicate an event that happened BEFORE another past tense event. (i.e. “I went to the movies, but I had gone to the store.”) This tense is unnecessary in this sentence because the only event discussed is the publication of the book. Answer choice (D) is unnecessarily wordy, and the word “itself” illogically implies that the book did the publishing not the magazine company.
Question 6
 6  

A
NO CHANGE
B
and was
C
and is
D
but is
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). This question tests your ability to recognize passive voice and select the appropriate transition word. “Being” is a passive construction, and is rarely preferred over an active voice construction. A present-verb tense, such as “is,” would create a more active construction. We do not need the past tense “was” since the book is still considered “one of the most remarkable books in the English language.” The transition word “but” in answer choice (D) indicates a contrast, however no contrasting idea is presented in the clause.
Question 7
 7  Which of the following sentences, if inserted, would provide the best transition into paragraph five?

A
Wilde was a voracious writer, but he also enjoyed going to see plays.
B
Not only did Wilde enjoy literary success, he also soon became a successful playwright.
C
Oscar Wilde had ideas for other novels, but he was too busy with his other writings to attempt another one.
D
The Picture of Dorian Gray is about a conceited young man, whose inner ugliness becomes etched on a portrait hidden in his attic.
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Paragraph five shifts the focus of the passage to Oscar Wilde’s many successful plays. Because this paragraph introduces a new, but related topic, the best transition will reference the previous paragraph while touching on the topic of the upcoming paragraph. Answer choice (A) mentions plays, but only discusses Wilde as a spectator and not a playwright. Answer choice (C) mentions “other writings,” but does not specifically discuss plays, whereas choice (D) continues to discuss the topic in the previous paragraph, rather than provide an appropriate transition to the next paragraph.
Question 8
 8  

A
NO CHANGE
B
Therefore
C
Allegedly
D
Sadly
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). This paragraph departs from Wilde’s work as a playwright and introduces the unrelated topic of his prison sentence. As the two paragraphs are unrelated, a transition word that does not reference the previous paragraph but instead describes the topic of the new paragraph should be used. Given the nature of Wilde’s arrest, choice (D) best sets up this paragraph. The words “thus” and “therefore” indicate a summation or a conclusion based on preceding evidence, which is not appropriate given the shift in topic. The word “allegedly” indicates uncertainty over whether Wilde was arrested, but later sentences describe his incarceration and release from prison thus clarifying the issue.
Question 9
 9  

A
NO CHANGE
B
a simple, a poignant, great ballad,
C
simple, a poignant, a great ballad,
D
a simple, poignant, and great ballad
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The SAT rewards clarity and concision, and the repeated article “a” in front of each adjective is unnecessary. Answer choices (B) and (C) include the unnecessary articles, but also lack parallel construction since not all items in the list have an “a” preceding the adjective. Answer choice (D) correctly gives three parallel adjectives with a single preceding article (“a”) while joining the final adjectives with the clear coordinating conjunction “and.”
Question 10
 10  Should the underlined portion be deleted?

A
Yes, because it does not describe Wilde’s cause of death.
B
Yes, because it has nothing to do with Wilde’s literary output.
C
No, because it provides an emotional context for Wilde’s death.
D
No, because it gives information about the Hotel d'Alsace.
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The underlined portion invites the reader to feel sympathy for Oscar Wilde, and contextualizes his downfall from a famous writer to a penniless outcast. Answer choice (D) is incorrect because this phrase does not offer any specific information on the Hotel d'Alsace; that information comes in the next sentence.
Question 11
 11  

A
NO CHANGE
B
was becoming
C
did become
D
had become
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The original verb tense, “has become” is correct, since it indicates that since Oscar Wilde’s death, the location remains important to Wilde’s admirers. Answer choices (B) and (D) illogically imply that the hotel was a place of pilgrimage even before Wilde’s death. Answer choice (C) is incorrect since the verb “did become” implies that it is no longer still a place of pilgrimage. The word “did” indicates that the event of the verb ended sometime in the past, which is not correct in this context.
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