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, so this sentence should also begin with Wilde’s name to continue the same sentence pattern.
Question 2
 2  Which choice results in the most effective transition to the information that follows in the next 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 achieve, Wilde’s mother was an accomplished writer.
D
DELETE the underlined portion.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). This sentence contains information about Oscar Wilde’s mother. Since Wilde himself if the focus of the passage, we do not need this sentence to make a transition into the next paragraph.
Question 3
 3  

A
NO CHANGE
B
School that
C
School, so
D
School; which
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). There is nothing wrong with the original construction. The relative pronoun “which” is correctly set apart from the rest of the sentence with a comma, since it introduces non-essential information about Oscar Wilde. Answer choices (B) and (C) create illogical meanings, while the semicolon in answer choice (D) would improperly combine the clauses. Semicolons should only be used when the clauses on either side of the semicolon could stand on their own as a complete sentence.
Question 4
 4  Which of the following constructions makes the most logical sense in context?

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 implies that Oscar Wilde gave birth to his children, which doesn’t make logical sense. Answer choice (B) is incorrect for the same reason. Answer choice (C) makes Wilde’s wife the focus of the sentence, but since she has not yet been introduced into the passage, this is an awkward construction. 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
did get itself published
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The book is singular, so we need a singular verb to match it. This eliminated choice (C). 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.”) We do not need this tense, however, in this sentence, since the only event discussed in the publication of the book. Answer choice (D) is unnecessarily wordy, and the word “itself” implies the book did the publishing, which is illogical.
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 is testing your ability to recognize passive voice and select the appropriate transition word. “Being” is a passive construction, and not preferable on the SAT. A present-verb tense, such as “is” would be a more active construction. We do not need the past tense “was” since the book is still considered today to be “one of the most remarkable books in the English language.” The transition word “but” in answer choice (D) would indicate a contrast, but there is not contrasting idea presented in this clause.
Question 7
 7  Which of the following sentences, if inserted, would provide the best transition into the next paragraph?

A
Wilde was a voracious writer, but he also enjoyed going to see plays.
B
Not only did Wilde enjoy literary success, but 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). The next paragraph switches to discuss Oscar Wilde’s many successful plays. Since this is a new idea, the transition sentence should mention something about Wilde’s writings for the theatre. Answer choice (A) mentions plays, but only discusses Wilde as a spectator and not a playwright. Answer choice (C) does mention “other writings” but does not specifically discuss plays, whereas choice (D) continues to discuss the topic in the previous paragraph, rather than give 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). The words “thus” and “therefore” indicate a summation or a conclusion based on preceding evidence. However, the information about Wilde’s arrest seems to come out of the blue in this passage. We need a transition word that shows this is a new idea. The word “allegedly” indicates uncertainty over whether Wilde was arrested, but he know he was as later sentences describe his incarceration and release from prison. The best transition word for this unfortunate series of events is “sadly.”
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 great adjective is unnecessary. Answer choices (B) and (C) are not parallel, since 2 out of the 3 items in the list have the “a” in front. Answer choice (D) gives us three parallel adjectives, with only one article (“a”) and the clear coordinating conjunction “and.”
Question 10
 10  Should the underlined portion be deleted?

A
Yes, because it does not describe what he died of.
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 gives a larger picture of his downfall from famous writer to 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 place has gained in importance, and is still important to this day. Answer choices (B) and (D) imply that is was a place of pilgrimage even before Wilde’s death, which does not make logical sense. Answer choice (C) is incorrect since the verb “did become” implies that it is no longer still a place of pilgrimage. The word “did” tells us that the event of the verb completed sometime in the past, but that is not correct in context. Today, the Hotel d’Alsace is still visited by fans of Oscar Wilde.
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