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Sat writing practice questions improving sentences

May 16, 2018

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. Eleanor Roosevelt

The most common type of questions on the Writing section is called “Improving Sentences”. You probably know these guys: they are the questions in which there is an underlined part of a sentence and you have to figure out which of the five answer choices represents an improvement over the original sentence.

Known to few outside of Africa, the Comoros islands are a series of three islands nestled in the Indian Ocean, which are home to 4.5 million inhabitants, mostly Muslim.

(A) which are home to 4.5 million inhabitants, mostly Muslim

(B)  and they have mostly Muslim inhabitants of which there are 4.5 million

(C) home to 4.5 million inhabitants, most of whom are Muslim

(D) they are home to 4.5 million inhabitants, most of which are Muslim

(E) of which the 4.5 million inhabitants many of them are mostly Muslim

Below are some important points to keep in mind when dealing with Improving Sentences.

#1) The underlined part is always the same as (A)

As you can see from the example above, answer (A) is the exact same as the underlined part in the sentence. This will always be the case for every single Improving the Sentence question. So save yourself time—if the underlined part is clearly wrong, eliminate (A) without reading the answer choice.

#2) The underlined part can sometimes be correct

Just because there is a line under the text in the sentence does not mean that the underlined part is automatically wrong. Sometimes, the sentence is free of any errors. If that’s the case, mark answer (A).

#3) There is an entire section devoted to Improving the Sentences

In the 35-question writing section, the first eleven questions you see will be Improving the Sentences. However, you will have an entire section—which will always be section 10, the very last section on the test. This section will consist of fourteen questions, giving you a whopping total of 25 Improving the Sentence questions. The takeaway? You should learn to become very good at these early on. That way, you’ll have more time for the rest of the long writing section.

#4) One mistake makes the entire answer choice wrong

A good way to get quick at these question types is to spot a grammatical error in an answer choice. To do this you will often want to skim the answer choices instead of reading them word for word. Also, you might want to identify what is wrong with the original sentence, so you can eliminate those answer choices with similar issues.

And in case you’re not positive about the example question above, the answer is (C) 🙂

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For many test-takers, these are the toughest questions in the Writing Section. You have five different versions of a sentence, each one slightly tweaked, but all sounding the same after you’ve read each one. This is the wrong strategy, but one that many test-takers automatically resort to: they read each sentence in its entirety! This is not only time-consuming, but frustrating because it gets you lost in a jumble of words.

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