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Writing

Deciphering Meaning from Reading Passages on the SAT and ACT

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Overview Questions about longer reading passages on the SAT, ACT, and other standardized tests tap students’ abilities to find and use meaning from what they read.  These skills are important to college success, as students are expected to read and understand textbooks in unfamiliar subjects.  Students are expected to extract the main ideas from what…

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Recognizing Nonstandard English: Diction Errors

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Overview Diction errors are types of errors when the incorrect word is used in a nonstandard way.  Some word usage is colloquial: out of place in a formal essay.  Other errors in word usage occur when similar words are used in the incorrect context. What about Lots or A Lot? The use of lots or…

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Appropriate Sentence Construction for the SAT and ACT

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Overview: Some grammar questions on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT ask students to apply the rules they have learned about sentence construction.  Sentence prompts may include dangling clauses, free-standing phrases, and run-on sentences.  The task is to choose the rewritten sentence that makes the most sense without changing the author’s intended meaning.…

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Review of Nonstandard English: Idiom Errors

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Overview:  What Do the SAT and ACT Test in English Grammar? The SAT and ACT test for formal, academic, standard English, which is not necessarily the same way that students speak or write.  Many errors are especially insidious because the correct form and the incorrect form are very close.  However, some idiom errors involve words…

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Proofreading for Parallel Structure on the SAT and ACT

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Overview:  What Is Parallel Structure? Parallel structure in writing is a refinement technique in which verbs, subjects, and clauses are made similar.  It is tested on the ACT and SAT in grammar questions, as it is a feature that adds impact to writing.  Often, phrases that mean the same may not be parallel. Checklist:  Are…

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Grammar Review : Choosing the Correct Pronoun on the ACT and SAT

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Overview:  What Are Pronouns? Pronouns are word forms that substitute for nouns.  They differ from nouns in that the correct pronoun form depends on the function it takes within the sentence.  Nouns in English only change form when they are possessive.  Otherwise, the same word forms are used whether they are the subject or the…

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Using Prepositions and Conjunctions on the SAT and ACT

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Overview:  Why Prepositions and Conjunctions? Both prepositions and conjunctions show relationships between words within sentences.  It is important to use both types correctly, as changing either the preposition in a prepositional phrase or the conjunction can change the direction and meaning of the sentence.  Although they may be overlooked during proofreading, the correct preposition or…

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Recognizing Appropriate Sentence Construction in Reading Passages

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Overview:  Why Sentence Construction? Some test questions in the English/grammar portion of the SAT, ACT, and other tests ask students to read a passage and find the best way to rewrite it, whether by combining sentences or correcting sentence fragments.  The reason questions like this are asked is to test students’ ability to apply their…

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Is there Really No Error in the Sentence?

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Overview:  No Error One of the ways English and grammar skills are tested on the SAT, ACT, and other standardized tests is to ask students to decide if a sentence has errors.  Students are then asked to choose from alternatives, including the trap for the unwary, “No error”.  It is a similar trap to its…

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Proofreading for Errors in Capitalization, Spelling, and Punctuation

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Overview:  What Are Mechanical Errors? Although many proofreading questions on the English portion of the SAT and ACT are to catch errors in standard English usage, some questions involve errors in capitalization, spelling, and punctuation.  These types of mechanical errors are also common in everyday writing, such as classroom and test essays.  While many spelling…

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