Tackling the Evidence Based Reading & Writing and Language Test on the New SAT

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The SAT test has 52 multiple choice questions in the reading section and 44 multiple choice questions in the writing section, which stresses on command of evidence, relevant words in context and informational graphics, a range of language skills, such as conformity to important conventions of standard written English, grammar, usage, and punctuation.

The basic aim of the test is to determine if students can demonstrate proficiency by revising and editing extended prose passages (sometimes associated with informational graphics) across a range of content areas, such as history, social studies, humanities, science and careers. A typical question in the New SAT is a relevant word in context question. The content of this question is to use the language effectively and precisely. The focus is to determine the most contextually appropriate word, in other words, which word makes the most sense in the given context. The four answer choices may have direct synonyms of the word; however, you must choose the answer which best fits the meaning in the context.

Let’s look at a typical SAT question:

As used in line 42, “engaged” most nearly means

  1. betrothed
  2. engrossed
  3. hired
  4. embattled

Context:we are fully engaged, like children absorbed in a game or the craftsmen of some place like Damascus.”

We can see that Choice A. means engaged or pledged to marry, but that is not how it is used in the context given. Choice C. is also not in context as hired means to engage the services of a person for a fee or to employ. Choice D. is to be involved or engaged in or be prepared for war, which is also out of the context. Hence, Choice B. is the most relevant answer because when you are engrossed in something you are so consumed by it that don’t notice anything else, just like the children absorbed in a game in the given context.

Another typical question in the New SAT involves Standard English Conventions. The content of this question involves conventions of usage particularly pronoun-antecedent agreement and subject-verb agreement. The focus is to maintain grammatical agreement between pronoun and antecedent and between subject and verb.

Let’s look at a typical question of this type from the New SAT:

Stoplight timing is coordinated to alleviate rush hour traffic jams in a congested downtown area. When anyone of these changes occur, it is likely the result of careful analysis conducted by transportation planners.”

  1. No Change
  2. occur, they are
  3. occurs, they are
  4. occurs, it is

The task here is to determine whether the underlined portion maintains agreement. In this example we can see that ‘it’ is a singular pronoun and its antecedent is anyone. Hence, we can get rid of the Choices B. and C. as they are plural. However, ‘anyone’ in the sentence above is a singular subject, and the verb occur should conjugate correctly with the singular subject. A singular verb ends in an ‘S ‘. So, Choice D. correctly maintains the subject verb agreement and between the pronoun and antecedent.

In order to tackle these kind of questions one must review conventions of grammar and usage, subject –verb and pronoun antecedent agreement. Many questions on the New SAT measure command of evidence. Some questions evaluate a student’s ability to revise a text to improve its development of information and ideas. Other questions ask a student to draw connections between text and graphics. For instance, to correct a contexts imprecise analysis of data presented in a graph. Therefore, it’s essential to brush up on these areas.

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