The SAT Writing and Language Test-Consistency Questions

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CONSISTENCY QUESTIONS

Just as questions should be answered as precisely as possible, they should also be answered with information that is consistent with what's in the passage.

When answering consistency questions, keep this general rule in mind:

Writing and Language passages should be judged on what they do say, not on what they could say. When dealing with Style, Tone, and Focus, make sure to work with the words and phrases the passage has already used.

Let's look at two questions that deal with the idea of consistency.

[1] One need look no further than to the idea of the "traditional" family. [2] The shift, however, has yet to produce a substantive increase in how women, who are now nearly as likely to work as men, are paid. [3] In this idea, the father of the family earns the family wage 6 and gives the children his last name. [4] With such an idea bolstering what many consider to be the goal inherent in the "American dream," it is no wonder that women in the workplace should have a somewhat degraded position. [5] Shifting social and economic roles, however, have begun to change how people think about gender roles within the family.7

6. Which of the following choices would best complete the distinction described in this sentence and the paragraph as a whole?

A) NO CHANGE

B) while the mother tends to the children and the home.

C) though his interest in masculine things like sports may vary.

D) but will only be able to achieve a wage commensurate with his skills and education.

7. The best placement for sentence 2 would be

A) where it is now.

B) before sentence 1.

C) after sentence 4.

D) after sentence 5.

Here's How to Crack It

Let's look at question 6 first. In this case, the question tells us exactly what to look for: something that would complete the distinction in the sentence, a distinction made between what is expected of a man and a woman in a "traditional" family. Choices (A), (C), and (D) may be true in some definitions of what that "traditional" family is, but none of those answers fulfills the basic demands of the question. Only (B) does so by describing what is expected of a mother in contrast to what is expected of a father, as described earlier in the sentence.

Now, as for question 7, we need to find some very literal way to make sentence 2 consistent with the rest of the paragraph. Look for words and phrases that will link sentence 2 to other sentences. Remember, it's not what the passage could say; it's what the passage does say. Sentence 2, we should note, starts with the shift, thus clearly referring to a shift that has been mentioned before it. As such, sentence 2 belongs definitively after sentence 5, which discusses shifting social and economic roles.

As we have seen, these questions are not difficult, but they do require very specific things. Make sure you read the questions carefully and that you answer those questions as precisely and consistently as you can.

The same goes for charts and graphs on the Writing and Language Test. Don't let the strangeness of the charts throw you off! Just read the graphs with as much precision as you can and choose the most precise answers possible.

Let's have a look at one.

Even as women's roles in high-level positions, such as Congress, have increased almost five-fold since 1981, 8the pay that women receive relative to men has increased by only approximately 33%.

8. Which of the following choices gives information consistent with the graph?

A) NO CHANGE

B) women's wages have increased by over 80%.

C) the wages of women in Congress have decreased.

D) the efforts of women in Congress to raise wages have failed.

Here's How to Crack It

This question is asking for what agrees with the graph. From what we have seen, these questions are usually pretty straightforward. You don't have to do anything overly complex with the graphs, and that is certainly the case here.

It looks like "Women in Congress" goes up significantly where "Women's Pay" remains relatively consistent. The only choice that reflects that trend is (A). Choice (B) misreads the graph, and (C) and (D) can't be supported one way or the other. Choice (A) is therefore the best answer.

In general, graphs on the SAT Reading and Writing and Language Tests are very straightforward, and the fundamental question they ask is, "Can you read a graph?" These are easy points as long as you read the graphs carefully.

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