The SAT Writing and Language Test-Words and Punctuation in Reverse

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WORDS AND PUNCTUATION IN REVERSE

Many of the concepts we saw in the chapters on punctuation and words show up explicitly with questions, but usually there's some kind of twist.

Here's an example.

Most people are familiar with the idea of a gender pay 1gap. What most people don't realize is just how persistent that pay gap has been.

1. Which of the following alternatives to the underlined portion would NOT be acceptable?

A) gap; what

B) gap: what

C) gap, however,

D) gap—what

Here's How to Crack It

First and foremost, it's important to notice the question. This one is asking for the alternative that would NOT be acceptable, so we'll need to find an answer that doesn't work.

In the meantime, let's go through the steps. What's changing in the answer choices? STOP, HALF-STOP, and GO punctuation. Use the Vertical Line Test between the words gap and what. The idea before the line, Most people are familiar with the idea of a gender pay gap, is complete. The idea after the line, what most people don't realize is just how persistent that pay gap has been, is also complete. Therefore, we need either STOP or HALF-STOP punctuation.

Choices (A) and (B) definitely provide the punctuation we want. Choice (D) doesn't look like it does, but remember! But is one of the FANBOYS, and comma + FANBOYS is one of the forms of STOP punctuation! The only one, therefore, that doesn't work in the context is (C), so it is the alternative that would NOT be acceptable.

Notice how important that word NOT was in this question. If you missed it, you might have thought the question had three correct answers!

Let's try another.

The 2size of the gap may have narrowed, but we still have a long way to go.

2. Which of the following substitutions would be LEAST acceptable?

A) magnitude

B) proportion

C) vastness

D) immensity

Here's How to Crack It

Again, the question asks for the LEAST acceptable, so find and eliminate answers that work. In this case, we need something similar in meaning to the word size as it is used in this sentence. All four words mean something similar to size in different contexts, but we want something that refers to just how large the gap is, so (A), (C), and (D) would work.

Choice (B) does give a synonym for the word size, but it means something more like dimensions than largeness, so it is the LEAST acceptable of the substitutions.

Let's look at another that deals with some of the topics we've seen earlier.

The problem has certainly gained a good deal of traction in public debates. The fact that it has gained such traction makes us wonder why isn't there more significant action to combat the gender pay gap.3

3. Which of the following gives the best way to combine these two sentences?

A) The problem has certainly gained a good deal of traction in public debates; the fact that it has gained such traction makes us wonder why isn't there more significant action to combat the gender pay gap.

B) The problem has certainly gained a good deal of traction in public debates, which raises the question of why more isn't being done to combat the gap.

C) The problem has certainly gained a good deal of traction in public debates: this fact of more public attention raises a serious question of why more isn't being done to close that gap.

D) The problem has certainly gained a good deal of traction in public debates. Why isn't more being done to combat the gap?

Here's How to Crack It

The question asks us to combine the two sentences. Your eyes were probably drawn immediately to (D), which is the most concise of the choices. There's just one problem: (D) doesn't answer the question! The question asks to combine the sentences, and while (D) shortens them, it doesn't combine them.

Choice (B) is therefore the best option. It combines the sentences and shortens them a bit, unlike (A) and (C), which combine the sentences, but don't really do much beyond changing the punctuation.

Questions like question 3 are why…

The most important thing about Writing and Language questions is that you notice those questions and then answer those questions.

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