The SAT Writing and Language Test-Precision Questions

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Not all questions will be just applications of punctuation and words. Some questions will ask you to do more specific things. Remember the three terms we kept repeating in the Words chapter: Consistency, Precision, and Concision. We'll start with the Precision-related questions. Even when Precision is not asked about directly, or when it is mixed with Consistency or Concision, remember this:

Answer the question in the most precise way possible. Read literally!

Let's try one.

The question of unequal pay for women draws on many other broader social issues.4

4. The writer is considering deleting the phrase of unequal pay for women from the preceding sentence. Should this phrase be kept or deleted?

A) Kept, because removing it would remove a crucial piece of information from this part of the sentence.

B) Kept, because it reminds the reader of social injustice in the modern world.

C) Deleted, because it wrongly implies that there is a disparity between what women and men are paid.

D) Deleted, because it gives information that has no bearing on this particular text.

Here's How to Crack It

This question asks whether we should keep or delete the phrase of unequal pay for women. Without that phrase, the sentence reads, The question draws on many other broader social issues. Because nothing in this sentence or any of the previous ones specifies what this question might be, we should keep the phrase. We want to be as precise as possible!

And, as (A) says, we want to keep the phrase because it is crucial to clarifying precisely what the question is. Choice (B) is a little too grandiose a reason to keep the phrase, especially when the whole passage is about the particular injustice of the gender pay gap. Choice (A) is therefore the best answer.

Let's try another.

The gender disparities persist in areas other than pay. It is a kind of open secret, for instance, that women have had the right to vote in the United States for less than a century. 5 There is a long history of misogyny written into the very cultural and social fabric of the United States.

5. At this point, the writer is considering adding the following true statement:

The year that women's suffrage became legal in the United States was also the year that the American Football League was formed under the leadership of Jim Thorpe.

Should the writer make this addition here?

A) Yes, because it gives a broader context to the achievement of women's suffrage.

B) Yes, because it helps to ease some of the political rhetoric in the rest of the passage.

C) No, because it does not contribute in a significant way to the discussion of the gender pay gap.

D) No, because the question of gender pay is irrelevant when all football players are men.

Here's How to Crack It

The proposed sentence does contain an interesting bit of information, but that piece of information has no clear place either in these few sentences or in the passage as a whole. Therefore, it should not be added, thus eliminating (A) and (B).

Then, because it does not play a significant role in the passage, the sentence should not be added for the reason stated in (C). While (D) may be true in a way, it does not reflect anything clearly relating to the role the sentence might play in the passage as a whole. Read literally, and answer as literally and precisely as you can.

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