In this lesson, our professor Vincent Selhorst-Jones gives an introduction on the grammar mistake petting zoo. He discusses subject-verb agreement, verb tense, noun-pronoun agreement, pronoun case, parallel structure, run-on sentences, and idioms/ prepositions.
The Multiple-Choice Grammar portion of the Writing section tests your understanding of grammar. To do your best, you need to have a good understanding of various grammar mistakes.
This is not a complete list! While this covers most of the common mistakes, there are others as well. If you want a more comprehensive list or to explore them in more depth, check out the SAT Writing-specific lessons on Educator.com.
Subject-Verb Agreement: The subject and a verb in a sentence must match each other. Ex: "John loves ice cream, but his parents love broccoli."
Verb Tense: The actions in a sentence must happen in a consistent time. If something happens in the past, the verb should use past tense. Ex: "Right now I'm at my house. Earlier, I ran home. Later, I will go shopping."
Noun-Pronoun Agreement: Pronouns replace nouns in a sentence. But they have to match up with each other! Be especially careful about the difference between singular and plural. Ex: "Each of the dinosaurs we polled supports an anti-meteor system." [Notice: Even though `dinosaurs' is plural, we use `supports' (used for singular subjects). This is correct because `each' uses the singular. Compare to "Dinosaurs support an anti-meteor system."]
Pronoun Case: The case (object or subject) must also line up with the pronoun. Is the subject doing the acting? Or is it being acted upon? Ex: "My dog is going to the dance with you and me."
Parallel Structure: Once a grammatical pattern becomes established, it needs to be carried through the rest of the sentence. Ex: "Eva likes reading, writing, and painting."
Run-On Sentences: Formally, a run-on sentence is a sentence that contains multiple independent clauses without properly joining them together. But on the SAT, you can just think of it as a sentence that tries to say too much or uses too many words to say something. Instead, you want sentences that are not overly confusing and that get to the point. In general, shorter is better.
Idioms/Prepositions: The same verb can mean different things depending on the preposition to which it connects. Knowing which preposition means what is mainly a matter of experience, so be prepared to rely on whether or not it "feels" right. Ex: "When I broke up the fight, the two combatants broke down and cried."
Read Carefully: Sometimes the error is really simple, but hard to notice if you're hurrying through the text. Be careful and pay attention to what you're reading! The mistake can be obvious, but hard to see at first glance. Incorrect Example: "At the vampire poker game, the steaks were very high."
Grammar Mistake Petting Zoo
Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.
Educator.com recommends The Official SAT Study Guide published by The College Board, the administrators of the actual SAT test. In it, you will find additional practice questions and a review of all subjects, along with 10 official SAT practice tests. Our instructors work through several of the practice tests in real time, going through their thought processes and test-taking tips.
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