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Study Common Grammar Errors on the SAT

Here is a great way to review two common grammar errors on the writing section of the SAT. Students can enhance their score by studying specific errors.

Many students find the language section of the SAT to be the most challenging of the three sections. The language section is comprised of a 25 minute essay component as well as a multiple choice section containing 49 questions. The most effective way to study for this section of the test is for students to familiarize themselves with the most frequent grammar errors. Here are two common grammar errors on the SAT.

Faulty Comparison

Common grammar errorsMost faulty, or incorrect, comparisons occur when two items are compared that should not be. To quickly identify these types of errors, students should ask themselves, “are apples being compare to apples here… or oranges? While the comparison may be incorrect grammatically, the comparison might instead not make logical sense. Consider the following example.

My essay about the Harlem Renaissance, which was well-crafted and organized, far surpassed Katie.

In this example, students should ask themselves, “what is the apple?” That is, what is the focus of the comparison? In this case, the essay is attempting to be compared to Katie, rather than to Katie’s essay. Here are two possible ways to correct this sentence.

My essay about the Harlem Renaissance, which was well-crafted and organized, far surpassed Katie’s essay.

My essay about the Harlem Renaissance, which was well-crafted and organized, far surpassed that of Katie.

As faulty comparisons are commonly found on the error identification subsection of the SAT, students should heighten their awareness of this error when completing practice tests in The Official SAT Study Guide or other SAT prep book.

Misuse of Adjectives and Adverbs

Students commonly confuse these two parts of speech and often do not realize when they have erroneously used one instead of the other. To clarify the difference, students should take note of the following definitions.

  • Adjective:modifies a noun or a pronoun; the passionate orator
  • Adverb:describes a verb, adjective, or another adverb; the extremely passionate orator

Students should consider the following example and seek to correct it.

In this challenging economy, homebuyers are hoping to find decent priced houses.

In this sentence, we need a word that describes priced, which is being used as an adjective describing houses. Any word modifying an adjective must be an adverb; therefore, decent must be changed to the adverb decently in order for the sentence to be grammatically correct.

In the following example, the wrong form of adverb is used. Students should see if they can spot the error.

After attending two colleges, I decided I liked the first one best.

This sentence is written using a superlative adverb, best. To correct this error, the comparative form of the adverb, better, should be used as only two colleges are being compared. In order to use the superlative form, writers must compare three or more items, such as in the correctly constructed sentence below.

After attending three colleges, I decided I liked the first one best.

Learning correct grammar usage can seem overwhelming at first. However, students must realize that there are only a limited number of error types that the SAT generally tests. Knowing which errors to look for is a huge advantage on the test. Students can master these specific errors by completing practice tests and learning to spot these errors efficiently. Once they become more familiar with the sentence errors, students will gain confidence as they watch they practice test scores soar.