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Question

Dear Mitch,

You said you'd post more of the writing questions from the SAT, or at least the answers on why the ones you put up yesterday were all wrong.

Looking forward to it,

Michael B.

Nebraska

Answer

Dearr Michael B.,

Yes! I did say I would get up a lot of new ones for the SAT writing questions by today, but, unfortunately, after an intern spent half the day typing them up, we had a computer crash, and this one zapped the backed-up version as well.  So she will retype the whole thing all over again tomorrow.  I am  sorry -- both to our readers and this poor young woman who now has to give up most of her Saturday to do something she has already done so well.  I guess the bright side is that it is the first time we have had any technical problems in over 18 months!  And that, I'm told, is pretty good.

Anyway, I will briefly explain why all three that I posted yesterday are wrong.  Unless I fall asleep in the middle, then stay tuned for one more day... just bare with us, and I promise we'll make it worth the trouble!

Okay, now, the first one said:

Everyone in the school thinks they are the 'best-dressed' student the teachers have ever seen.

ERROR: You cannot use a singular form with a plural; you must match singular to singular and/or plural to plural. "Everyone" is, believe it or not, singular; everyONE...

And "they" is plural.

So, the sentence could read either:  Everyone in the school thinks that he or she is the 'best-dressed' student the teachers have ever seen. 

(OR)

All students in the school seem to think that they are the 'best-dressed' students the teachers have ever seen.

........................

The second sentence said: The big group (which had over fifty members) got on the earliest bus they could find.

Now, I am just going to leave you with a major hint, so you can try to come up with one or two different ways to correct sentence number two.

HINT:  Just like the first sentence, this one mixes apples and oranges, as my grandmother used to say.  In other words, we have a singular and a plural. Find them, and then write the sentence correctly in the singular form, and then write it correctly in the plural form. The only rule is that you remain consistent throughout the sentence.  And I will elaborate further upon this next time to make sure you know exactly what I'm saying. 

The third sentence said this:

If I was you I would get your seatbelt back on and refrain from making any more of your stupid comments until we arrive at the hotel.

HINT:  Same as the previous two!  Now, find the singular word, find the plural, and then... you know what to do.

By the way,if you think this seems silly or laughably easy, then GREAT!  Why? Because it is ALL OVER the multiple choice portion of the SAT writing section.

Hope this helps,

Mitch