Why are semicolons tested on the SAT

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The SAT I statistically checks whether you are successful in your first year of study or not. Admissions officers keep an eye on their students' SAT scores and have a pretty good idea that is rewarded with signal issues and whose scores indicate clear sailing. Many college guides list the average entry level SAT grades.

That said, as the wide-angle lens narrows to focus on a person like you, the picture gets more and more complicated, and the registration agencies are well aware of this fact. How rigorous your high school is, whether you are good at dealing with multiple choice questions, and how you feel physically and mentally on Saturday day (fight with mom? Bad romance? Week old sushi?) - all of these will affect your score. Bottom line: stop fretting about the injustice of the SAT (and that's unfair) and prepare.

The Essay Essay is a great place to put your findings in perspective. If you are faced with special circumstances, such as a learning disability, a school that doesn't care about academics, a family tragedy, and so on, you may want to write an essay to explain your situation. No essay will wipe away the bad impression created by an extremely low SAT score, but a good essay gives the college a way to interpret your accomplishment and see you, the applicant, in detail.

The SAT does not test facts that you studied in school; You don't need to know when Columbus sailed the Atlantic or how to calculate the molecular weight of magnesium to answer a SAT reasoning question. Instead, the SAT aims to follow a logical order, understand what you've read, and write clearly in standard English. The math part checks if you've been paying attention or snoring when you've learned small details like algebra. See the next few sections for a bird's eye view of the three SAT topics.

Critical reading

This topic will appear three times per SAT for your score. (All SATs include an extra section in either reading or math that the SAT makers only use for research.) You are faced with two 25-minute sections and a 20-minute critical reading section, a fancy term for Reading comprehension. Each section can contain sentence completions and / or reading comprehension passages that are either short (about 100 words) or long (700 to 800 words). You will also see a series of paired passages - a double view on a subject from two different angles.

Sentence completions

The sentence completions are just filler characters; you may come across a sentence or two of nine or ten questions. The phrase closure vocabulary and your ability to decode the sentence structure as follows:

SAT sentence completion is guaranteed to give you a headache, so the test makers will thoughtfully provide __________ for each exam.

(A) aspirin

(B) dictionaries

(C) Answer key

(D) tutoring

(E) head massage

Answer: (A). Given that the phrase indicates "headache", your best bet is "aspirin", at least in the SAT world. In real life, you might prefer a day at the spa, but the test-makers didn't consider that option. (E) is also an option, but the SAT leaves with the best answer, not the only answer.

Reading comprehension

Reading comprehension questions are a mix of literal (facts only) and interpretive / analytical. You may be asked to choose the meaning of a word in context or to judge the tone or point of view of the author. Passages can be taken from the natural and social sciences, the humanities or fiction, as follows:
Thanhowser was furious when he learned that the first GC-MP8 handheld was already in circulation. And this is where he wasted his college time! The degree he had pursued so tenaciously for the past three years now seemed nothing more than a gigantic waste of time. In the business world where he belonged, he was marketing someone else's technology just enough to patent "his" idea.

On line 5, the word his is in quotation marks

(A) because it's a pronoun

(B) is because the reader is supposed to hiss at Thanhowser, which everyone hates

(C) to show that the idea really came from someone else

(D) to show that the idea really came from a woman masquerading as a male

(E) because the typesetter had some extra quotation marks

Answer: (C) .. These quotes refer to Thanhowser's claim to someone else's technology. "Although not directly quoted, the quotation marks around" his "imply that Thanhowser is saying that a particular invention is his when it is not.


To the chagrin (disappointment or embarrassment) of English teachers everywhere, the SAT Writing test contains only part of the actual writing: a 25-minute essay on a topic you've never seen before, plus 25-minute short answers. Why write so little? As those who sit on our laps with piles of essays four feet high know, it takes a long time to read student prose. The SAT testers have to pay people to read and rate essays - a much more expensive and time consuming proposition than running a bubble through a scanner. The multiple choice questions test your ability to spot grammar, punctuation and word usage errors and to make sentence revisions. You'll also see a few pseudo (fake) first drafts of student essays and answer some questions about the author's intentions. Again, in these longer passages, you need to select the best revisions.

Error detection

Error detection questions are long sentences (they must be long to allow for four errors) with sections underlined. You select the part with an error or select (E) for "no error."

Flabbergill condemned his mistress for her work with the revolutionary band, hiring a new bass guitarist whose musical talent, he said, β€œis great.” No mistake.

Answer: (C). Each half of the sentence can stand on its own, so there must not be a comma. You'll need a semicolon or a word like and or so to glue the two pieces together.

Sentence revision

In these questions, the test gurus underline a part of the sentence and then give four alternatives. (A) always repeats the original formulation.

After being rejected by fifteen major league baseball teams, Gilberdub switched to basketball and made it to his goal of being a professional athlete.

(A) in his goal where he wanted to be a professional athlete.

(B in which he achieved his goal of being a professional athlete.

(C) where he became a professional athlete.

(D) in his goal of becoming a professional athlete.

(E) because he wanted million dollar sneaker ads.

Answer: (D). I'm just kidding about (E) even though an endorsement contract was actually Gilberdub's motivation.

Paragraph Revision> These questions throw you into the mind of a fairly competent student who only had enough time to complete a first draft of an essay on a general subject - some questions ask you to combine sentences effectively, others are similar to the sentence revision section - an underlined section with possible improvements or alternative versions of full sentences.


This section is the only point in the Writing section where you can actually write something. For those of you who have permanently implanted keyboards. Fingernails, this section can be a handwriting challenge. s on developing technology, a picture of your essay - ink blots, saliva drools, and all - will be available on the web to college entrance offices reviewing your applications. Start practicing your writing skills.

In relation to what you are writing, the essay is a standard, brief discussion of a general topic that the SAT makers offer. You have to take a stand and defend it with evidence (literature, history and your own experience or observation). The biggest challenge is time: you only have 25 minutes to think, write, and revise.


In the new SAT, the dreaded quantitative comparisons, in which you asked which of two points is greater, have disappeared. There are also questions based on Algebra II and some advanced topics in geometry, statistics, and probability. Your SAT has two 25-minute math sections that count (and perhaps an equation section that the SAT only uses for its own statistical analysis). Almost all of the questions are multiple choice, in which you choose the answer from five choices; ten are pop-ups where you add an answer and a bubble in the actual number, not a multiple choice letter. Take a look at the following example of a math problem:

If xy - 12 = z and the value of x is 2, which of the following statements must be true?

(A) z = the number of days since you haven't had any homework

(B) y = 12 + z

(C) z = 2y - 12

(D) 2y - z = 100

(E) y> the number of hours you need to study SAT math

Answer: (A).

Just kidding. It is actually (E). Oops, joking again. The correct choice is (C).