SAT Multiple Choice Writing Tips – Parallelism

Learn valuable tips and tricks to up your SAT Multiple Choice Writing game!

Learn valuable tips and tricks to up your SAT Multiple Choice Writing game!

Wait. Did that header just say “writing” and “parallelism”? Are they combining English and Math? I’m OUT!

No, don’t worry! We’re not about to start graphing sentences on a coordinate plane; we’re just going to examine one of those nit-picky grammar concepts that you never really learned in school and that the SAT suddenly expects you to know (that’s more fun, right?).

Parallelism in language occurs when two verbal constructions share a grammatical structure. In more pure cases of parallelism, phrases may also have corresponding meter, meaning, or sound and can be used as a poetic device. The immortal opening lines of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities illustrate parallelism wonderfully:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”

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SAT Vocabulary – Exacerbate


This Week’s Word: Exacerbate [Eggs-ASS-sir-bait] \ig-ˈza-sər-ˌbāt\

Exacerbate means to make more violent, bitter, or severe.

Synonyms: Worsen, Aggravate, and Impair.

Etymology: Stemming from the Latin acerbus, meaning “harsh” or “bitter.” This, combined with the prefix “ex-“ results in the current definition above.

Additional Information: Exacerbate, although not specified, is usually used to describe an act that is intentionally harsh, painful, or detrimental. Writers often use this word to describe behavior that is intentionally malicious or detrimental, rather than a negative form of behavior that is accidental.

Sample 1: Hoping to exact revenge on Mr. Bond, the villainous Goldfinger proceeded to exacerbate his tortuous methods of violence.

Sample 2: To say that the teacher’s notes were critical is a minor assessment; her accusation of the student lacking intelligence was a demonstration of exacerbation that was both rude and unnecessary.

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HBCU Spotlight – Xavier University of Louisiana

XulasealHistorically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have served a vital and transformative role in the history of America. Many of this country’s most prominent civil rights activists, politicians, actors, scientists, scholars, and public figures attended or taught at HBCUs, and for students of all backgrounds who want to connect with and be inspired by this history, HBCUs can provide an excellent education and a sense of pride in the extraordinary accomplishments of the many students who have gone before them. Continue reading “HBCU Spotlight – Xavier University of Louisiana” »

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Extra SAT Vocabulary – Auspicious

aus·pi·cious ôˈspiSHəs/ adjective

Auspicious is an adjective that means “favorable” and “tending toward success.” It has a positive connotation.

Sample Sentence:

Following a successful and popular campaign that drastically reduced crime in the city, the police chief decided that now would be an auspicious time to run for mayor.

In this sentence, the context clues that could help you figure out the meaning of the word auspicious would be the first half of the sentence. If the police chief’s campaign was successful in drastically reducing crime, then wouldn’t it make sense that he would have a very good chance of winning if he ran for mayor?

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SAT Multiple Choice Writing Tips – Dangling Modifier

Learn valuable tips and tricks to up your SAT Multiple Choice Writing game!

Learn valuable tips and tricks to up your SAT Multiple Choice Writing game!

Grammar instruction in public schools has, for the most part, gone the way of the dinosaurs (bye, Felicia!), but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to know it for the SAT Multiple Choice Writing section (gulp). Luckily, it’s surprisingly easy to learn what to look for in this section of the exam. For example, even though we may no longer discuss participial phrases, phrases that begin with the past or present participle form of a verb, doesn’t mean we can’t learn to spot a dangling modifier. Back up—a who in the what?  Continue reading “SAT Multiple Choice Writing Tips – Dangling Modifier” »

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ISEE Exam Reading Passage Example

Heinrich Zille kleiner Junge

“Little Boy” by Heinrich Zille (1858-1929). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The following passage is based on comparable Critical Reading passages found on the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE). The ISEE is used nationally for admission to private high schools. This passage was prepared by a Test Masters critical reading instructor for the purpose of familiarizing ISEE parents and students with the type of material they can expect to see on test day.

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College Admissions Essay “Do”s and “Don’t”s

We're here to help tips and tricks throughout the college admissions process!

Learn more valuable admissions tips and tricks!

I can still remember sitting down at the computer the weekend before college apps were due to write my admissions essay. I had sufficiently procrastinated to the point where my parents might actually take disciplinary action if I didn’t write my essays. I sat down, scrolled through the Common App, and hoped one of the prompts would read, “Tell a moderately humorous story about something that happened during your charmed, suburban childhood,” but no such luck. All the questions about “a time when you struggled” or “when you experienced a major failure” made me feel like I lacked depth. As I ruminated on the “write about whatever you want” prompt, Dr. Seuss suddenly popped into my head; hours later, I had 650 words about how The Sneetches had taught me a valuable lesson about tolerance. It wasn’t a bad essay, but, given the schools I was applying to, it could have been better.

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Multiple Choice Writing – Example Problem

1.      He was convinced that if property taxes would have rose any higher, he would have had to move to a different area.

a.       if property taxes would have rose

b.      if property taxes would rise

c.       if property taxes had risen

d.      had property taxes rose

e.      were property taxes to rise

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Extra SAT Vocabulary – Aesthetic

aes·thet·ic esˈTHetik/ adjective/noun

Aesthetic as an adjective means concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.  Aesthetic as a noun is a philosophical theory or set of principles governing the idea of beauty and its appreciation.

Sample Sentences:

It’s important for a graphic designer to have a flexible and wide-ranging aesthetic vision in order to face whatever challenges a new job may bring.

My brother loves going to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, but I have no appreciation for aesthetics, so all I see are blotches of color on giant pieces of canvas.

In both of these sentences, “aesthetic(s)” is being used to describe a person’s ability to appreciate beauty, specifically visual beauty.

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College Profile: Ohio Northern University (ONU)

ONUYour college mascot is something you’ll have to identify as for not only the next four years, but forty years from now when you run into your Freshman roommate at a wedding. With that in mind, you could be a Longhorn (University of Texas), but you’ll almost never be the only Longhorn in the room—there’s something to be said for being unique. You could be a Rainbow Warrior (University of Hawaii), but that sounds less than intimidating. You could even be a Trojan (University of Southern California), but, well…. However, if you really want to stand out, you could join the select few from Ohio Northern University who call themselves Polar Bears! Continue reading “College Profile: Ohio Northern University (ONU)” »

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