Tip #3 - Time4Writing

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Editing & Revising: Approaches to
Improving Paragraphs for
Standardized Tests
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Improving writing is a skill that is essential when honing
a first draft. Always re-read your writing to make sure
that you have expressed yourself effectively and
correctly.
Standardized tests, particularly the SAT, will present a
paragraph and ask how you would revise or edit a
sentence.
These improvements might require looking at the
paragraph as a whole and considering how a sentence
relates to its context.
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The directions will appear on the test as follows:
Directions: The following passage is an
early draft of an essay. Some parts of the
passage need to be rewritten.
You will want to read the entire passage and select the best
answers for the questions that follow. Some questions are
about particular sentences or parts of sentences and ask
you how to improve sentence structure or word choice.
Other questions ask you to consider organization and
development. In choosing answers, follow the requirements
of standard written English. The resources on this site and
your teacher can help you with this.
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Here is an example of the first few sentences of a paragraph:
(1)"Snow Falling on Cedars is a novel written by David
Guterson. (2)It takes place in San Piedro, an island off of
Washington.(3)Japanese-American fisherman, Kabuo Miyamoto, is
tried for murdering, but he may receive an unfair trial due
to the post war anti-Japanese climate.
In the context of the paragraph, which revision is most needed in sentence 3?
(A) Omit the word "he"
(B) Insert "In the story" at the beginning
(C) Change the last comma to a semicolon
(D) Change "is" to "was" and "may receive" to "received"
(E) Change "murdering" to "murder"
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Answer: The correct answer is E
Explanation: He is on trial for the act of murder, which is a noun.
The other edit options may seem to make the sentence
more clear, but E is a blatant grammatical error.
If you did not read through options A-E and chose an
earlier one, hopefully you will learn to read the entire essay
and check all of the possible answers.
The following steps explain why it is important to do this...
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Step 1 to Revising Paragraphs
Make sure that you SLOWLY and carefully read the
ENTIRE essay BEFORE you read the questions.
•
Pay attention to the main idea, structure, and
sentence connectivity of the whole paragraph.
•
As it is a first draft, you may notice errors. These
might not be addressed in the questions, so don't
waste your time on them.
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Step 2 to Revising Paragraphs
Once you have a feel for what the paragraph is about:
• Read the question from start to finish.
o Make sure that you understand what is being asked.
• Try every single answer option.
o More than one of the possibilities may improve the
sentence, so:
 First, eliminate the ones that will not work.
 Then, retry the remaining possibilities to see which
one is the most necessary.
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Tip #1 Sentences can be improved by removing
or changing redundant words.
Example: A phrase like "melancholy sadness" has
two words that mean the same thing. Change one of the
words or simply take it out.
Tip #2 Improve sentences by adding descriptive
detail.
Example: Rewrite "The dog barked." to
"The angry dog barked harshly."
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Tip #3
If you are still unsure of how to revise a
sentence, think about how its context relates to
the other sentences in the paragraph.
Tip #4
Manage your time wisely.
If there is time remaining, you can revisit a
question. Mark the place in the test booklet so
that you can find it.
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The end.
More free SAT WRITING resources:
• identifying sentence errors
• choosing the better sentence
• improving sentences
• writing the SAT essay - characteristics of
effective writing
Eight-week WRITING courses:
• elementary school
• middle school
• high school
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Copyright 2012
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