Tag Archives: grammar

Punctuation may be used to clarify meaning in written English, but the rules governing these marks tend to be anything but clear to modern high schoolers. Luckily, we can teach every rule the SAT and ACT test on commas, colons, semicolons, dashes, apostrophes, and other marks in a surprisingly short and engaging session. Plus, mastery of punctuation marks makes anyone a better writer! This seminar is perfect for any student who struggles with punctuation questions on the tests or in school.   The fee for this one-hour online seminar is $30 .   Advance registration is required. Register through our Student Information Form and specify SAT & ACT Punctuation. We will reply to registrants by email with the invitation to this Zoom seminar.   ABOUT YOUR TEACHER: Kaeti Stoss combines her interest in science with her passion for education. When not teaching students, she helps develop Chariot Learning’s research-based curriculum.…

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When discussing strategies for multiple-choice grammar questions recently–something totally normal people do all the time, I’m sure–I found myself surprised by how much one of my most respected friends in education and I differed on how useful “listening” for an error is. Continued debate proved inconclusive, so we brought the question to our big brain colleagues in Test Prep Tribe: “How many of you advocate that students “use their ears” to identify grammar errors in ACT English or SAT Writing and Language?” Unsurprisingly, the test prep community at large is split, at least as far as blanket statements about any particular approach go. However, the lively discussion around the issue helped formulate some nuanced rules about trusting your ear when solving grammar questions: In English, what sounds wrong is wrong… usually. Standardized exams like the SAT and ACT tend to test grammar through underlined portions of larger texts that may…

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Every time I see this e-card, I have to laugh. Most of our students would smile too, since we always call out “for all intensive purposes” as a classic word usage error. The grammarians at the College Board and ACT, Inc. have been known to torment kids with, among other things, eggcorns and malapropisms: An eggcorn is an idiosyncratic substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker’s dialect. The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original, but plausible in the same context, e.g. take it for granite instead of take it for granted. We create eggcorns all the time when we try to decode the lyrics to our favorite songs. A malapropism, on the other time, occurs when the substitution creates a nonsensical phrase. Classical malapropisms generally derive their comic effect from the fault of…

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SAT Writing and ACT English put you into the role of an editor. While high schoolers generally approach English as sometimes reluctant readers and writers, they don’t have as much experience as editors. That, however, is where the magic happens. Skillful editing turns a draft into a polished document. Every published work you’ve ever read has been worked over by one or more editors; most are reviewed by both copy editors for grammar and content editors for effectiveness. On these tests, students need to wear both hats. Thus, the first step on any ACT English or SAT Writing and Language grammar question is to find the errors. After all, most of the questions will have at least one error that demands a fix. Grammatical errors usually sound wrong to attuned ears, so read each underlined section silently to listen for errors. Use your eyes as well, because punctuation errors in…

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If today’s high school students are tomorrow’s leaders, our future looks very bright, at least in most respects. Where teens excel intellectually, emotionally, and technologically, however, they fall astonishingly short grammatically. If you don’t believe me, ask the nearest high schooler at hand what a preposition is. That dazed, deer-in-headlights look will tell you everything you need to know. Identifying a preposition should be simplicity itself, considering we use them in nearly every single sentence (including this one!) These basic, everyday words like of, to, in, on, for, and with are essential to communication. Yet, they pass unnoticed. Most teens–probably most people–can barely recognize let alone define a preposition. Actually, even the experts struggle to express exactly what a preposition is in easily understandable terms. Dictionary.com defines a preposition as “any member of a class of words found in many languages that are used before nouns, pronouns, or other substantives…

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While the multiple-choice grammar sections of the SAT & ACT stand out as fairly straightforward in terms of testing content, test takers generally find themselves surprised by two major observations: First, most native English speakers struggle with the fundamental mechanics of their mother tongue. Second, grammar entails more than just mechanics, punctuation, and sentence structure. Obviously, students seeking the highest scores on these sections need to sharpen their grammar skills before test day. The SAT & ACT test the rhetorical aspects of communication represented by the SAT subscore category Expression of Ideas: thesis, organization, transitions, word choice, style, and tone. Organization questions stand out as consistently challenging, but what makes them so tough? These questions ask test takers to identify the proper place in a passage for a selected sentence or paragraph. Answering these questions correctly requires insight into the point an author is trying to make and how that…

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