Is the Digital SAT easier than the old paper SAT?

Many students and parents who were familiar with the old paper-based SAT are wondering whether the new Digital SAT will be easier.  The Digital SAT is designed to maintain the same level of rigor and predictive value for colleges as the paper SAT—otherwise, it wouldn’t be a useful tool to assess freshman-year readiness.  The College Board has done extensive research to ensure that Digital SAT scores align with paper SAT scores.  That being said, students I have tutored have generally found the new Digital SAT to be much less intimidating and more approachable than the paper SAT.  Here are ten reasons why most students will find the Digital SAT easier than the paper SAT. 

1.  Test fatigue is much less of an issue.  While the paper SAT was over three hours long, the Digital SAT is only a little over two hours.  This is possible because of the section-adaptive format of the Digital SAT:  students start with modules of average difficulty and then progress to either more or less challenging modules based on their first module performance.  Most students find that sustaining their attention for a little over two hours is quite manageable, making the Digital SAT less overwhelming than the paper SAT. 

2.  Less time wasted on double-checking.  On the paper SAT, many students found it difficult to avoid looking back at their previous answers since they could easily be seen.  Also, they had concerns about their bubbling in of the paper answer sheets. On the Digital SAT, students will only view one question at a time, making it much easier to compartmentalize their focus on one task.  Also, students click on the answer instead of physically bubbling, and they can easily see that the answer choice they selected is recorded by the computer. 

3.  Calculators are available throughout the math section.  The paper SAT had a no-calculator section; even though all the problems on this section could have been done without a calculator, many students found it more challenging than the calculator math section.  On the Digital SAT, students can bring a calculator of their own to use for the math sections.  Moreover, they have access to the powerful Desmos™ calculator that is built into the testing interface.  The functionality of the Desmos™ calculator allows students to easily graph parabolas, systems of equations, and even tables. 

4.  Fewer questions on obscure grammar concepts.  The Digital SAT focuses on grammar fundamentals:  subject-verb agreement, verb tense, punctuation, modifier placement, and transitions.  Unlike the old SAT, which also tested idioms, diction, and wordiness, students will find that they can focus their grammar study on certain concepts.  For example, understanding the rules of semicolon and colon usage can go a long way on the Digital SAT. 

5. The question stems are more predictable.  Unlike the paper SAT, which had a wide variety of question wording, the questions on the Digital SAT are quite consistent.  Students will find certain question stems repeated over and over: 

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?  

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?

Which choice most logically completes the text? 

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?  Which choice completes the text with the most logical transition?  

Having these consistent question stems allows students to get in a better testing rhythm and devote more time to thinking about their answers instead of trying to understand what they are asked to do. 

6.  The reading and writing selections are concise.  The old paper SAT had just a few reading and writing passages, each of which was several hundred words.  If a student found a topic uninteresting on these sorts of passages, it was easy for them to lose focus.  On the Digital SAT, the reading and writing passages are no longer than 150 words and are accompanied by a single question.  While a shorter text doesn’t necessarily mean an easier text, it does mean that students will often find them less daunting than the longer old SAT passages. 

7.  Proctor errors are less of a concern.  I have had some past tutoring students experience proctor errors during their testing—in particular, the proctor called “time” too early or too late.  Since the timing on the Digital SAT is done within the testing application, students need not worry about time being called early.  If they hide the countdown clock, it will automatically reappear when 5 minutes remain.  That way, students can be sure they answer every question before they run out of time. 

8. Students can use their own tablet or computer.  Familiarity brings comfort—students can practice on the same tablet or computer they want to use on test day.  Students can take control of their testing process by ensuring their computer is fully charged and in good working order.  There should be a minimal disconnect between practice tests and real tests when the device is the same for each. 

9.  The questions are less wordy.  Both the reading/writing and the math questions on the Digital SAT are generally shorter than those found on the paper SAT.  If students take their time carefully reading the questions, they are unlikely to make careless reading errors. 

10.  The Digital SAT is almost exactly like the Digital PSAT.  While there are slight differences in the content tested on the SAT and PSAT, the two tests have the same format and time restrictions.  Students who took the PSAT in the fall will feel comfortable knowing that they have already seen the computer interface and question types they will see on the Digital SAT. 

All told, students should look at the new Digital SAT not as something to be feared, but as an outstanding opportunity to demonstrate their academic skills to colleges. 

Digital SAT Writing Transitions Practice Questions

1. The following is an excerpt from The Dorrington Deed-box by Arthur Morrison:


As for Dorrington, he had his hundred pounds reward. But the bill for £10,000 he never presented. Why, I do not altogether know, unless he found that Mr. Mallows’s financial position, as he had hinted, was not altogether so good as was supposed.  __________ it was found among the notes and telegrams in this case in the Dorrington deed-box.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. In other words,
B. At any rate,
C. Whatever,
D. On the other hand,

2. The following is an excerpt from Sanders of the River, By Edgar Wallace:


The Hon. George Tackle had the good fortune to be the son of his father; otherwise, I am free to confess he had no claim to distinction.  __________ his father, being the proprietor of the Courier and Echo (with which are incorporated I don’t know how many dead and gone stars of the Fleet Street firmament), George had a “pull” which no amount of competitive merit could hope to contend with.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. But
B. While
C. So
D. Thus

3. The following is an excerpt from The Pathless Trail by Arthur O. Friel:


Sleep enveloped the huts. Snores and gurgles rose and fell. Tim himself, for the sake of effect, snored heartily at intervals, __________ his eyes never closed. Through his mosquito bar he could see only vaguely, but he knew any man walking from the crew’s quarters must cast a very visible shadow across that net, and to him the shadow would be as good a warning as a clear view of the substance. But the hours crept on, and no shadow came.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. and
B. though
C. since
D. for

4. The Following is an excerpt from Bones in London, By Edgar Wallace:


The Tibbetts-Jelf Lamp was something new in motor lamps. It was a lamp which had all the advantages of the old lamp, plus properties which no lamp had ever had before, and it had none of the disadvantages of any lamp previously introduced, and, __________ had no disadvantages whatsoever. So Jelf told Bones with great earnestness.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. however,
B. finally,
C. in fact,
D. therefore,

5. The following is an excerpt from The Keepers of The King’s Peace by Edgar Wallace:


The Wiggle, moreover, possessed many attributes which are denied to other small steamers. She had, __________  a Maxim gun on her tiny forecastle. She had a siren of unusual power and diabolical tone, she was also fitted with a big motor-horn, both of which appendages were Bones’s gift to his flagship.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?


A. on the other hand,
B. however,
C. completely,
D. for example

6. The following is an excerpt from Kidnapped by Robert Lois Stevenson:

I was abashed how to find expression for my thanks; but she was no less abashed at the thought of hearing them; begged us to lose no time and to hold our peace, saying (very properly) that the heart of our matter was in haste and silence; __________ what with one thing and another, she had set us on the Lothian shore not far from Carriden, had shaken hands with us, and was out again at sea and rowing for Limekilns, before there was one word said either of her service or our gratitude.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?


A. therefore,
B. because,
C. but,
D. and,

7. The following is an excerpt from Caves of Terror by Talbot Mundy


The tiny portions that melted and liquefied became full of motion, __________ the motion was never in one place for more than about a minute at a time; and wherever the motion had been the lump lost bulk, so that gradually the whole piece shrank and shrank.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. while
B. although
C. so
D. because

8. The following is an excerpt from The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope:

After that we called on Bertram Bertrand, a versifier of some repute and Paris correspondent to The Critic. He had a very comfortable suite of rooms, and we found some pleasant fellows smoking and talking. It struck me, __________ that Bertram himself was absent and in low spirits, and when everybody except ourselves had gone, I rallied him on his moping preoccupation.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. however,
B. on one hand,
C. therefore,
D. nevertheless,

9. The following is an excerpt from the introduction to She, by H. Rider Haggard:

That same evening my visit came to an end, and this was the last I saw or heard of “Charon” and “the Greek god” for many a long day. __________ I have never seen either of them from that hour to this, and do not think it probable that I shall. But a month ago I received a letter and two packets, one of manuscript, and on opening the first found that it was signed by “Horace Holly,” a name that at the moment was not familiar to me.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. While,
B. Therefore,
C. Indeed,
D. Nevertheless,

10. The following is an excerpt from The Lion of Petra by Talbot Mundy:

The beginning as concerns me was when I moved into quarters in Grim’s mess in Jerusalem. As a civilian and a foreigner I could not have done that, __________ if it had been a real mess; but Grim, who gets fun out of side-stepping all regulations, had established a sort of semi-military boarding-house for junior officers who were tired of tents, and he was too high up in the Intelligence Department for anybody less than the administrator to interfere with him openly.

Which choice completes the text with the most logical and precise word or phrase?

A. but,
B. in addition,
C. while,
D. of course,

Solutions

1. B.  The information before the blank is saying that the author doesn’t exactly know why Dorrington never cashed the 10,000-pound check. The sentence with the blank is saying that the check was found in his possession. The author is not repeating previous information, so answer A is incorrect. Answer C makes no logical sense. Answer D is incorrect because the author is not contrasting the two sentences. Instead, the author is offering more information about the check, making option B the best answer.

2. A. The general meaning of this passage is that George Tackle had no reason to be notable, except that his father was notable. This makes option A the best answer since we are contrasting the lack of importance of the son with the “pull” he gets from his father. Option B is incorrect as it makes the second sentence a fragment. Options C and D are incorrect as the author is not showing cause and effect. 

3. B. Here, the author is setting up a contrast. We learn that Tim is making snoring noises, but he is still watching through the mosquito netting for a shadow. Therefore, he isn’t actually asleep. The only answer option that shows the contrast between the snoring noises and his being awake is option B.

4. C. Notice the word “and” before the blank. This eliminates option A. Option B is incorrect as we are not placing things in order. Option D is incorrect as the author is not concluding. The author is offering additional information, making option C the best answer.

5. D. In this passage, the second sentence is showing an example of an attribute The Wiggle had which other small steamers did not have. This makes option D the only appropriate answer.

6. D. The author is offering more information here. The woman has refused thanks and set them on the shore. This makes option D the best answer. The author is not showing cause and effect, making A and B incorrect and is not showing contrast, making option C incorrect.

7. B. The sentence shows that the portions are full of motion. The author wants to contrast this with the motion never being regular or in one place. This contrast is best shown in answer B. Answer A leaves the sentence a fragment. Options C and D do not show contrast.

8. A. The context clue here is that they found “pleasant fellows” but Bertram was “in low spirits” these are two contrasting emotions, making “however” the best answer. Option B would need to be placed with the first item of contrast, not the second. Option C shows cause and effect, not contrast. Option D does not fit into the context of the sentence.

9. C. In this sentence, the author is adding more information to emphasize the information in the first sentence that “this was the last I saw or heard of [them] for many a long day”. This makes option C the best answer as it shows that what is coming next is additional information. Option A does not fit into the sentence structure of the second sentence. Option B shows cause and effect. Option D shows contrast.

10. D. The first sentence sets up that he could not do what he did. The second sentence explains why he could do that after all (by breaking rules). The keeping of the rules is to be assumed, thus “of course” is the best answer. The breaking of rules is not to be assumed. Options A, B, and C do not fit into the structure of the sentence.

Digital SAT Rhetorical Synthesis Practice Questions

1. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • In Rome, there still remain ruins of the Temple of Apollo Palatinus which was constructed in the first century BCE.
  • In the late 1st century CE the temple underwent a restoration after being fire damaged in the Great Fire of Rome in 64 CE
  • The temple was almost completely destroyed in another fire in 363 CE
  • If you visit Rome today you will only be able to see the core of the temple’s podium and some other fragments which were excavated in the mid-1800s.

The student wants to educate visitors to Rome as to why they can’t see the entire temple today. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Because of an excavation in the 1800s, parts of the temple including the podium, are visible to modern visitors to the site.
B. After the Great Fire of Rome in 64 CE the entire temple underwent a restoration so that it could continue being used.
C. The Temple of Apollo Palatinus was originally built over 2000 years ago.
D. After its nearly complete destruction in a fire in 363, the Temple of Apollo Palatinus was not restored, leaving only fragments.

2. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • The Fountain and Tallman Museum is located in the historic Fountain-Tallman Soda Works building in Placerville California.
  • The building is unique in its construction as it has stone walls that are over two feet thick—originally designed to keep ice and other soda making equipment cool. The thick walls are why it still stands when most other buildings from that era have not survived.
  • In addition to being a soda water factory, the building was also used as a jail and an office space for a gas company.
  • In the late 1900s the building was donated to a local historical society and was set up as a museum of local history.

The student wants to introduce the historic Fountain-Tallman Soda Works building to an audience that has never heard of it before. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. The Fountain- Tallman Soda Works building is a historic building in Placerville California that was built as a soda water factory but has served the community in several capacities since its construction.
B. The Fountain-Tallman Soda Works building is currently a museum with walls that are over two feet thick.
C. The Fountain and Tallman Museum started with the donation of a building to a local historical society in the late 1900s.
D. The Fountain and Tallman Museum was originally built as a soda water factory, but does not remain a factory today.

3. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (BVM) and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar (TBV) are two different products with different standards.
  • BVM has lower standards, and is much less expensive, is often aged only briefly, and contains  some ingredients that are not traditional.  It is protected under the weak European protected geographical indication (PGI).
  • TBV is aged at least 12 years, but often much longer, and has stricter controls on ingredients as well as origin as it is regulated under the strong European protected designation of origin (PDO).
  • Neither PGI nor PDO are able to be enforced in the U.S. so if consumers want to purchase real balsamic vinegar, they must be careful to read the name and look for the PDO or PGI seal on the label.

The student wants to explain to readers in the United States the variety of goods they might see labeled as “balsamic vinegar” in the grocery store. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Both BVM and TBV can be found in the United States, but only if a discerning shopper knows where to look.
B. Because PGI and PDO are not enforced in the United States, a wide range of products, from artificially dyed vinegar to authentic TBV and BVM, may be labeled as balsamic vinegar in American stores.
C. Authentic BVM and TBV both have strict quality controls at their points of origin in northern Italy. Shoppers can be confident of authenticity by looking for PDO and PGI seals.
D. BVM and TBV are both protected in some way, with BVM having lower standards and TBV having higher standards.

4. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • As a type of antibody, Immunoglobulin G (IgG), binds with many pathogens in the body in order to protect the body from infections brought on by viruses, bacteria, and fungi, among others.
  • IgG is the most common antibody in blood circulation and makes up around 75% of serum antibodies in humans.
  • If doctors suspect certain conditions, they may measure a patient’s levels of IgG as a diagnostic tool.
  • IgG plays a key role in newborn immunity as infants inherit IgG from their mothers through both placenta while in utero and through breast milk once born.

The student wants to include in her essay a sentence that will highlight the importance of IgG to all humans. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. IgG makes up around 75% of the average human’s serum antibodies and plays a key role in protecting the body from a wide range of infections.
B. Infants receive IgG in multiple ways from their mothers, including through the placenta and through breast milk.
C. IgG levels are used by doctors occasionally as a diagnostic indicator for certain specific conditions.  
D. While important, IgG is not the only antibody that helps support immune reaction in humans who have been infected by a virus, bacteria, or fungi.

5. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • Mary Quant was one of the designers who helped to define 1960’s style in the United States and Great Britain.
  • Quant specialized in youthful looks with bold colors, blocky shapes, and wild patterns, though her earlier work was a bit softer and more delicate than her later work.
  • While Quant claimed to have invented the mini-skirt, some people dispute this claim, saying that the mini-skirt was invented by one of several other designers or that it was not invented by any one person, but was rather the logical end point of a continuous trend of shorter hem lengths.
  • In addition to clothing, Quant designed headwear, household goods, and personal care items, like makeup.

The student would like to explain to designers already familiar with Quant the range of her designs. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Quant designed not just clothes we now consider classic, like the mini skirt, but also tried her hand at designing household goods, hats, and makeup.
B. Quant had a distinctive style that changed slightly over the course of her career, moving from slightly more soft and delicate to wild patterns and colors.
C. Mary Quant helped shaped style in the 1960s with her design for the now famous miniskirt.
D. With the consistently shortening hemline as a general trend, Mary Quant showed her design skill by creating the mini-skirt, a now famous look.

6. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • While China’s imperial era is often associated with Emperors, Empress Dowager Cixi who lived from 1835 until 1908 had effective rule over the country from 1861 until her death.
  • Cixi came to power when emperor Zianfeng died, leaving Cixi’s son to inherit the throne at age five.
  • Cixi schemed to overthrow other appointed regents and served as co-regent alongside another advisor Empress Dowager Ci’an for her son’s entire life, since he was seen as a weak ruler.
  • Upon her son’s death Cixi conspired to have her young nephew placed on the throne so that she could continue in her role as regent.

The student would like to explain how Cixi managed to remain regent for so long. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Empress Dowager Cixi reigned as regent for more than 70 years, an impressive feat for any ruler, but most especially for a female ruler of the 19th century.
B. As one of the backbones of China’s imperial era, Empress Dowager Cixi is likely remembered as the longest reigning female monarch, though she was only technically the regent.
C. In order to ensure her power, Cixi overthrew other regents so that she could control the monarchy through her son.
D. Cixi reigned for over 70 years by first serving for regent for her son and then, after his death, scheming to have her nephew put on the throne so that she could continue as regent.

7. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • The first woman to ever be granted membership in the Entomological Society, Cynthia Evelyn Longfield was a renowned entomologist who specialized in the study of dragonflies.
  • Born in 1896, Longfield served in the Army Service Corps in World War One. After the war she traveled extensively, collecting specimens for the Natural History Museum of London.
  • In World War Two she served in the Auxiliary Fire Service.
  • Later in life she was a cataloguer at the Natural History Museum and collected 38 species of butterflies on a trip to South America. Three of those species had never been seen before.

The student wants to emphasize Longfield’s dedication to public service. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. Longfield is best remembered for her trip to South America, on which she catalogued 3 species of dragonflies which had never been seen before.
B. As the first woman to be granted membership in the Entomological Society, Longfield is well remembered in certain circles for her pioneering work with dragonflies.
C. While she is remembered for her entomological work, Longfield served her country in both World Wars I and II first in the Army Service Corps and Later in the Auxiliary Fire Service.
D. Longfield once, in her job for the Natural History Museum, collected 38 species in one single trip to South America.


8. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • Kepler-90 is a star around 2,000 light years away from earth in the Draco constellation. It’s planetary system is quite similar to ours, as was discovered by the Kepler mission in the early 21st century.
  • The Kepler mission was designed to discover planets that orbit their stars by measuring dips in brightness of the stars as the plants cross them.
  • Kepler-90 has 8 planets just like our solar system’s sun does, however, it is thought that several of the planets that orbit Kepler-90 do not rotate on their axes, leaving them half in the dark, much like Earth’s moon.
  • Kepler-90 cannot be seen with the naked eye from Earth.

The student wants to explain the purpose of the Kepler mission and what it discovered at Kepler-90. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. The Kepler mission measured the light coming from stars including Kepler-90—a star about 2,000 light years away from earth.
B. Designed to discover planets orbiting stars, one of the Kepler mission’s findings was the eight planets orbiting Kepler-90, some of them not turning on their axes.
C. Since Kepler-90 cannot be seen with the naked eye, it took a special mission, the Kepler mission, to discover its 8 orbiting planets.
D. The Kepler mission confirmed the presence of many planets by measuring dips in light coming from far distant stars.

9. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • Yang Xiong was a Chinese author and philosopher of the early 1st century CE. He was well-known in his time in the Han dynasty.
  • Yang gained enough praise and acclaim, that he was summoned to imperial capital where he was an officer in charge or composing fu as well as poetry for the emperor.
  • Yang did not think that the nature of humanity was inherently bad or good, but rather, he philosophized that human nature was a mixture of both.
  • His most famous work, Exemplary Sayings, is remembered for his critique of his contemporaries for their overly elaborate writings and their seeming inability to address the greater moral issues of the day.  

A student wants to give an overview of the beliefs of Yang Xiong. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. As a Chinese philosopher of the early 1st century CE, Yang Xiong wrote for the emperor on a regular basis. His work was both poetry and fu as the situation demanded.
B. Exemplary Sayings is Yang Xiongs most well remembered work because  it contained criticisms of other writers.
C. Yang held that man was duel in nature, containing a mix of good and evil and that this and other philosophical concepts should be addressed in the writing of his time.
D. Yang Xiong shunned the elaborate writing of his contemporaries.

10. While researching a topic a student has taken the following notes:

  • In many building trades like woodworking, masonry, and metalworking, workers use what is known as a combination square for a multitude of situations.
  • The combination square is made up of a ruler, and one of may different heads that can be slid over or along the ruler. A worker might use a standard head, a protractor head, or a center finding head.
  • The modern combination square dates back to the 1970s and can be used with its standard head to make 90 degree markings, miter corners, check whether a surface is level, gauge depth, and other activities vital in building.
  • With other heads, the abilities of the combination square are much more complex.

A student wants to explain to a friend a situation in which a combination square with a standard head might be useful. Which choice most effectively uses relevant information from the notes to accomplish this goal?

A. The combination square can be used for a great many things, especially if the person using it has more than one head for the tool.
B. With a standard head, a combination square could be used in building to make sure walls are level and corners meet at exact right angles.
C. Woodworkers, masons, and metalworkers all use the combination head in their daily jobs.
D. Depending on the situation, a builder may switch out the heads of a combination square to complete different tasks.

Solutions

1. D. The question requires that the answer explain why the entire temple can’t be seen today. While the notes given do include information on an early fire, it also explains that the temple was restored after that first fire in 64 CE. That would point us to the second fire in 363 CE as the final destruction of the temple and the reason why it is not visible today, making answer option D the correct answer. Answer option A explains why parts are visible today, but not why the rest of the temple is not visible. Answer option B explains the earlier destruction prior to the restoration. Answer option C includes information that does not answer the question.

2. A. The question asks for a general introduction to the building for an audience that is completely unfamiliar with the building. This makes answer A the best option as it gives the best broad background for the building. Option B gives just one detail of the building, not an introduction. Option C gives an introduction to the museum, not the building. Option D gives the origin of the building, but no information as to the rest of its history or relevance today.

3. B. The question asks about the variety found on the stores in the U.S. The final note of the set indicates that, due to lack of protections, in addition to real BVM or TBV there are many knock off products in the U.S. This makes option B the best to answer the question. Option A does not explain the variety available beyond BVM and TBV. Option C explains how to find BVM and TBV, but not what else is on shelves. Option D explains the protections on BVM and TBV but not the variety of other goods available.

4. A. The question asks about the importance of IgG to all humans. Option A best explains that IgG plays a key role in protecting all humans from illnesses. Option B explains how infants get IgG, but not its role. Option C explains how it can be a useful diagnostic, but only for people with certain conditions, not for all humans. Option D implies that IgG is plays only a part in immunity and therefore does not highlight its importance to all humans.

5. A. The question asks for an answer that assumes the reader already knows something about Mary Quant and that explains her range beyond just fashion design. Answer A fulfills this prompt by explaining that she designed household goods, hats, and makeup. Option B is incorrect as it explains a slight and gradual change over time, not a wide range of designs. Option C is incorrect as it gives a general introduction to Quant, but does not explain the range of her designs. Option D is incorrect as it addresses just one of her designs instead of showing her range.

6. D. The question asks for an explanation of how Cixi managed to rule for so long as regent. Option D explains this the best by telling the reader that Cixi ruled not just during her son’s childhood, but also by placing another child on the throne after her son’s death. Options A and B are incorrect as they do not explain how she ruled for 70 years. Option C is incorrect as it explains how Cixi came to power, but not how she retained that power for 70 years.

7. C. The question asks for information on Longfield’s public service, not her entomological activities. This makes C the best option and A, B, and D incorrect.

8. B. The question asks for the purpose of the Kepler mission and what was discovered at Kepler-90. Option B is the best answer as it explains that Kepler was designed to discover planets orbiting stars (its purpose) and what it found at Kepler-90 (8 orbiting plants, some of which do not turn on their axes). Option A explains what Kepler did, but not what it discovered at Kepler-90. Option C explains why the Kepler mission was necessary, but not what its purpose was. Option D does not explain specifically what was discovered at Kepler-90.

9. C. The question asks about Yang Xiong’s beliefs. This is best summed up in option C. Option A explains his work. Option B explains why his work Exemplary Sayings is remembered. Option D explains his attitude toward his contemporaries.

10. B. The question asks for a situation in which a combination square with a standard head would be used. We learn in the notes that with a standard head, the combination square can be used to mark 90 degree (right) angles, miter corners, check for level surfaces, and gauge depth. This makes answer B the best option and the other answer incorrect.

Digital SAT Text Structure and Purpose Reading Practice Questions

The text from these questions is adapted from the book “How to Know the Wildflowers,” by Frances Theodora Parsons.

1. Pliny tells us that the anemone of the classics was so entitled because it opened at the wind’s bidding. The Greek tradition claims that it sprang from the passionate tears shed by Venus over the body of the slain Adonis. At one time it was believed that the wind which had passed over a field of anemones was poisoned and that disease followed in its wake. Perhaps because of this superstition, the flower was adopted as the emblem of sickness by the Persians. Surely our delicate blossom is far removed from any suggestion of disease or unwholesomeness, seeming instead to hold the very essence of spring and purity in its quivering cup.

What choice best states the function of the underlined sentence in the text as a whole?
A. It explains how a plant caused illness historically.
B. It clarifies what Pliny believes about the use of the plant.
C. It presents a hypothesis as to the origin of a historic symbol.
D. It argues against a commonly held belief.

2. Ginseng is well known by name but is yearly becoming more scarce. The aromatic root is so greatly valued in China for its supposed power of combating fatigue and old age that it can only be gathered by order of the emperor. The forked specimens are believed to be the most powerful, and their fancied likeness to the human form has obtained for the plant the Chinese title of Jinchen (from which ginseng is a corruption), and the Indian one of Garntoguen, both of which, strangely enough, are said to signify like a man.


What choice best describes the function of the underlined information in text as a whole?
A. It explains the origin of an English word.
B. It clarifies a common mispronunciation of a Chinese word.
C. It gives the reader irrelevant information.
D. It allows the reader to visualize the plant.

3. He who seeks the cool shade of the evergreens on a hot July day is likely to discover the nodding wax-like flowers of this little plant. They are delicate and pretty, with a background of shining leaves. These leaves when young have a pleasant aromatic flavor similar to that of the sweet birch; they are sometimes used as a substitute for tea. The bright red berries are also edible and savory and are much appreciated by the hungry birds and deer during the winter. If not thus consumed, they remain upon the plant until the following spring when they either drop or rot upon the stem, thus allowing the seeds to escape.


What choice best describes the function of the underlined sentence in the text as a whole?
A. It concludes the text with a detail about the safety of berry consumption.
B. It helps the reader understand how evergreens spread.
C. It clarifies the nutritional value of berries to the birds and deer.
D. It builds on the claim of the previous sentence.

4. The common knotweed, P. aviculare, which grows in such abundance in country dooryards and waste places, has slender, often prostrate, stems, and small greenish flowers, which are clustered in the axils of the leaves or spike at the termination of the stems. This is perhaps the “hindering knotgrass” to which Shakespeare refers in the “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” so terming it, not on account of its knotted trailing stems, but because of the belief that it would hinder the growth of a child.

What choice best describes the function of the underlined selection in the text as a whole?
A. It introduces a term from literature that will later be clarified.
B. It provides direct evidence for a previous claim.
C. It gives the exact words of a noted botanist.
D. It explains the use of a previously explained.

5. Despite the difference in the spelling of the names, it has been suggested [about the pokeweed] that the plant was called after President Polk. This is most improbable, as it was common throughout the country long before his birth, and its twigs are said to have been plucked and worn by his followers during his campaign for the Presidency.

What choice best describes the function of the underlined sentence in the text as a whole?
A. It provides evidence as to the origin of the name Pokeweed.
B. It explains where a term originated.
C. It presents chronological information to assuage the reader’s doubts.
D. It refutes a claim as to the origin of a term.

6. This [Queen Anne’s Lace] is believed to be the stock from which the garden carrot was raised. The vegetable was well known to the ancients, and we learn from Pliny that the finest specimens were brought to Rome from Candia. When it was first introduced into Great Britain is not known, although the supposition is that it was brought over by the Dutch during the reign of Elizabeth. In the writings of Parkinson, we read that the ladies wore carrot leaves in their hair in place of feathers. One can picture the dejected appearance of a ball-room belle at the close of entertainment.


What choice best describes the function of the underlined sentence in the text as a whole?
A. It presents literary evidence of a novel use for carrots.
B. It explains the depth and breadth of a tradition.
C. It helps the reader visualize Queen Elizabeth.
D. It gives evidence for the previous thought.

7. Some October day, as we pick our way through the salt marches which lie back of the beach, we may spy in the distance a thicket which looks as though composed of such white-flowered shrubs as belongs to June. Hastening to the spot we discover that the silky-tufted seeds of the female groundsel tree are responsible for our surprise. The shrub is much more noticeable and effective at this season than when—a few weeks previous—it was covered with its small white or yellowish flower-heads.

What choice best describes the function of the underlined sentence in the text as a whole?
A. It sets the scene for a shocking discovery later in the text.
B. It describes an interesting discovery that is later explained in the text.
C. It sets the scene for an unusual activity.
D. It helps the reader visualize a normal setting.

8. The yellow lady’s slipper usually blossoms in May or June, a few days later than its pink sister, C. acaule. Regarding its favorite haunts, Mr. Baldwin says: “Its preference is for maples, beeches, and particularly butternuts, and for sloping of hilly ground, and I always look with glad suspicion at a knoll covered with ferns, cohoshes, and trilliums, expecting to see a clump of this plant among them. Its sentinel-like habit of choosing ‘slightly places’ leads it to venture well up on mountain sides.”


What choice best describes the function of the underlined phrase in the text as a whole?
A. It explains why the author does not believe Mr. Baldwin.
B. It gives a reason why Mr. Baldwin is suspicious of the yellow lady’s slipper.
C. It explains where Mr. Baldwin expects to find yellow lady’s slipper.
D. It explains what plants Mr. Baldwin expects to find on knolls.

9. If Emerson’s definition of a weed, as a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered, be correct, we can hardly place the dandelion in that category, for its young sprouts have been valued as a pot-herb, its fresh leaves enjoyed as a salad, and its dried roots used as a substitute for coffee in various countries and ages. The feathery-tufted seeds which form the downy balls beloved as “clocks” by country children, are delicately and beautifully adapted to dissemination by the wind. The common name is a corruption of the French dent de lion.


What choice best describes the function of the quotation marks around the underlined word in the overall structure of the text?
A. They place emphases on the word.
B. They show that the word is a direct quote from Emerson.
C. They show that, while they are treated like clocks, dandelions are not actual clocks.
D. They show that the word inside is not truly part of the sentence.

10. “Too well known as a pernicious weed which is difficult to extirpate,” is the scornful notice which the botany gives to Common St. John’s-wort whose bright yellow flowers are noticeable in waste fields and along roadsides nearly all summer. Its rank, rapid growth proves very exhausting to the soil, and every New England farmer wishes it had remained where it rightfully belongs—on the other side of the water.


What choice best describes the function of the underlined phrase in the overall structure of the text?
A. It explains the origin of St. John’s-wort.
B. It explains the origin of the farmers.
C. It clarifies the location of the St. John’s-wort.
D. It clarifies the location of the farmers.

Answer Explanations

1. C. In the passage, we learn that a story of wind passing over a field of anemones causing the wind to be poisoned and lead to disease. The next sentence uses the word “perhaps” to speculate that this may have been where an ancient symbol of disease originated. This makes (C) the best answer option. It is not (A) since this is a story, not a historical fact. It is not (B) as this is not something Pliny believed, but rather something modern historians hypothesize. It is not (D) since it does not argue against this belief.

2. A. We learn in the first sentence of the text that the text is discussing the plant Ginseng. The parenthetical information (the information between the parenthesis) clarifies that from this name comes “a corruption” of the Chinese title of the plant: Jinchen. This makes option (A) the best answer. Answer (B) is incorrect since Ginseng is an English word with a Chinese origin, not a mispronunciation of a Chinese word. Answer (C) is incorrect since the information is not irrelevant to the discussion. Answer (D) is incorrect as it does not give any idea of Ginseng’s visual appearance.

3. B. In the text, we learn that evergreens have bright berries that are often eaten by birds or deer. The underlined sentence then concludes that if they are not eaten, they fall or rot, thus spreading the seeds. With the spread of seeds, the evergreens also spread. This makes option (B) the best answer. Option (A) is incorrect as the underlined portion does not give any details about the safety of consuming berries. Option (C) is incorrect as it does not explain the nutritional value of eating the berries. Option (D) is incorrect as the previous sentence does not make a claim about uneaten berries.

4. A. The term “hindering knotgrass” is an unknown term when first introduced. The rest of the sentence explains that this was a term used by Shakespeare and that the author believes that Shakespeare may have been referring to the plant knotweed and why. This makes answer (A) the best option. (B) is incorrect as “hindering knotgrass” is not evidence of anything. (C) is incorrect as Shakespeare is not a noted botanist. (D) is incorrect as the term is not previously explained term.

5. D. The second sentence explains why it isn’t possible that pokeweed was named after President Polk. This makes sentence (D) the best option—the term “pokeweed” didn’t come from President Polk. (A) and (B) are the exact opposite of what the sentence is doing. (C) is incorrect as it does not assuage doubts.

6. D. In the previous sentence the author states that it is thought that the carrot came to England during the reign of Elizabeth. The next sentence gives evidence for this by explaining that ladies were wearing carrot leaves in their hair, meaning the carrots must have been brought over. Option (A) is incorrect as it is historical evidence, not literary evidence. Option (B) is incorrect as there is no evidence that the wearing of carrot leaves is a tradition, rather it seems to have been a fad. Option (C) is incorrect as the sentence does not describe how Queen Elizabeth looked, but rather an accessory that she might have worn.

7. B. The sentence in question notes that “we” are out walking in October, yet see plants in the distance that look like they have June flowers on them. This is an interesting discovery. The rest of the text goes on to explain the plant that has these curious late-season flowers. This makes (B) the best option. (A) is incorrect as we can’t describe this as a shocking discovery. Option (C) is incorrect as the plant is unusual, not the activity. (D) is incorrect as the sentence helps the reader visualize an unusual setting (with flowers in October) not a normal setting.

8. C. The underlined sentence explains that the speaker, Mr. Balwin, always looks with “glad suspicion” at certain areas, “expecting to see a clump of this plant” (C. Acaule). This means he expects to find C. Acaule among the other plants mentioned, making option (C) the best answer. Answer (A) is incorrect as these are Mr. Baldwin’s words, not suspicion on the part of the author. Option (B) is incorrect as Mr. Baldwin is not suspicious of a plant, but rather looks “suspiciously” at where the plant grows. Option (D) is incorrect as he doesn’t expect knolls in general to have certain plants, but when they have fens, cohoshes, and trilliums, he expects to find yellow lady’s slipper as well.

9. C. In this instance the quotation marks are being used as a person might use what we call “air quotes” to show that the speaker does not mean the literal use of the word. (C) is the best option as the author does not mean to say that the dandelions are being used as literal clocks. Option (A) is incorrect as the quotes are used to show non-standard use of the word, not to place emphasis. Option (B) is incorrect as the word is not a direct quote. Option (C) is incorrect as the word “clocks” is indeed part of the sentence.

10. A. The New England farmer wishes that the plant had remained “on the other side of the water”. In this case, there is only one body of water that all New England farmers could refer to in such a vague way—the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, St. Joh’s Wort must have origins somewhere on the other side of the ocean. This makes option (A) the best answer. Option (B) is incorrect as it is the origin of the plant, not the farmers, to which is being referred. Option (C) is incorrect as St. John’s wort has spread, and so its original location is no longer its only location. It is not option (D) as the farmers are in New England.

Digital SAT Standard English Conventions Practice Questions

1. Despite a fearsome cough that for two months racked his ___________ three ribs in a particularly violent episode — the decrepit nobleman had greedily held fast his grip on life.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. torso — cracking
b. torso, cracking
c. torso: cracking
d. torso crackin

2. Naturally, Sweden’s aggressive new policies came with a price tag — particularly its massive investment in ___________ creating a large federal deficit, in 1934 Sweden became the first country to fully emerge from the Depression and foreign creditors were quickly recompensed.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. public work’s projects. But despite
b. public works projects: but despite
c. public works projects. But despite
d. public work’s projects; but despite

3. Although Mendeleev’s table eliminated the chemical inconsistencies of the telluric helix, ___________
by standard chemical terminology, large pockets of the scientific community remained resistant to the notion of periodicity.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. and were accompanied
b. and was accompanied
c. and accompanied
d. and accompanies

4. The very scope of the action dictates the terms of this contract and renders the least modification of them inadmissible, something making them null and void. Thus, although perhaps they have never been stated ___________ the same everywhere and tacitly conceded and recognized everywhere.


Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. in so many words, they are
b. in so many words: they are
c. in so many words they are
d. in, so many words, they are

5. For the next forty years, Michelangelo continued to introduce the stark, complex, and disturbing motifs found in his Library to the architecture, sculptures, and paintings ___________ the Mannerist movement.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?

a. that would later come, to christen
b. that would later come to christen
c. that would later come too christen
d. that would later come for christen

6. Remarkable, ___________ through the frosted window to where Lady Cress was dancing a quadrille. She’s gone along with this the whole while.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?

a. thought Forsythe: gazing back
b. thought Forsythe gazing back
c. thought Forsythe gazing, back
d. thought Forsythe, gazing back

7. Apart from extending unemployment benefits, the government also reinforced its agricultural industry by subsidizing farms when necessary ___________ to protect the price of domestically grown crops.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. and established tariffs
b. and having established tariffs
c. and established tariff
d. and establishing tariffs

8. Unfortunately, because Chancourtois inexplicably included several polyatomic ions on the helix, and published his report using ___________ was largely ignored.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. geological, rather than chemical terminology, his discovery
b. geological rather than chemical terminology his discovery
c. geological rather than chemical terminology, his discovery
d. geological, rather than chemical terminology his discovery

9. The social contract’s terms, when they are well understood, can be reduced to a ___________ member alienates himself totally to the whole community together with all his rights.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. single stipulation: the individual
b. single stipulation, the individual
c. single stipulation the individual
d. single stipulation: the individual,

10. Disquieting in design, and utterly without regard for classical convention, the vestibule is an exceedingly high, narrow room, whose massive dark and imposing staircase seems to push visitors outward, ___________

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. rather than invited them inside.
b. rather than offering an invitation to come in.
c. rather than giving to guests the opportunity to enter.
d. rather than inviting them inside.

11. Many of the pieces in the room are composed of natural, local materials of Latin America. Other pieces throughout the exhibition ___________ traditional design but are reconstructed out of contemporary materials (like aluminum or fiberglass).

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. reflect
b. will reflect
c. reflects
d. has reflected

12. Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited lung disease affecting the secretory ___________ responsible for producing mucus and sweat. This disease causes debilitating breathing and digestive deficiency.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. glands, they are
b. glands; which are
c. glands, which is
d. glands, which are

13. Plato argues that taboos and societal norms influence our ability to change the form of societal ___________
that conventional ideas and historical traditions can prevent civilizations from being able to imagine new systems of organization.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. structure, insofar
b. structure insofar
c. structure; insofar
d. structure. Insofar

14. Fourteen years have come and gone, bringing with them 256 wins, 9 All-Star games, and 2 World Series of my very own. My elbow is shot, my shoulder is in tatters, and my back barks at me when I get out of bed every morning, ___________ I can walk away from this game with my head held high and my heart full of pride.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. for
b. but
c. and
d. so

15. The Cannibalism Manifesto, written by Oswald de Andrade and published in 1928, critiqued European colonialism and expressed that Brazil’s greatest strength ___________ to “cannibalize” other cultures by actively selecting and reappropriating the cultural principles of others in a new way.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. was their ability
b. is their ability
c. is its ability
d. was its ability

16. Moderno explores the progression of interior design and its relation to daily ___________ also questioning how design reflected the political climate of the time.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. life, but
b. life: but
c. life, while
d. life; while

17. As sweat is produced from sweat glands, cells near the skin absorb the sodium, chloride, and other ions produced ___________ cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) does not allow for absorption to occur. This, in turn, can lead to grave complications.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. by the glands. On the other hand, a missing
b. by the glands but, a missing
c. by the glands, however, a missing
d. by the glands. However, a missing

18. Plato seeks to replace the kinship system with a new model in which people who aren’t blood relatives still interact in ways now reserved for familiar ___________ forms a communal family: “every time he meets any of them, he will assume he is meeting his brother, or sister, or, mother, or son, or daughter — or the child or parent of one of these.”

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. relations, in his vision, the city-state
b. relations. In his vision, the city-state
c. relations; in his vision the city-state
d. relations in his vision. The city-state

19. Life, we’ve seemingly ___________ a commodity most effectively measured in years.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. arbitrarily decided, is
b. arbitrarily decided: is
c. arbitrarily decided is
d. arbitrarily, decided is

20. Money that was previously pumped into developing markets is now being funneled toward a much ___________ the general feeling among the electorate is that the country is as healthy as ever.

Which choice completes the text so that it conforms to the conventions of Standard English?
a. safer, yet no less promising, Stockholm, and
b. safer yet no less promising Stockholm, and
c. safer, yet no less promising Stockholm, and
d. safer yet no less promising Stockholm and

Answer Explanations

  1. A. When there is extra information interrupting an independent clause two commas or two dashes may be used to show the reader that the information is extra. In this sentence, the phrase “cracking three ribs in a particularly violent episode” is extra. Since there is a dash at the end of that extra information there must be a matching dash at the beginning, making (A) correct. Answer option (B) would be correct if there were a comma after the word episode. Answer options (C) and (D) both are incorrect ways of showing that there is extra information in a sentence.
  2. C. Answers (A) and (D) can be eliminated since they use the possessive “works” instead of the plural “works”. The works don’t own anything, so “work’s” is incorrect. A colon is used to connect an independent clause to a clarification or explanation, so (B) is incorrect. Since the punctuation is connecting two complete sentences, or independent clauses, a period is the best option.
  3. B. This question is, in part, asking us to select the verb that would best fit in the blank. On questions like this it is important to identify the subject of the verb. What is the “thing” that is “doing the action”. In this case, what is being accompanied or accompanying the standard chemical terminology. The “table” is the subject, but the table isn’t accompanying anything, rather, it is being accompanied by the standard chemical terminology. Since we are in the past tense (as shown by the word “eliminated”) “and was accompanied” (B) is our best option since it is singular to match “table” and doesn’t force the table to do the accompanying.
  4. A. Within the sentence the phrase “although perhaps they have never been stated in so many words” would be considered extra information, since it is interrupting “thus they are the same everywhere and tacitly conceded and recognized everywhere.” Extra information is shown by putting a comma or dash before (after the word “thus”) and after (after the words “words”) it. Answer option (A) is the right answer. Answer options (B) and (C) do not put a comma after the word “words” and answer option (D) has a non-necessary extra comma after the word “in”.
  5. B. Since there are no clauses being connected and no extra information beginning or ending in the blank, no punctuation is needed. This eliminates option (A). Option (C) is incorrect as it uses “too” which is synonymous with “also”. Answer option D is incorrect since “for” is the incorrect word choice. Option (B) is correct since it lacks any punctuation and has the correct “to”.
  6. D. Within the sentence, the phrase “thought Forsythe” should be separated from the rest of the sentence since it is describing where the quotation “remarkable” is coming from. In English this is generally done by putting a comma before and after the descriptor. In this case, we have a comma after “remarkable”, so we need a matching comma after “Forsythe”. This makes option (D) correct and the other options incorrect. Another way to figure this out would be to read the sentence “out loud” in your head and hear the pause after “Forsythe”.
  7. D. The government “reinforce its agricultural industry” by doing two things. The first thing they did was “subsidizing farms” the second thing they do, therefore, should have the same verb tense. This makes (D) “and establishing tariffs” correct and the other answers incorrect.
  8. C. In order to figure out where commas should go, start by identifying clauses and looking for extra information. There is no extra information in this sentence, but there are two separate clauses. The second clause “his discovery was largely ignored” is independent, since it can be a sentence on its own. The first clause is dependent. Independent and dependent clauses are connected with a single comma. This makes answer option ( C) correct as it has a single comma after the end of the first clause. (A) uses two commas around a phrase that is not extra, (B) is a run on sentence since the two clauses are not correctly connected, and (D) puts the comma in the middle of the dependent clause instead of between the independent and dependent clauses.
  9. A. A colon connects an independent clause to an explanation or clarification of that independent clause. In this case, the second part of the sentence is clarifying what the “single stipulation” is from the first part of the sentence. This means that a colon is the most appropriate punctuation to have after the word “stipulation”. Thus, options (B) and (C) are incorrect. Option (D) is incorrect as there is no reason to put a comma after the word “individual”. There are no clauses being connected or extra information in this place.
  10. D. Good writing gets the point across as clearly and directly as possible. Answers (B), and (C) say the same thing in less succinct ways and are therefore incorrect. (A) uses the incorrect form of the verb “to invite”.
  11. A This passage is in the present as can be seen in the use of the very “are” twice. Therefore, the verb will be in the present. (B) is in the future and (D) is in the past, making both options incorrect. (C) uses the singular “reflects” to refer to multiple pieces. The plural tense “reflect” (A) is the correct option. If the difference between singular and plural verb tense confuses you, just listen: would you say “the pieces reflect” or the “the pieces reflects”?
  12. D. Remember to identify cluses as you make decisions about punctuation. A comma can connect a dependent and independent clause; a semicolon connects two independent clause. (A) is incorrect as it is connecting two independent clauses with just a coma. (B) is incorrect as it connects an independent and dependent clause with a semicolon. (C) is incorrect as it uses the singular “is” to refer to the plural “glands”. (D) is the best option as it uses a comma to connect an independent and dependent clause and uses the plural “are” to refer to the plural “glands.”
  13. B. Since there is only one clause, no punctuation is needed. (A) is incorrect as a comma would connect a dependent and independent clause. (C) and (D) are incorrect as they would connect two independent clauses.
  14. B. Think about the author’s intended meaning. This is a situation where the author is setting up a contrast between the negatives of the physical toll on his body with the positives of the pride he feels. In order to show this contrast “but” is the best option. The other answer options to not make logical sense with the contrast set up in the passage.
  15. C. The subject of the very in question is the strength of Brazil, a singular subject. Consequently, answer options (A) and (B) are incorrect as they us the plural “their” to refer to the strength. (D) is incorrect as it is in the past tense.
  16. C. Since the second clause is not independent, options (A) and (D) are incorrect. Both a comma with one of the FANBOYS and a semi-colon connect two independent clauses. Answer option (B) is incorrect since a colon is designed to go after an independent clause but before a clarification or explanation. The second part Is not clarifying the first. This leaves option (C) where a comma connects an independent and dependent clause.
  17. D. Since both clauses are independent, we must have the correct wording and punctuation to connect them. (A) is incorrect as “on the other hand” does not correctly express the author’s intention. (B) is incorrect since it puts the comma after the fanboy, not before. (C) is incorrect as it connects two independent clauses with a comma. If the comma after “glands” was turned into a semicolon, it would be correct. (D) is the best answer since it ends the first independent clause with a comma, uses correct wording, and has a comma after the introductory work “however”.
  18. B. Answer option (B) is the best answer since it ends the independent clause with a period and has the appropriate comma after the introductory phrase on the second independent clause. (A) is incorrect as it connects two independent clauses with a comma, creating a run-on sentence. (C) is incorrect: while it correctly connects two independent clauses with a semicolon, it lacks the necessary comma after the introductory phrase “in his vision”. (D) is incorrect as it has no punctuation to connect the two independent clauses.
  19. A. In this sentence “we’ve seemingly arbitrarily decided” is extra information. Standard English requires a comma both before and after extra information. Answer option (A) is the only answer option that correctly puts a comma after the word “decided”.
  20. A. In this sentence the phrase “yet no less promising” is extra information, requiring a comma both before and after to set it apart from the rest of the sentence. In addition, there are two independent clauses with the word “and” in between. One option for connecting two independent clauses is a comma along with one of the FANBOYS. We therefore need a comma before the “and”. Option (A) is the only answer that correctly places those three commas within the sentence.

Using Your PSAT Scores

The first Digital PSAT was administered to students throughout the United States in October of 2023. In past years, most students did not receive their results until December. This year, PSAT results will be available much earlier–some PSAT test scores will come out on November 6th, and some will come out on November 16th. How can you make the best use of your PSAT results?

See if you may qualify for National Merit Scholarship Recognition. Look at your National Merit Selection Index, which ranges between 48-228 and is calculated by doubling your Reading/Writing score and adding this to your Math score. Depending on the state or territory in which you live, the selection index is likely to be anywhere between 207 and 223. For example, New Mexico and North Dakota have lower selection indices, while New Jersey and Massachusetts have higher selection indices.

Use the BigFuture application to connect with colleges and scholarship opportunities. Go to https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/bigfuture-school-mobile-app to download the app. One of the biggest reasons for the PSAT is so that colleges can use the results to connect with students who may be a good fit for their student body. Be prepared to get plenty of emails from colleges who are interested in having you apply.

Do targeted review using Khan Academy. Be sure your College Board account is connected to Khan Academy. Here is an article on how to do this. Once your account is connected, Khan Academy can provide review materials for you based on the types of questions you missed on the PSAT.

Prepare for the Digital SAT that starts in March of 2024. The Digital PSAT gave you an excellent preview of the Digital SAT, since both tests have the same format, timing, and interface. Use your PSAT results to help you determine where you most need to focus your preparation leading up to the actual SAT. If you need help with your preparation, our highly trained Digital SAT tutors are ready to assist.

Digital SAT Tutoring Myths and Facts

The SAT will be making the most significant change in its history when it switches from a linear, paper-based test to an adaptive, computer-based test in March of 2024 for students in the United States.  Given this overhaul, many tutors and test prep companies may not present the reality of what high quality Digital SAT and Digital PSAT test preparation should entail.  Let’s break down the three biggest Digital SAT Myths and set the facts straight. 

Myth #1:  You can use the same materials to prepare for the Digital SAT as you did for the paper SAT. 

Fact:  The Digital SAT has many never-before-seen SAT question types that require a complete overhaul to current test prep. 

The Digital SAT has many new types of questions:

  • Rhetorical Synthesis writing questions that ask you to integrate information to accomplish a task
  • Targeted Quantitative and Textual Evidence questions that ask you to determine what would support or undermine an argument
  • Poetry, Humanities, and Drama Analytical Reading questions
  • Mathematics questions that allow the use of a built-in Desmos Calculator
  • Individual Digital SAT reading/writing questions accompanied by short texts of no more than 150 words (instead of the current multi-question passages of up to 750 words)

Given all these changes, using the same old books and materials as used with the current SAT will not work.  To make the changes even more significant, a major source of material for many test prep providers will no longer be available.  The Question-and-Answer Service currently allows students who take the SAT in March, May, or October to pay for access to their test booklets and answers.  Many test prep providers make copies of these booklets and use them as the material for their students.  The College Board is putting an end to this practice by no longer having the Question-and-Answer service.  Periodically, new practice tests will be made available online, but there will be far less material available directly from the test makers. Given this lack of material, many test prep providers may suggest that the paper-based Question and Answer services will work to prepare students for the Digital SAT.  While there are some overlaps in the math and grammar content of the old SAT and the Digital SAT, it would be a disservice to students to not have a new body of material ready to go for the redesigned test. 

Myth #2:  The same strategies and methods that worked on the paper SAT will work on the Digital SAT. 

Fact:  The adaptive nature and new interface of the Digital SAT demand major changes to testing strategies and instructional methods. 

The Digital SAT will have a section-adaptive format in which the second module of the Reading/Writing and the second module of the Math will be easier or more difficult depending on the student’s performance on the earlier module of each type.  This means that each question will have more of an impact on the score and that students may feel more stressed when they try to predict whether they are taking the easier or more difficult module.  Digital SAT tutors should be able to help students develop a personalized plan to manage their pacing and test anxiety given these new parameters.

The Digital SAT has an extremely useful Desmos calculator embedded into its interface, enabling students to use new approaches to attack inequalities, systems of equations, parabola problems, and absolute value questions.  A high-quality Digital SAT tutor can show students how to fully take advantage of this new calculator tool, along with other embedded tools like the annotation feature, answer-eliminator, and countdown timer. 

Currently, the strategies for the paper-based SAT reading passages are geared towards helping students focus for longer periods of time to absorb the general meaning of a 750-word text.  Also, students on the paper-based SAT can skip around on questions when they don’t fully understand the meaning of the text, trying more specific and easier questions before attempting broader and more difficult questions on a given passage.  With the Digital SAT reading questions, students will need to think deeply about shorter selections of text and thoroughly consider argumentative evidence on several questions.  There will also be a much greater emphasis on vocabulary knowledge with words-in-context questions, so students should be sure to bolster their knowledge of complex words.  Tutors must update their instruction to reflect the new reading comprehension strategies needed to succeed on the Digital SAT. 

Myth #3:  Everyone should just take the ACT since it is familiar. 

Fact:  Tutors should recommend the Digital SAT or the ACT based on what is best for the student, not for the tutor. 

The ACT has remained in roughly its current form for many years, and there is a wealth of preparation books and released tests available for students and tutors to use.  Since the Digital SAT represents a true revolution in test prep, the business models of many tutors may be at risk—they will no longer have the Question-and-Answer services available from College Board to create their curriculum.  Thus, many tutors may recommend that students steer clear of the Digital SAT.  While the ACT may be better for some students and the Digital SAT better for others, be wary of those who may recommend the ACT simply because it has been around for longer.  Many students will like the new format of the Digital SAT and should not be dissuaded from trying it simply because a switch to this test would be inconvenient for the tutor. 

If you need help preparing for the Digital SAT, we at BWS Education are ready to go with updated methods and materials to help you do your very best. We had the first publication about the Digital SAT to market in August of 2022, a comprehensive Digital PSAT book released in May of 2023, and an upcoming Digital SAT book coming out in August of 2023. All these books have questions and strategies fully aligned with the very latest information from College Board.  We have also compiled a wealth of free Digital SAT Resources for anyone to use.  When you prep with BWS, you will work with tutors who are at the very cutting edge of the transformation of the SAT.  We look forward to working with you.