Monthly Archives: October 2012

16 Oct 2012

SAT Grammar: Learn parallelism to perfect your score… part 1!

February inspired me to write a tutorial on fixing dangling modifiers in the SAT Writing section. In honor of October, I want to address the problem of parallelism.

SAT Writing loves to test your knowledge of parallelism. The section loves it so much, in fact, that it tests parallelism in three different forms! For SAT Writing, you need to know how to use parallelism when writing lists, making comparisons, and when using word pairs (e.g., “not only… but also…”). In this blog entry, I will focus on the rules of parallelism for writing lists. I will address the others in blog entries to come.

List parallelism questions come up most often in the Error Identification portion of the Writing test. However, you may run into them in the Improving Sentences portion too.

What is parallelism? Parallelism is a grammatical principle invoked to maintain balance within a sentence. In grammar, parallelism basically means that similar words, phrases, and clauses must take the same form. Confused? Let’s move on to an example…

I like reading, sleeping and to make art.

This is a pretty friendly sentence: it’s direct and tells us a little bit about what the author likes! Only trouble is that the items in this list aren’t in parallel form. Corrected:

I like reading, sleeping and making art.


I like to read, to sleep and to make art.

Either correction to this sentence is great. It does not matter if we present our hobbies as a series of verbs that end in “ing” (gerunds), or as a list of “to + verbs” (infinitives). All that matters is that we pick one form at the beginning, and stick with it throughout the list.

For the sake of practice, let’s look at a few more examples of good/bad parallelism. After that, we’ll go through a hard-level question from a real SAT.

Bad Parallelism!
Before the SAT, you should eat a healthy breakfast, sleep adequately, and don’t forget your admission ticket!

Good Parallelism!
Before the SAT, you should eat a healthy breakfast, get adequate sleep, and remember your admission ticket!

Bad Parallelism:
As soon as Katrina gets home, she studies biology, bakes cookies, and then she will play basketball.

Good Parallelism!
As soon as Katrina gets home, she studies biology, bakes cookies, and plays basketball.

Bad Parallelism!
The knight was charming, brave, and he had a great body!

Good Parallelism!
The knight was charming, brave, and physically fit!

Bad Parallelism!
Indian summer, Armageddon and being affected by climate change are all possible explanations for this unseasonably warm weather.

Good Parallelism!
Indian summer, Armageddon, and climate change are all possible explanations for this unseasonably warm weather.

Ok, I think you get the idea…


Let’s conclude by solving this hard-level question from a real SAT:

All species of sea turtles are endangered because of overharvesting of adults, their eggs being disturbed, and destruction of nesting habitats.
(A)   of overharvesting of adults, their eggs being disturbed, and destruction of nesting habitats
(B)   of the adults being overharvested, their eggs disturbed, and destroying nesting habitats
(C)   the overharvesting of adults, disturbance of their eggs, and destruction of nesting habits
(D)   the adults are overharvested, their eggs are disturbed, and their nesting habits are destroyed
(E)    being overharvested as adults, their eggs being disturbed, and destruction of nesting habits

Even though this is a hard-level question, we should immediately recognize that it’s testing our knowledge of parallel structure. Why? Because the underlined portion is a list, of course.

According to the principle of parallelism, each item in this list must take the same form. In the first and third items (“overharvesting of adults” and “destruction of nesting habitats“), the verb comes before the noun. However, in the second item (“their eggs being disturbed“) the noun comes before the verb. Ugh! This list is one ugly mishmosh of un-parallel parts!

To fix this sentence, look for the answer choice that presents each item of the list in parallel form. When you have selected your answer, hit the link below to see if you’re correct!

Answer and Explanation

09 Oct 2012

Five Ways to De-stress after the SAT

High school seniors: How did this Saturday’s administration of the SAT go?

Wait! Don’t answer that!


…Because now that the test is over, you should be focused on de-stressing. After all, scores won’t be released for another three weeks! Why get all worked up evaluating your test-performance when you don’t even know your grade?

Yes. I thought you would agree with me. That’s why I wrote this blog entry on five ways to de-stress after the SAT. With these strategies, you can decompress and remain relaxed while you wait for your scores.

Let go of your mistakes

Pencils down!  Turn in the test. Take a deep breath and… Crap! I just remembered the meaning of that vocab word! And it was the answer! Or: Shoot! I should have used the Pythagorean Theorem to solve that math problem I left blank!

An especially crappy aspect of the SAT is that we tend to realize our mistakes once the test is over—and obsess about them endlessly. While reflecting on your test experience is important, it is NOT useful to consume yourself with questions missed. This is because fixating on questions bombed without also acknowledging those we aced can lead us to think we failed the test. In reality, we probably did just fine.

If you truly believe you BOMBED the test (as in, you didn’t answer the questions, got a vomit-inducing migraine, or wrote your essay on Fifty Shades of Gray) you can cancel your scores. Once you decide to do this, however, there is no going back. You must accept this decision without regret, and then start prepping for the next SAT.

Grab lunch with friends

The only fun part of the SAT is eating lunch when it’s over. Once dismissed from the test-site, head to the diner with a few of your friends to eat and laugh off post-SAT stress.

Exercise or Meditate

Exercise is a fantastic way to let go of stress built up during the exam. Not only does exercise trigger the brain to produce endorphins (natural, mood-enhancing hormones) but exercise also requires you to focus on your body’s movements in the present moment—that is, away from the SAT. Finally, exercise is literally exhausting. After a good workout, you’ll simply feel too tired to worry about how you scored on the SAT.

Meditation is also an excellent way to dispense with stress accrued through the day. My last blog entry focused on the benefits of meditation for students. Without restating the whole thing here, I will say that meditation teaches us to accept and let go of frustrations and mistakes. Like exercise, meditation also commands deep, unwavering focus. If you are having trouble enacting de-stressing technique #1, meditation should help you let go of your mistakes and tolerate uncertainty about your scores.

Spend some time with the television  

Months of test-prep on top of regular school work, socializing, and extracurricular activities means you probably missed out on a lot of TV. Celebrate the fact that the SAT is done by watching a movie/TV or by doing another completely passive (but thoroughly relaxing) activity.

Even if you’re planning to test again, allow yourself a couple of study-free days to enjoy some free time and bathe in the television’s soft blue glow.

Remind yourself that all will be fine—even if you bombed the SAT.

As much as the SAT matters… it really doesn’t matter.

Solid SAT scores are a vital part of your application to college, but it’s important to remember that admissions officials also consider your grades, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and personal statement. In other words, the SAT is not the be-all and end-all that determines your fate.

Even if lower-than-desired SAT scores keep you from admission to your top-choice school, you may find yourself at a college better suited to your interests, current academic skillset, and style of learning. In this case, lower-than-desired SAT scores would actually have benefited your personal, social, and academic growth.

The SAT means working hard to do your best on a grueling test, and then putting the experience behind you. Now that the test is over, you should rejoice! No matter your score, you should feel proud of yourself; you have just completed a necessary step on the pathway to college.


These Key SAT Words are Expertly Identified by Sentia Tutors

Accrue: to accumulate