Sentence Skills Test Taking Tips
CONSIDER EACH SENTENCE YOU ARE ASKED TO LOOK AT. What are the possible problems? Below find some common shortcomings inexperienced writers face with a link to the University of Purdue's Online Writing Lab to help you understand these errors more clearly. When taking the test, look for:
1. sentence fragments
2. comma splices
3. agreement of different parts of the sentence
4. verb form
5. logic of sentence ideas
6. smoothness of expression
LOOK AT EACH ANSWER CHOICE SEPARATELY. You might want to use a piece of paper under each choice to help yourself focus on each option one at a time. Ask yourself, "How does each answer change the meaning or structure of the sentence?
READ THE SENTENCES ALOUD. Twenty people reading out loud at once would be absurd, so actually just whisper them to yourself. But by reading aloud you are using another sense to help you. If you HEAR something that sounds wrong, it probably is! Trust your ears.
LOOK FOR WORD CLUES within each sentence and answer. If the original sentence used a "however thought," the right answer might use a "but thought" to say the same thing.BE AWARE THAT, IN MOST CASES, SHORTER IS BETTER. Careful here though, not all the correct answers are the ones with shorter responses; however, when evaluating sentence structure usually the more concise your expression is, or in other words, the more you can say a lot in a little instead of using more words to say the same thing, the better off you'll be. So, if you've narrowed the choices to two and can't decide between them, usually if you choose the shorter answer you will increase your chances of success.
MAKE EDUCATED GUESSES. The score is based on the number right. There is no penalty for the number wrong. So, don't leave blanks. You can't hurt your score, and you might even help it. Use the process of elimination to narrow down your choices. Eliminate answers that you recognize as being wrong. Of the possible answers left, choose the one that seems most likely the right answer, even if it comes down to the one that "sounds better." If there are two answers that are very similar, there's a good chance that one of those responses is the correct one. Why would they put two obviously wrong answers as choices? Odds are they're trying to get you choose between the two. Doing so, will increase your odds. After making thoughtful guesses, do not go back and rehash possible answers. You'll make yourself crazy!
STAY ON TRACK. Make sure you're clicking your selection. If you are rushed or anxious you may get wrong answers just from not being careful with the mouse or the keyboard. Try to stay focused on each task at hand. Thinking about the sections you haven't done will not help you with the section you're on.