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http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day?src=R&questionId=20130316 (This link takes you to today’s question. If you use my archive, you will see the question related to my SAT explanation for that date.)
The answer is B. You need a form of the verb “to give” that indicates that he will give the speech in the future after he prepared. “Was given” means he gave the speech in the past. That hardly makes sense. Don’t waste time figuring out how to rewrite the verb; just identify the error and move on.
The key to these questions is to make sure all the underlined words and phrases are consistent with the stuff that isn’t underlined. That is, the baseline for the sentence is the non-underlined words. So, you must adjust all the underlined portions to fit with those portions of the sentence. In today’s question, all the non-underlined portions of the sentence are in the past (“George practiced speaking”) which means you have to make when he was going to give the speech occur after the practice. That is what makes sense.
Whenever you see an underlined verb on either the SAT or ACT there are things about the verb you need to consider in addition to tense. For example, be sure it is consistent with any noun that goes with it: singular/plural. In this example, “was given” is okay in that respect since it is singular and goes with the singular pronoun “he.” Then make sure you check the verb’s form: infinitive, present, past, and past participle, etc. DVD #9 has more information about this issue.
Let’s see what the ACT folks prepared for us this morning.
http://www.act.org/qotd/ (The ACT staff does not put a date on their questions so if you click on an archived blog, you’ll get today’s question and the old explanation. Sorry. The SAT staff has dated their questions; so, the archive is helpful. The ACT folks simply don’t do that.)
The answer is F. At least the question tells us where to look in the passage to find the answer which is not nearly as common on the ACT as it is on the SAT. Use my strategy of inserting the answers back into the passage and if an answer adds to the story, it is wrong. The only one that truly fits is E. The others all add. Answer G adds because there’s no suggestion of the narrator regretting something. Answer H adds because we have no idea the Ms. Sennett is “happy” about leaving the family. We only know that she ends up doing what they want as she did last year–happy or not. Answer J adds as well; there’s no sense of the fact that she has discovered their manipulations and has realized they are taking advantage of her. Perhaps she enjoys the adulation and is manipulating them into crying to prove their love! (Isn’t she a sneaky old woman?) Answer F works since it is clear the family members cry to get her to comply with their wishes. The dad even warns her he will cry if she doesn’t come with them and the kids followed along (lines 81-3).
I think I’ll cry if the ACT folks don’t write some new questions. I think we all should cry! Do you think that will get the test writers off their lazy rear ends?
Enjoy your weekend.