Verbs.Start here. If there is a verb underlined in the sentence, you need to check:
- Subject/Verb Agreement. The SAT’s favorite ways to trick you include:
- Prepositional phrases (The display case of trophies at the top of the stairs in my father’s house is very old.)
- Appositives (The display case, an enclosure of glass and wood in which my father showcases his many awards, is very old.)
- Subject after verb (Hidden in the back of the display case are my father’s high school report cards.)
- Compound subjects (A baseball, a bat, and a catcher’s glove were found in the player’s closet.)
- Verb Tense. Often multiple tenses are appropriate for a particular sentence, and even though you might be able to imagine a different tense, the one that’s used is not wrong. Make sure, however, that the SAT isn’t using the present tense to discuss an event that very clearly happened in the past (i.e. a scientific discovery made in 1880). Also, make sure the tense plays nicely with the other, non-underlined verbs in the sentence.
Pronouns.If the verbs are ok, you need to check all underlined pronouns.
- Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement. Common tricks:
- The use of “their” when the antecedent is singular (Every coach wants their his or her team to win.)
- The use of non-personal pronouns for people (The book was about the lives of three teenagers, all of which whom grew up in New Orleans.)
Parallelism.There are two very commonly tested parallelism rules, and then some miscellaneous things that you might see once in a while.
- Lists. If a sentence is listing two or more things, make sure every element in the list is parallel in every way.
- Verb conjugations (There are two ways Rick knows to kill zombies: to shoot them in the head or setting to set them on fire.)
- Mixing nouns and verbs (My favorite things are pizza, dogs, and going hiking hikes.
- Preposition use (A good vocabulary will take you far in your career, your education, and in your personal life.)
- Comparisons. Only like things can be compared to each other. For more info on this, see this post.
- Possession (Even though he is only a shoe salesman, Justin’s income is higher than his boss that of his boss because he’s also an underground street fighter on the weekends.)
- Miscellaneous. Here are some other things you might see.
- One vs. You (Before you go skydiving, one you should do thorough equipment inspections.)
- Neither/nor (I enjoy neither hiking nor biking.)
- Either/or (I’d be happy with either mini-golf or bowling)
- Not only/but also (My boss was happy that not only did I increase sales in my district, but I also kept my company car spic and span.)