Why is the PSAT even given
can ask. The "Improving Paragraphs" section of the PSAT / NMSQT contains about 15 sentences on a topic. divided into three or four paragraphs. The paragraphs are intended to represent the typical first draft of a student's report or essay.
The sentences are numbered, and the whole thing is accompanied by five questions that you can ask how best to combine two sentences, or which sentence to delete or move. The goal here is to see that you can think about structure (how the ideas are organized, where transitions are needed, etc.) and style (combining or varying sentence patterns).
Grammatical errors crop up in this section, but generally speaking, paragraph enhancement steps back from the micro level to look at the bigger picture. You have the usual five options; Sometimes it's a way to keep everything the same, but not always. Follow paragraph improvement questions this way:
Read all of the paragraphs. First, get an overview. Do not read the questions until you have gone through all the sentences.
Think about the underlying logic. You should be able to see the path from one idea to the next. Each paragraph should be consistent and revolve around a main idea.
Think about how you would improve the paragraphs. If this was your report or essay, would you change anything before handing it in? Don't get to the penalty level yet; think about the whole thing. Jot down some notes in the margin.
Now examine the questions. Depending on how much time you have, you can choose to answer all five questions, or you can choose the simplest ones - ones that deal with combining two sentences or fixing a grammatical mistake. Although questions about paragraph improvement usually remain on the larger level, some problems address in single sentences. If you're short on time, go to these questions first.
Here is a paragraph-enhancement "essay" and practice questions 1 through 5. Good luck!
 Conservationists argue that buildings that were built many decades ago should be preserved and not demolished.  You also want to save newer buildings that are unique.  The buildings have interesting features or an important event took place in them.  A famous poet lived in a building.
 The Collerton Hotel Rescue Committee has raised money for a campaign to save the hotel from developers.  The developers bought the old building a year ago.  The roof is leaking, paint is peeling from the walls.  The developers plan to level the site.  They want to build 15 houses there.  The houses will bring new families to the city, they say, and spur economic development.
 Conservationists and developers will likely never agree.  The developers make good arguments for a more prosperous city.  The preservationists argue that history is important.  The city council will vote soon.  At that time, one side will win, although no decision can be made for everyone.
Which of the following would improve paragraph 1?
(A) No change.
(B) Delete sentence 2.
(C) Delete sentence 3.
(D) Add information about the poet from sentence 4.
(E) Delete sentence 4 and information about the Collerton Hotel.
What change, if any, would improve Sentence 7 the most?
(A) No change.
(B) The roof is leaking and paint is peeling off the walls.
(C) If the roof leaks, paint will also peel off the walls.
(D) The roof is escaping although the paint is peeling off the walls.
(E) There is a leaking roof and peeling paint.
How can sentences 8 and 9 best be combined?
(A) The developers plan to level the site and build 15 houses there.
(B) In order to be able to build 15 houses there, the developers plan to level the website.
(C) After the website has been smoothed, the developers want to build 15 houses.
(D) After the leveling, the developers want to build 15 houses.
(E) The developers will level the site and build 15 houses.
Which change would improve paragraph 2?
(A) No change.
(B) Delete sentence 5.
(C) Add the arguments made by the Collerton Hotel saving committee.
(D) Delete sentence 10.
(E) Add more information about the cost of the developer project.
What is the best revision of paragraph 3?
(A) No change.
(B) Add your own opinion.
(C) Include information about city council procedures.
(D) Include offers from council members.
(E) Delete sentence 15.
Now check your answers.
Since the essay discusses a particular struggle - whether race (kneel down, level) a hotel - should this problem arise in the first paragraph. At the moment the paragraph is too general. Sentence 4 is way too vague and doesn't add anything to the essay, so Choice (E) is your answer.
The original sentence is a run-on in which two complete thoughts are glued together with just a comma. No! Option (B) adds a conjunction and corrects the grammatical error. Choices (C) and (D) are grammatically correct, but they bring ideas outside of the logical framework.
Choice (E) has a grammatical error: the subject is plural ("roof and Color "), so the verb must also be plural. In other words, the sentence should start with" There is ", not" There is "."
Smooth and short: That is your goal when combining sentences. Of course, you also need to keep the meaning and use the correct grammar. Selection (A) is correct.
Paragraph 2 provides some specific information about the developers' plans, but does not say anything about what the committee wants to do or why members feel the hotel should be saved. The reader cannot be involved in a dispute with only one side making a case. Choice (C) is the answer.
The last sentence is obvious and does not add anything to the essay. Empty it by choosing Option (E).
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