SAT Writing Practice Problems: Parallel Structure, Agreement, and Tense

By Ron Woldoff

The SAT Writing and Language section contains several questions related to parallel structure—that is, whether the parts of a sentence doing a particular job are grammatically consistent. For example, a subject and verb must agree by both being single or plural, and verb tense must also be consistent.

In the following practice questions, you have to decide whether the verbs are agreeing in number with the nouns they describe.

Practice questions

Question 1 is based on the following information.

The following passage is an excerpt from A Practical Guide to Scientific Data Analysis, by David J. Livingstone (Wiley-Blackwell).

Perhaps one of the most familiar concepts in statistics (1) are the frequency distributions. A plot of a frequency distribution is shown in Figure 2.1, where the ordinate (y-axis) represents the number of occurrences of a particular value of a variable given by the scales of the abscissa (x-axis).

  1. Regarding the underlined passage
    A. NO CHANGE
    B. are frequency distributions
    C. is the frequency distribution
    D. DELETE the underlined portion

    Question 2 is based on the following information.
    The following passage is an excerpt from Biology For Dummies, by Rene Fester Kratz, PhD, and Donna Rae Siegfried (Wiley).

    In the inner membranes of the mitochondria in your cells, hundreds of little cellular machines are busily working to transfer energy from food molecules to ATP. The cellular machines are called electron transport chains, and they’re made of a team of proteins that (2) is seated in the membranes transferring energy and electrons throughout the machines.

  2. Regarding the underlined passage
    A. NO CHANGE
    B. sits
    C. has been seated
    D. are seated

Answers and explanations

  1. The correct answer is Choice (C).
    “One . . . is” is correct.
  2. The correct answer is Choice (B).
    “A team . . . sits” is correct and more concise than “A team . . . that is seated.”