Tip #25 to Get a Top SAT Critical Reading Score
The SAT is tricky, but we know and expect their shenanigans. It's like a bad magician whose tricks you can totally predict. The SAT loves two kinds of subject/verb agreement tricks. Every test has at least one of them. They're always rated as "hard" questions, but since we expect them, they're easy for us.
Let's look at this question:
Solution: Great question. The SAT loves these. Every test has at least one! The trick is that "Jimmy" is the subject, not "friends." "Friends walk" sounds correct, but the subject of the verb is "Jimmy," so it should be "Jimmy walks."
Correct answer: C
"How can I ever tell that?" you say. Ahh, my friend, easy. A prepositional phrase, such as "with his closest friends," NEVER counts as the subject. Prepositional phrases always begin with a preposition ("on," "above," "below," "with," "by," "during," "until," . . . just Google "prepositions" for a full list) and end with a noun, such as "friends." Here are a few more prepositional phrases: "of awards," "with six kids," and "on the table."
So when you are identifying the subject of an underlined verb, if there is a prepositional phrase, cross it out! Then subject/verb agreement is obvious, and a "hard" question becomes an "easy!"
with his friends walks
of awards proves
along with six kids goes
The SAT's other trick is to put the subject after the verb. How do you catch these? When you see a verb underlined, look for its subject—notice what is doing the action of the verb. It's easy to tell, as long as you know to look. I love these, they are tricky, but we know they are coming!
Cross out any prepositional phrases between the subject and verb, and underline the subject of the bold verb in each of the following sentences.
- Stephen for two more weeks is single.
- Margarita with her sisters currently runs a marketing firm.
- Running from the bulls is Jimmy with his friends.
- The way of samurais is a strict path.
- Around the corner are a dog and a cat.
- The PTA through generous donations is building a new school building.
- The boys with their dog Alfred walk to school.
Now, let's see these tricks on a few SAT questions.
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