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Tip 16: If Both Answers Are Grammatically Correct, Pick the More Concise One

Tip 16: If Both Answers Are Grammatically Correct, Pick the More Concise One

One of the skills SAT Writing tests is conciseness, or the use of as few words as necessary to convey meaning clearly. Being able to answer concision questions correctly requires knowing not just what the grammatically correct choice is, but which is the best grammatically correct choice.

This might be daunting, especially if you’re not a native English speaker, so we recommend following this tip: if both answers are grammatically correct, choose the most concise one. Here’s an example of a real SAT question with multiple grammatically correct answer choices:

One of the artist’s most famous images showed Tweed with a bag of money in place of his head.

A) NO CHANGE
B) famous and well-known
C) famous and commonly known
D) famous, commonly known

Answer choices A), B), and C) are all grammatically correct replacements for “famous” in the question sentence. So which one is correct? By following the rule of choosing the most concise answer, we can rule out B) and C) to arrive at the correct answer, A).

Note that the correct concise answer isn’t always going to be the shortest (even though it was in this case); it’s the shortest answer that preserves the meaning of the original sentence. In this case, “famous and well-known” and “famous and commonly-known” are both wordier and redundant ways of saying “famous,” so there’s no reason to change the sentence.

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