My daughter will start college in less than two years, so she is preparing to take the SAT® (Scholastic Aptitude Test) as part of her college admissions process. She receives "The Official SAT Question of the Day" by email to help her prepare, and the ones having to do with writing get forwarded to me.
A recent question stumped most of the people who answered it. Only 34 percent of those who clicked through to the answer got the item correct. That was 34 percent of 360,480 clicks!
See how you do. Here are the College Board's instructions for the sentence:
The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. . . .
Here is the test sentence:
The introduction of elevators in hotels meant that previously undesirable rooms on the top floors, away from the bustle and noise of the street, became sought after and more expensive than the lower floors.
What do you think? Is the sentence correct, or must one of the underlined phrases be corrected?
Okay, here is the answer: The sentence is incorrect as is. To correct it, you must change the phrase "the lower floors" to "the rooms on the lower floors." You cannot logically compare rooms with floors; you must compare rooms with rooms.
Consider that the 34-word test sentence was correctly answered by only 34 percent of respondents. The item illustrates one of my beliefs about writing: The longer the sentence, the harder it is to write correctly–and the more difficult it is for readers to follow.
What do you think of this simpler but longer two-sentence version?
The introduction of elevators in hotels meant that previously undesirable rooms on the top floors became desirable. Away from the bustle and noise of the street, they became sought after and more expensive than rooms on the lower floors.
To receive free SAT practice materials to help you perform better on the test, visit the College Board website. To be a better business writer, practice writing shorter sentences.