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Chris Lele

Illogical Comparisons on the SAT Writing Section

You’ve most likely heard the phrase never compare apples to oranges. This is definitely true on SAT Writing section. So if an answer choice compares two unlike things, then it is incorrect.


For instance, look at the following sentence:

Mike’s test score was better than Sally.

In this example, we are comparing Mike’s test score to Sally. The two are very different. One of them is a number, the other a person. What we want to say is Mike’s test score is better than Sally’s test score. One way we do that is to add a possessive to Sally, as in:

Correct: Mike’s test score was better than Sally’s.

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In English, we are allowed to omit the final test score as it implied that Sally’s refers to her test score (this act of omission is called ellipsis – though the SAT definitely won’t test that).


Now let’s see if you can spot the illogical comparison, and provide the correct version.


1. Colloquially, the use of contractions is more common than non-contracted words.

2. The novels of Thomas Pynchon are nowhere nearly as well known as J.D. Salinger, though the two authors invite comparisons.

3. T.S Eliot’s work, drawing liberally as it does on mysticism, has been more marginalized amongst orthodox Christians than C.S. Lewis.



1. We need to compare the use of contractions to the use of non-contracted words.

2. Should be those of J.D. Salinger. ‘Those’ is used in place of the ‘novels.’

3. Notice that unlike ‘novels’ from #2, ‘work’ is singular. So instead of using ‘those’—as we did in #2—we use ‘that.’ The last part of the sentence should read “than that of C.S. Lewis.”


You will see at least one illogical comparison on an SAT writing section. One way to be on guard is to notice the word ‘than’, which usually sets up a comparison. Of course, do not assume that every comparison is illogical.


About Chris Lele

Chris Lele is the GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh Online Test Prep. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 10 million views. You can read Chris's awesome blog posts on the Magoosh GRE blog and High School blog! You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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