One of the sneakiest question types on the SAT Writing section is when two things or people are being illogically compared. I always tell students to remember that you can only compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.
Let’s see if you can spot the illogical comparisons below:
- She enjoyed Haydn’s symphonies more than Mozart, though she preferred Mozart’s piano music to Haydn.
- The number of exports in Arlandia this year was less than the exports in 2007, prompting austerity measures from the government.
- I prefer the novels of George Orwell to Aldous Huxley, because the latter is more concerned with affecting a air of erudition than telling a good story.
For the first sentence, we are illogically comparing Haydn’s symphonies to Mozart himself. You can’t compare a musical piece to a man. Instead, we want to compare the symphonies of Haydn to the symphonies of Mozart.
- She enjoyed Hayden’s symphonies more than those of Mozart, though she preferred Mozart’s piano music to that of Haydn.
Notice that I did not just says “Mozart’s symphonies”, but those of Mozart. The ‘those’ is a pronoun that refers to symphonies. Had we only been comparing one thing, say a “symphony”, then we would have that of Mozart, where that refers to a singular noun. Also, notice the second part of the sentence: “Mozart’s piano music to THAT of Haydn”. Without the “that of”, I’d be making an illogical comparison of Mozart’s music and Haydn.
Now, let’s take a look at both sentences 2 and 3 corrected:
- The number of exports in Arlandia this year was less than that of 2007, prompting austerity measures from the government.
- I prefer the novels of George Orwell to those of Aldous Huxley, because the latter is more concerned with affecting a air of erudition than telling a good story.
Always make sure you are comparing the same two nouns. In order to avoid wordiness you can replace a singular noun with that and a plural noun with those.
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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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