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Praxis Core Writing Practice: Language Skills

Praxis Core Writing Practice Language Skills

Praxis Core Writing language and research skills make up 40% of your final score on the exam. Today, we’ll look at practice questions for language skills. Of the two “skills question” categories in Praxis Core writing, language skills is the largest group. You will see 30 language skills questions on the Praxis Core Writing test, and only 4 research skill questions.

The Different Types of language Skills in Praxis Core Writing

The language skills questions on the Praxis Core fall under two broad categories: usage questions and sentence correction questions.

Usage questions tend to deal with the finer points of grammar: subject-verb agreement, correct prepositions and pronouns, capitalization, punctuation, the proper formation of idioms, and so on. Usage questions are focused on individual words and phrases within a sentence. In each usage question, four words or phrases in a sentence are underlined, and test-takers must click the select the underlined form that’s incorrect. There is also an option to click “no error” at the end of the sentence, in case every underlined word and phrase is correct.

Like usage questions, sentence correction questions also deals with some of the finer points of grammar. However, sentence correction looks at grammar in a more “big picture” way. Words and phrases are presented in terms of parallel structure, the grammar of a whole sentence or clause, and the relationship between multiple clauses and phrases within a sentence.

Every sentence correction question highlights just one important key phrase in the sentence. Then, four possible corrections to that key phrase are given as options. There is also an option to leave the phrase unchanged.

Praxis Core Writing: Language Skills Practice

Below are six practice questions for Praxis Core Writing language skills. These questions do not cover every single aspect of written language that you might see on test day. But they do show a good cross section of the language skill question type. The first three questions will be usage questions, while the last three will deal with sentence correction. These questions will be followed by an answer key and answer explanations.

QUESTIONS 1-3

Answer the three questions below by selecting the underlined part of the sentence that is incorrect, or by selecting “no error.”

1)
While the cedar tree is used primarily for their lumber, this tree’s bright colored, sweet-smelling wood is used in a few other ways, including as a source of decorative wood chips and as an ingredient in perfume. No error

2)
It is easy to determine why certain birds migrate south for the winter, since food availability is clearly connected from the migration habits of birds. No error

3)
The largest pyramid to be constructed in Mesoamerica, at a site which would later become part of Mexico, were built of cut stone by the Aztecs between the years BCE 300 and CE 1000. No error

QUESTIONS 4-6

Answer the following questions by selecting the correct modification to the part of the sentence that is in bold.

4)
Moscow is nearly 7,500 miles from Tokyo and requires airline passengers to
spend at least 10 hours in the air when they travel between these cities.

  • A) Moscow is nearly 7,500 miles from Tokyo and requires airline passengers to
  • B) Moscow is nearly 7,500 miles from Tokyo; therefore airline passengers must
  • C) Moscow is nearly 7,500 miles away from Tokyo, therefore airline passengers must
  • D) Moscow is nearly 7,500 miles from Tokyo; this requiring airline passengers to
  • E) Since Moscow is nearly 7,500 miles away from Tokyo, airline passengers must

5)
Sunflowers are heliotropic, meaning that the blossoms of these plants open toward the sun in the morning, follow the sun over the course of the day, and then downward is where they turn at night.

  • A) follow the sun over the course of the day, and then downward is where they turn
  • B) follow the sun over the course of the day, and then turn downward
  • C) they follow the sun over the course of the day, and then turning downward
  • D) followed the sun over the course of the day, and then turned downward
  • E) following the sun over the course of the day, and then downward is where they turn

6)
In 1959 Neil Armstrong flew to the moon in a NASA rocket ship, an expedition that led NASA to fund additional lunar landings.

  • A) rocket ship, an expedition that led
  • B) rocket ship, this initial expedition led
  • C) rocket ship and his expedition was leading
  • D) rocket ship and this expedition leading
  • E) rocket ship, with this expedition leading

Answer Key

1) Option 2
2) Option 3
3) Option 4

4) E
5)
B
6)
A

Answer Explanations

Usage questions

  • Question 1: The plural pronoun “their” does not match its singular antecedent “cedar tree.”
  • Question 2: This sentence has incorrect preposition use. Things are connected to each other, not connected from each other.
  • Question 3: Here, we have subject-verb disagreement. “Were” is a plural verb, used to describe the actions of two or more things. “Were” cannot correctly modify the singular subject “the largest pyramid.”

Sentence Correction Questions

  • Question 4: (E) is correct because this sentence needs to clearly state the cause and effect relationship between the distance from Moscow to Tokyo and the duration of airplane flights between these cities. (A) uses the verb “requires” in an illogical way, because it makes it sound like the city of Moscow itself is requiring people to do something; in fact, it is the distance between Moscow and Tokyo that creates a requirement. (B) could work, as it demonstrates a clear cause and effect relationship and has two complete sentences that are properly divided by a semicolon. However, (B) is choppier and a little harder to follow. (E) is better because it introduces a cause and effect word (“since”) immediately, and doesn’t create an unnecessary extra sentence. (D), like (B), could also work but has similar problems with choppy structure and awkward wording. (C) has the same style problems as (B) and (D), and also creates a comma splice (an incorrect use of a comma to join too sentences).
  • Question 5: (B) is the correct answer, because it has perfect parallel structure for the list of things that sunflowers do. With (B), each of the three actions listed are in parallel simple present form: openfollow, and turn. All other answers create an incorrect break in the parallel structure of the nouns in the list. In addition,  (D) and (E) break the parallel structure of the verb forms, incorrectly introducing a new tense for the verb follow. (C) also introduces a new error, a comma splice.
  • Question 6: (A) is correct; the sentence is perfectly acceptable as it’s originally written. (B) creates a comma splice between two complete sentences. (C), (D), and (E) change the verb tense of “led” for no apparent reason, breaking the parallel structure of the verbs in the sentence.
  • Additional note: Parallel structure is important in Praxis Core Writing, especially in sentence completion questions. Fore more information, see the Magoosh Praxis Blog’s post on Parallelism in Praxis Core Writing.

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