E T S Praxis Series

Computerized Pre-Professional Skills Test: Writing (5720)

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Sample Test Questions

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The sample questions that follow illustrate the types of multiple-choice questions in the test. They are not, however, representative of the entire scope of the test in either content or difficulty. Answers with explanations follow the questions. There are additional sample questions found in the Pre-Professional Skills Test: Writing (0720) Test at a Glance.

Part A: Usage

(Suggested time – 13 minutes)

Directions:   In each of the sentences that follow four portions are underlined. Read each sentence and decide whether any of the underlined parts contains a grammatical construction, a word use, or an instance of incorrect or omitted punctuation or capitalization that would be inappropriate in carefully written English. If so, highlight the underlined portion that contains the error. To highlight an answer choice, click on any part of the underlined portion you wish to highlight. To change your highlight, click on a different underlined portion of the sentence.

If there are no errors in the underlined portion, click on "No Error." No sentence has more than one error.

Remember, try to answer every question.

  1. On the computer screen you will see the following:

    The club members agreed that each would contribute ten days of volunteer work annually each year at the local hospital. The underlined portions are: A agreed; B each would contribute; C annually each year; D at the local hospital; E no error. Again, the sentence reads: The club members agreed that each would contribute ten days of volunteer work annually each year at the local hospital.

    The error in this sentence occurs in the third underlined choice. The phrase "annually each year" is redundant, since "annually" and "each year" convey the same information. The sentence would be correct with either "annually" or "each year" appearing in the third underlined choice. The error is one of diction, or word choice.

  2. On the computer screen you will see the following:

    For a writer COMMA the rarest privilege is not merely to describe her country and time but to help shape it. The underlined portions are: A rarest; B is not merely; C to describe; D it; E no error. Again, the sentence reads: For a writer COMMA the rarest privilege is not merely to describe her country and time but to help shape it.

    The error in this sentence occurs in the fourth underlined choice. The pronoun "it" is incorrectly used to refer to two nouns, "country" and "time." The pronoun required here is the plural "them."

  3. On the computer screen you will see the following:

    The error occurs in the first underlined choice. In the phrase "those who win," the pronoun "those" indicates the people who win prizes. But the magazine will not print the people who win; it will print what the winners have written, or the submissions of those who win prizes. The error in this question is the illogical use of a pronoun.

    Note that in the second underlined choice you are required to determine whether a punctuation mark—the underlined semicolon—is correct or incorrect. In this instance, the semicolon is used correctly.

  4. On the computer screen you will see the following:

    Because this sentence contains no grammatical, idiomatic, logical, or structural errors, the best answer is "No error." Note that in the second underlined choice you are required to determine whether the underlined letter—a lowercase o—needs to be capitalized, and that in the fourth underlined choice you are asked to determine whether the sentence requires some mark of punctuation in the underlined space. In this sentence, the use of the lowercase o is correct because "ordinance" is not a proper noun, and no comma is required after "candles."

Part B: Sentence Correction

(Suggested time – 25 minutes)

Directions:   In each of the following sentences some part of the sentence or the entire sentence is underlined. Beneath each sentence you will find five ways of writing the underlined part. The first of these repeats the original, but the other four are different. If you think the original sentence is better than any of the suggested changes, you should choose the first answer choice; otherwise you should select the best answer from one of the other choices.

This is a test of correctness and effectiveness of expression. In choosing answers, follow the requirements of standard written English; pay attention to acceptable usage in grammar, diction (choice of words), sentence construction, and punctuation. Choose the answer that expresses most effectively what is presented in the original sentence; this answer should be clear and exact, without awkwardness, ambiguity, or redundancy.

Remember, try to answer every question.

  1. On the computer screen you will see the following:

    Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke out passionately for the poor of all races. The underlined portion is: spoke out passionately.  A-spoke out passionately, Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke out passionately for the poor of all races. B-spoke out passionate, Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke out passionate for the poor of all races. C-did spoke out passionately, Martin Luther King, Jr., did spoke out passionately for the poor of all races. D-has spoke out passionately, Martin Luther King, Jr., has spoke out passionately for the poor of all races. E-had spoken out passionate, Martin Luther King, Jr., had spoken out passionate for the poor of all races.

    This sentence presents no problem of structure or logic. The verb tense is correct, and the use of the adverb "passionately" is also correct in this context. In the second option and in the fifth option, the verb form is correct, but the adjective "passionate" is incorrectly used instead of the adverb. The third and fourth options use the correct adverb but use incorrect verb forms, "did spoke out" and "has spoke out." Thus, the best answer is the first option, "spoke out passionately."

  2. On the computer screen you will see the following:

    As a consumer COMMA one can accept the goods offered to us or we can reject them COMMA but we cannot determine their quality or change the system's priorities. The underlined portion is: As a consumer COMMA one can accept. A-As a consumer COMMA one can accept, As a consumer COMMA one can accept the goods offered to us or we can reject them COMMA but we cannot determine their quality or change the system's priorities. B-We the consumer either can accept, We the consumer either can accept the goods offered to us or we can reject them COMMA but we cannot determine their quality or change the system's priorities. C-The consumer can accept, The consumer can accept the goods offered to us or we can reject them COMMA but we cannot determine their quality or change the system's priorities. D-Either the consumer accepts, Either the consumer accepts the goods offered to us or we can reject them COMMA but we cannot determine their quality or change the system's priorities. E-As consumers COMMA we can accept, As consumers COMMA we can accept the goods offered to us or we can reject them COMMA but we cannot determine their quality or change the system's priorities.

    The problem in this sentence concerns parallelism and agreement in pronoun number. The underlined portion of the sentence uses the singular pronoun, "one," which correctly agrees with its antecedent, "consumer." However, in the portion of the sentence that is not underlined, the first person plural, "we," is used as a subject in the second part of the sentence. To create a sentence free of agreement faults, you must look for a choice that contains both "we" and the plural of "consumer." The last option, "As consumers, we can accept" is the only one that corrects the agreement problem and has a phrase parallel to "we can reject them," and is thus the correct answer.

  3. On the computer screen you will see the following:

    The first option presents two major problems: it is not a complete sentence, and the phrase "without . . . hardly" is not idiomatic. Although the second, third, and fourth options are complete sentences, each uses "hardly" in an equally unidiomatic construction. The fifth option, the best answer, is an idiomatic and complete sentence.

  4. On the computer screen you will see the following:

    The first option, the best answer, is both logical and idiomatic: the use of the construction "safe for one person but not for another" expresses an opposition between the two different effects some mushrooms have on people in general. The second, third, and fourth options change "another" to "the other" (second and third options) or to "some other" (fourth option), thus suggesting incorrectly that one particular person is being discussed. In the third, fourth, and fifth options the appropriate conjunction "but" is changed to "and." The fifth option changes the meaning of the sentence by introducing a new subject, "some (other mushrooms)."