Eliminate Answer Choices
Educated guessing is always better than blind guessing.
Whenever you guess, try first to eliminate some of the multiple-choice
answers to improve your odds of guessing correctly. Take a look
at these sample answers:
||When I swung
the bat I knew, I had hit a home run.
||When I swung the bat, I knew I had hit a home run.
||When I swing the bat I will know I always hit a home
||When, I swung the bat I knew, I had hit a home run.
You can probably figure out from these answer choices
that there is a comma placement error. Choices A, B, and D all give
versions of the same sentence with different comma placement. Choice
C, attempting to lure you off the right track, offers a comma-less
version of the sentence with nonsensically altered verb tenses.
Can you eliminate any of these answer choices? Well, choice
C looks like a prime candidate for elimination because it makes
little sense. Choice D also looks like it can go because of the
comma placed after “When,” which leaves the word dangling at the
beginning of the sentence. If you can eliminate either or both of
these, you greatly increase the chance that you’ll pick the correct
answer, which is B.
Eliminating Answer Choices for Questions with Multiple
Quite often, you will encounter questions that involve
more than one error. While these questions may seem harder to answer
than single-error questions, you can benefit from the multiple errors
when trying to eliminate answer choices: if you can’t spot one error,
you might spot the other.
Instead of tackling all the errors at once, you’ll have
an easier time picking them off one by one. Let’s use the following
left they’re bags in the room.
|| Cathy’s friends left there bags in the room.
|| Cathys friends left their bags in the room.
|| Cathy’s friends left their bags in the room.
These sentences contain two variations. If you focus on
Cathy and her friends, you realize that you should eliminate choices
A and C for incorrect apostrophe placement. Now you’ve narrowed
your options to B and D, which respectively use “there” and “their”
as possessive pronouns. If you don’t know the difference between
the two, you have a 50 percent chance of guessing the right answer.
If you do know the difference (and you will, after you read the
Usage/Mechanics chapter), you know that “there bags” is incorrect
and that the correct answer is therefore D.