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ACCUPLACER Preparation Guide - Reading and Writing Skills

Reading & Writing Skills List

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Avoiding unnecessary commas:
An effective sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a period. A sentence should be written simply, inserting commas only when the section of a sentence requires it. The most common use of a comma in a sentence is to set apart a descriptive phrase or clause at the beginning of the sentence or to be used with a conjunction to separate two complete sentences. Do not add a comma unless the structure of the sentence requires it.

Choosing the most effective language:
Descriptive language in sentences is effective when it is carefully chosen to specifically explain what the author intends. It should match the tone and intent of the writing. Descriptive language must concisely and effectively communicate the idea that the author intends.

Connecting two sentences logically:
The meaning of a sentence determines how and where a second sentence should begin. Look at the major ideas in each sentence and determine how to clearly combine the sentences so that they are easily understood.

Correct pronoun reference:
A pronoun must agree in person with the word that it refers back to. In this case, "your" is incorrect. The pronoun should not be used.

Creating possessive nouns:
Some nouns are used directly before another noun to show that the word shows possession. The first of the two words is the "owner" of the second noun; consequently, an apostrophe is often used.

Creating a transitional sentence:
In order to connect ideas presented in two paragraphs, often a transitional sentence is included at the beginning of the second paragraph to help the reader connect the ideas in the paragraphs. A transitional sentence connects ideas from a previous sentence or paragraph. It makes writing easier to read. A transitional sentence might also be used at the end of a paragraph to summarize and connect the ideas from one paragraph to another.

Editing for effectiveness:
Sentences become strong when they are written simply and concisely express the author's ideas and follow a logical order. When sentences are awkwardly constructed, they are confusing to the reader. Descriptive phrases must be carefully created, using logical connecting words. Unnecessary words should be eliminated. Words or phrases connecting two thoughts in a sentence must clearly communicate what the author is trying to say. An effective sentence is simply written using specific, powerful describers that fit the author's message. Extra words should be eliminated, and describers should be in a logical order.

Forming verbs:
Verbs often have helping verbs used with them to strengthen their effectiveness. Usually the helping verb indicates whether the action is in the past, present, or future. Common helping verbs such as is, was, have, and had clarify the meaning of the verb.

Forming the correct verb:
Verb tense must be consistent within a sentence. All verbs in a sentence should be consistent - they should agree as in present, past or future tense.

A sentence must contain a subject, a verb and it must make sense. Usually, a fragment is corrected by connecting it to the sentence before or after it in the text.

Grammatical agreement:
Words that connect phrases to the main part of a sentence and the words in the phrase must clearly reflect exactly what the author is trying to say. The word that connects the phrase to the sentence must be simple and specifically convey what the author is trying to express.

Pronoun reference:
Pronouns must match the words that they replace. Who refers to people; which and that refer to things.

Run-on sentence:
A run-on sentence connects two distinct sentences together without proper punctuation and structure, making the passage confusing. Two sentences must be separated by correct punctuation and wording to be correct and easily understood. Inserting a semicolon is one method for connecting two sentences. Run ons can be corrected by inserting a comma and "but, and, or". A simple semicolon can also correct a run on sentence. Two separate sentences can also be created.

Selecting the correct word form:
An adjective describes a noun or pronoun and is usually directly before the noun it describes. It often requires specific changes in structure to make a word an adjective. A word ending in –ly is usually an adverb, which describes a verb, adverb or adjective.

Subject verb agreement:
To create an effective sentence, the verb must agree with the subject in number (singular/plural). A singular noun must have a singular verb; a plural noun must have a plural verb.

Unified essay:
An effective essay is carefully structured so that its supporting paragraphs support the thesis and the ideas presented in each paragraph support the topic sentence of the paragraph. Information not directly explaining the thesis of the essay should be eliminated because it confuses the reader.

Unified paragraphs:
All paragraphs should contain only sentences that explain the topic sentence. All supporting material placed I in a paragraph must support the topic sentence of the paragraph.