College PrepSATSAT Writing

Faulty Comparisons: The Odd Topic on SAT® Writing

These questions will ask you to pinpoint and correct illogical comparisons. They can be somewhat tricky to answer because the types of comparisons the SATⓇ test presents are odd and uncommon. Here are two rules to remember when assessing comparisons, along with some steps to improve their logic. 

Here are a few tips for success with this type of question: 

1. You can only compare two things of the same type. 

Comparing two things that are not in the same category is illogical. You may have to read carefully to determine this kind of error. A person cannot be compared to an object, and an object cannot be compared to a person. When you come across a comparison, pay attention to the types of subjects being compared. 

Here is an example: 

Harry’s apple orchard produces less fruit than Sarah does.

The issue with this comparison is that the apple orchard is being compared to Sarah. An object (the orchard) cannot be compared to a person (Sarah). This can be resolved by improving the specificity of the sentence.

Be specific.

The details in a comparison can make or break its logic. To improve the example above, additional phrasing is necessary. 

Improved version: 

Harry’s apple orchard produces less fruit than Sarah’s apple orchard does.

This sentence is now specific enough to be logical because it is comparing two apple orchards. But remember, the Writing section requires your final answer choice to be the most logical and grammatically correct. There could be a better answer than this improved version.

Avoid redundancy. 

The improved sentence is not perfect because this question type will require you to pay attention to redundant phrasing. When adding specificity to your comparison, ensure that you are not harming the wordiness of the sentence. Just because a comparison is now logical does not mean the sentence’s grammar or structure is correct. 

A correction for the sentence might look like this: 

Harry’s apple orchard produces less fruit than Sarah’s does.

This comparison is logical because it compares two subjects of the same type. It is also specific and concise.

2. You can’t compare something to everything. 

This rule comes up with illogical comparisons that look like this:

Sarah’s apple orchard produces more fruit than any apple orchard.

The issue with this comparison is that by comparing Sarah’s orchard to any orchard, Sarah’s orchard is essentially being compared to itself. To resolve this odd issue, the sentence needs to specify that Sarah’s orchard is being compared to any orchard other than itself.

Like this: 

Sarah’s apple orchard produces more fruit than any other apple orchard.

This rule is difficult, but you can benefit by keeping track of the subjects. It is important to pay attention to the point the sentence is making. This question type can be sneaky, and plugging in answer choices is a strategy to catch a mistake you didn’t notice.

Most questions for faulty comparisons will be based on those two rules. If you come across a comparison that does not make sense and cannot be explained by these two rules, then you should be able to resolve it with common sense.

You can practice resolving these comparisons in the Writing test by using UWorld’s SAT Prep Course. Our practice exams, detailed question explanations, and performance tracking tools can provide you with real experience and guided studies to reach your goal scores. Try it out to practice and perfect faulty comparison questions!