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This lesson unit outlines the standalone edit-revise exam section.

The Secret of Stand Alone Edit-Revise

“Remember me, who am your friend.”

– Emperor to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars


The Standalone Edit-Revise exam section includes 5-8 stand-alone questions that will test grammar, punctuation, and style. The big secret to Standalone Edit-Revise questions is that they don’t exactly follow the rules of grammar and style most students will use when writing or speaking today. Instead, the questions follow more formal rules of 20th century American English. Untrained test takers do not realize this and attempt to answer questions simply by choosing the answer that sounds correct to them, much like the way they might phrase words if they were talking to someone. On occasion, this works, but for those looking to excel on this exam section, it is a big mistake.

Instead, students should learn to select the answer that follows the rules on the SHSAT that reward them. The Emperor in Star Wars has a related message to future SHSAT test takers – and Luke Skywalker. Don’t rely only on what “sounds good.” Make sure to develop a strong grasp of punctuation and grammar rules because the correct answer for the SHSAT may not always sound familiar. If you plan to “wing it” on this section, the Emperor would probably extend the same reply he gave to Luke.


“No, it is you who are mistaken!”


In this course, we will review the most common grammar, style, and punctuation rules that are likely to appear on the exam. Like math, students will need to know particular rules or concepts before they can excel on the questions in the associated exam section. Good luck answering a similar triangles problem on the SHSAT math exam without learning some geometry. The same is true for the Standalone Edit-Revise exam section. For example, students will have to know the formal rules addressing combinations of independent clauses. In many, cases students believe the following sentences sound good.


Sentence 1: Go to the store, buy some milk and bread while you are there.

Sentence 2: Go to the store and buy some milk and bread while you are there.


Neither of these sentences is correct. Sentence 1 is an example of a comma splice. Sentence 2 is a run-on sentence. Both clauses, “go to the store” and “buy some milk and bread” are independent clauses. That is, each can function as a stand-alone sentence expressing a complete thought with a noun and a verb. In this case, a comma is not sufficient to combine the sentences, and neither is the coordinating conjunction “and” by itself. A period or semicolon must separate the sentences, or a comma and then a coordinating conjunction must be used to combine the independent clauses.


Correct Sentences:

Go to the store; buy some milk and bread while you are there.

Go to the store, and buy some milk and bread while you are there.

Go to the store. Buy some milk and bread while you are there.


Hopefully, readers will appreciate the need to learn the grammar rules much like they need to learn algebra and geometry for the SHSAT math exam. Do not worry if you are not yet familiar with esoteric terms like “coordinating conjunction” and “independent clause” or how to apply them. They will be covered in the upcoming lessons in this course, which reviews the key rules for the SHSAT. Once you recognize and can apply the concepts, then it is not even necessary you know what to call the terms because the SHSAT will never ask students to identify the rules by name in questions. Many of these rules overlap with the SAT language questions as well, so expertise on this section for the SHSAT will carry over to the PSAT and SAT. Like math, the website will provide extended rules and skill lessons beyond the key concepts outlined in the free lessons. Before we cover the key rules, it is worthwhile to have a handy reference to some basic definitions.

Grammar Glossary


A group of words that unlike a clause or sentence never completes a thought and never contains a verb. Prepositional phrase, e.g., at the ballpark. Participle phrase, e.g. thinking to himself.


A group of related words that contains both a subject and a verb divided into four types: independent, dependent, adjective, noun.

Independent & Dependent Clause

Independent clauses can stand alone as sentences (subject, verb, complete thought), dependent clauses cannot.


A group of words that contains a subject, a predicate, and completes a full thought.


Noun or pronoun the sentence is about


Part of the sentence containing the verb


Group of words that lack a fully formed idea — dependent clause


Two independent clauses not joined by proper punctuation

Compound Sentence

Independent Clause + Independent Clause combinations

Complex Sentence

Independent Clause + Dependent Clause combinations

Coordinating Conjunction

For, and, not, but, or, yet, so (FANBOYS) – with a comma they connect independent clauses

Subordinating Conjunction

Although, after, as, because, before, once, rather than, since, though, unless, until,  whereas, whether, while, etc. – form dependent clauses and connect to independent clauses

Correlative Conjunction

Either/or, neither/nor, both/and

Conjunctive Adverb

Independent Clause + “;” + Conjunctive Adverb + “,” Independent Clause. e.g., however, moreover, similarly, nevertheless, also, hence, accordingly, anyway, consequently, therefore, thus, finally, otherwise, meanwhile, etc.

Coordinate Adjective

Adjectives equal in weight that require a comma. e.g., tall, handsome boy. Not little old lady.


Link nouns, pronouns to clarify relationships to the sentence (time, place, and direction).

Participle Phrase

A phrase that begins with the present participle (-ing) or the past participle (-ed, -en) and acts as an adjective. e.g., Jogging at a moderate pace, James thought about his next adventure.

Gerund Phrase

A phrase that begins with the present participle (-ing) and acts as a noun. e.g., Jogging at a moderate pace is good exercise.

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