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Unit 11: Lesson 3

Writing: Grammar

Writing: Conclusions — Video lesson

David shows you how to approach a Conclusions question on the SAT Writing and Language test. Created by David Rheinstrom.

Video transcript

- [Instructor] Let's take a look at a conclusion question. Now, intro and conclusion questions occur two to three times on your official SAT. And they'll either look something like, which choice best introduces the paragraph? Or the writer wants a conclusion that states the main claim of the passage, which choice best accomplishes this goal? That's what introduction or conclusion questions tend to look like. Now here in question 33, we see the writer wants a conclusion that reiterates the main idea expressed in the passage, which choice best accomplishes this goal? What this question is essentially asking us is to first identify the main idea represented in the passage. And in order to do that, we're gonna have to access our reading skills and figure that out for ourselves. This is the last question about this passage. And so if you were doing this on test day, you would have already read the whole passage by the time you got to this question. You would likely have worked your way through the other questions as you were working your way through the passage. But since you might be coming to this video cold, I'm going to go through the entire passage, paragraph by paragraph and I'm going to restate the point of each paragraph in my own words as I read. Legal nonrepresentation, paragraph one. All my life, the sculptor Constantine Brancusi remarked I have been seeking to capture the essence of flight. Bird in Space as a work of abstract art. It is not a readily recognizable representation of the Bird in its title but rather a polished arc of bronze that calls to mind the animals' graceful airborne motion with its end tapering into points. Much of the slender 53 inch curve appear suspended in the air above its marble base. More than just a visually arresting sculpture then, Bird in Space was responsible for changing how the US government recognizes art. So this paragraph is introducing the sculptor Brancusi the sculpture Bird in Space and it's saying Bird in Space changed how the US government recognizes art. Paragraph two, In the 1920s abstract art like Brancusi's was a new phenomenon a sharp contrast to more traditionally representational paintings and statues. So it is perhaps unsurprising that Bird in Space received a mixed reception. The general public struggled to find artistic value in the sculpture. Indeed many struggled to see it as a work of art at all. One newspaper likened it to half an airplane propeller while also calling it a tall slender highly polished object. Within the art world, however, Bird in Space was recognized as a beautiful and innovative work of modern sculpture. Such recognition led the art collector Edward Steichen to buy the piece and have it shipped to his New York city home from Brancusi's Paris studio. So this paragraph I would summarize as Bird in Space got a mixed reception. Paragraph three. The importation of the sculpture brought it to the attention of the US Customs Bureau. The agency's view reflected that of the general public when Bird in Space came to the United States from France the Customs Bureau classified it not as a work of art, but as an industrial object. That classification carried with it substantial consequences. Works of art could be imported to the United States duty free but industrial materials were taxed at rates of up to 40% of their purchase value. As a result Bird in Space faced an import tax of $229.35 more than a third of the 600 Stetchen paid for it. So for paragraph three, let's say a customs dispute. Is it art or an industrial object? Brancusi in turn sued the US government, aiming to score recognition of his sculpture as art. The resultant 1927 court case Brancusi versus the United States attempted to answer for the American public the question of whether abstract works like Brancusi's should be considered art. After hearing a lineup of well-known famous art critics testified to the aesthetic value and originality of non-representational art like Bird in Space, the court's ruling was in favor of Brancusi. The decision meant that the public had finally come to recognize the artistic value of non-representational art. So cutting out that final sentence because that's question 33, that's the question we're considering. We'll have to summarize this paragraph without using the final sentence of the paragraph because the final sentence of the paragraph is the subject of question 33. And that sentence could change depending on the choice that we make, which means that the way I'm going to summarize this paragraph is by saying Brancusi prevailed in court, his sculpture was art. And now let's go down to the question itself and compare all of those paragraph summaries. So paragraph, one Bird in Space changed how the government recognizes art. Paragraph two, the sculpture got a mixed reception. Paragraph three, a customs dispute is it art or an industrial object? And paragraph four Brancusi prevailed in court his sculpture was art. We've summarized these paragraphs in our own words. And now using those summaries I'm going to try to predict the answer. So the sculpture changed how the government saw art Bird in Space went from being an industrial object in the eyes of the us government to being a work of art. So I'm gonna to be looking for a choice that suggests that Brancusi's art is being perceived as art by the government. So let's slice and dice, shall we? So we want a choice that best reiterate the main idea. The main idea is that Brancusi's art is art in the eyes of the government. And that means the choice A is pretty close, right? Choice A is the decision meant that the public had finally come to recognize the artistic value of non-representational art. That's the no change option. I'm not gonna to cross that off for now. Choice B was a great victory for art collectors like Steichen a major impediment to their ability to import artworks from Europe had been eliminated but that's about art collectors. That's not about the status of the art so we can cross that off. choice C, I would forever broaden the range. of art acknowledged by the US government. That sounds promising so far from then on customs law would have recognize both abstract and traditional works within the category of art, that's new information and while this is an interesting choice that matches part of my prediction. it's adding new information and not reiterating. Remember the question wants us to reiterate the main idea not reiterate the main idea and add new information. And choice D, concerning the value of abstract works such as Bird in Space would take many more years to be made in the court of public opinion however. Again, this is compelling information, but it is new and we need to be reiterating. So I would say this is not our choice either. In questions like this, "every choice is grammatically sound and they're written to sound good" So that leads me to an important top tip. Don't just choose the answer that sounds best, select the option that actually answers the question being asked. We're being asked to select a choice that reiterate the main idea. So we have to remain super focused on that. Just finding something that says that main idea again and not going far a field and introducing new information. So we've done all of this and we're left with choice A. So this is a no change answer, which can be frustrating because it was fine all along. But I think that this question still gives us a great opportunity to practice the skills of summarizing and the skills of finding the main idea of a passage that enable you to answer these questions quickly. Test the choices against what you feel. The main idea of the passage is and look out for things that feel unsupported or over broad that make claims that don't appear elsewhere in the passage.