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Published by Steven Donahue
Guide to passing the College Placement Test (CPT)
Guide to passing the College Placement Test (CPT)

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Published by: Steven Donahue on Jun 10, 2007
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1. Gerunds are equivalent to Nouns.

"GOING to school is fun."

2. Gerunds take Possessive Pronouns.

"HIS having done that upset me."

3. Personal Subjects of Gerunds usually take Possessive apostrophes.

"Jane's complaining really bothered the teacher."

Participles as Modifiers

Both Past and Present Participles can be used as modifiers

1. "The EDITED paper was 500 words long."

(Past Participle EDITED modifies PAPER)

2. "The Teacher EDITING your paper is young."

(Present Participle EDITING modifies TEACHER)

Absolute Phrases

Absolute Phrases modify the basic sentence.
They can be formed in two ways:

1. His arms were weak with pain, but John drove the car carefully. -->
His arms weak with pain, John drove the car carefully.

(HIS ARMS WEAK WITH PAIN modifies main sentence)

2. His arms trembled with pain, but John drove the car carefully. -->
His arms trembling with pain, John drove the car carefully.


(HIS ARMS TREMBLING WITH PAIN modifies main sentence)


Appositives position a second noun in opposition or besides another noun.

1. "Paula, an old friend, is a great person."

(PAULA is next to the Appositive AN OLD FRIEND)

2. My country, Cuba, is an island.

(MY COUNTRY is next to the Appositive CUBA)

Note: Appositives are set off with Commas as above._

Past Participles

Past Participles are used in one of three ways:
"John's depleted bank account was closed."

" The student had decided to drop the course because he was overwhelmed."
(DECIDED with HAD makes the Verb Past Perfect)

C. As a PASSIVE with BE.
"The soccer ball was kicked by Pele."
(WAS and the Participle of KICK makes the Verb Passive)

Present Participles

The Present Participle has three uses:

"The breaking of dishes was vandalism"

B. As a MAIN VERB with BE
" John said that he was driving over right now"
(DRIVING with WAS makes the Verb Progressive or Continuous)

"The temperature rose at an alarming rate"
(ALARMING modifies RATE)_

Auxiliary Verbs


Auxiliary Verbs are Helping Verbs. There are three types:

"I am going"
( AM makes GOING Progressive)

" John said that he had called before he drove over yesterday"
(HAD makes CALLED Past Perfect and the CALL preceded the DRIVING)

"Do you care?"/"I do care!"/"I don't care."
(DO is used for Questions, Emphasis, or Negation)_

Transitive & Intransitive

Transitive Verbs take objects.

1. "Pele scored the goal."

( The verb SCORE takes the object GOAL)

ONLY Transitive Verbs can be made PASSIVE

2. "The goal was scored by Pele."

( In Passive, the Object is emphasized)

Intransitive Verbs cannot take Objects.
Intransitive Cannot be made Passive.

3. "The student smiled"

(SMILED is an Intransitive verb)_


Subjunctive shows that the writer believes the action is unreal or hypothetical.
In Subjunctive, the bare verb is used, without "S".

1. Subjunctive can be preceded by words such as:
" I recommend she study more" (not she studies)
" I suggest he study more" (not he studies)
"I insist John study more" (not John studies)
2. Do not use WAS after IF
" If John were a millionaire, he would still teach" (WERE not Was)
3. Subjunctive is used after AS IF or AS THOUGH)
"She swims as if she were a fish" (WERE not WAS)
"He writes quickly as though he were in a race." (WERE not WAS)
4. Use Subjunctive after THAT when expressing Requirement, Request, Urging, or


" I think it is important that he write more." (WRITE not WRITES)_

If a sentence begins with a Subordinating Conjunction (Danger Word), it is a Dependent Clause.
Danger Words include: After, Because, Although, If, Though, Unless, While, etc.)

1. Always put a comma after a clause beginning with a Danger Word:
"Though he may have a high school diploma, he can't read it."
(The Comma comes after the Clause beginning with THOUGH)

2. Don't mix Coordinating Conjunctions (FANBOYS) with Danger Words:

Wrong: "Because he was sick, so he went to the doctor."
Right: "Because he was sick, he went to the doctor."

3. Do not put a comma before a Danger Word if it is not the first word:
Wrong: " He went to the doctor, because he was sick"
Right: "He went tot the doctor because he was sick"_

Dangling Modifiers

When a sentence begins with a Participial Clause, make sure its reference is right after the comma.

Wrong: After studying the homework, the teacher gave the students the test.
(It is not clear who STUDYING--the teacher or the students)

Right: After studying the homework, the students were given a test by the teacher.
(Now it is clear that the Students were the ones STUDYING)

Limiting Modifiers

Take care not to change the meaning of a sentence when moving Limiting Modifiers.

Limiting Modifiers include: Almost, Even, Just, Nearly, Only, Simply.

Example: "The students trusted only him"
(Here, the students trust a particular person)

Example: "Only the students trusted him"
(Here, particular students trusted a person)_

Parallel Words

Keep words and Phrases Parallel

Wrong: "The teacher was a visionary and liked realism"
Right : "The teacher was a visionary and realistic"
(both words are adjectives now)

Wrong: " Judy loved to skate, swimming, and to jog"
Right : " Judy loved skating, swimming, and jogging"
(All the words are now -ING words)
Right: "Judy love to skate, to swim, and to jog"
(All the words are now Infinitives)


Wrong: " Jim loved breakfast, dinner, and lunch."
Right : " Jim love, breakfast, lunch, and dinner."
(All the words are in Chronological order now)

Cleft Sentences

Cleft Sentences have a Verb that "Cleaves" or divides the sentence into two parts.

Normal: " A faulty wire caused the fire."
Cleft : "It was a faulty wire that caused the fire"
(Here WAS divides the Sentence into two parts)
To change a Cleft Sentence into a Question, begin with WAS not WHAT.
"Was it a faulty wire that caused the fire?"

A second type of Cleft is called "Pseudo Cleft"
Normal: " A faulty wire caused the fire."
Pseudo: " What caused the problem was a faulty wire."
To change a Pseudo Cleft Sentence into a Question, begin with WAS not WHAT.
"Was it a faulty wire that caused the fire?"

Note: WHAT Questions can be formed by adding THAT
"What was it that caused the fire?" BUT the Cause--Faulty Wire is NOT mentioned._


Normally, WHOSE refers to Persons, but can also refer to things.

PERSON: "The teacher whose briefcase was stolen is upset."
(Here, WHOSE shows who owns the briefcase--the teacher)

THING: " The government whose ambassador was kidnapped made a rescue attempt."
(Here, WHOSE shows who "owns" the ambassador--the government)

THING: " The two planets whose atmospheres are similar include Earth and Venus."
(Here, WHOSE shows who "owns" the atmospheres--two planets.)_

Adverbial Modifiers

There are three placement guidelines for Adverbial Modifiers

1. Locate directly before a Transitive or Intransitive Verb

No : " Joe finished cheerfully his homework"
Yes: " Joe cheerfully finished his homework"

2. Locate directly after BE or Helping Verbs

No : " Joe frequently was late for class"
Yes: " Joe was frequently late for class"

3. Place before Negatives in Inverted Sentences


No : " I don't frequently study"
Yes: " I frequently don't study"


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