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Logical Coordination

Teacher/Instructor Eva Holtz
Eva Holtz

Harvard University
Perfect scores on the SAT and 4 SATIIs

Eva is a certified admissions counselor and the founder of PrepPoint, a premier test prep company in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In this episode we'll be talking about logical coordination and it may sound like a complicated concept but I promise it's not. In short, it's the fact that ideas should be joined together with words that make sense logically. And logical coordination will be tested all throughout the writing section. Let's go into a little more detail now on logical coordination.
So here we are with the sentence that demonstrates logical coordination. Let me show you what I mean. 'Today Marcus gave an uncharacteristically awful presentation full of pauses and mumbling, even though he usually excels at his speech competitions.' So we're using logical coordination because these two ideas are connected with 'even though'. On the one hand we have the idea that Marcus did a bad job and on the other hand we have the idea that he's usually pretty good and they're connected with the word that indicates contrast, 'even though'. Now there are many kinds of words that can be used for logical coordination so let's explore the different categories.
First of all we have words that indicate similarity or continuation: and, furthermore, in fact, indeed, likewise, moreover, or or nor and similarly. If you see a word like that you'd expect the two ideas to be related to each other, to be in the same [vane]. Another set of words, among them the one we just saw with the Marcus example are the contrast words. A lot more here we have things like albeit, although, but, despite, even so, however, in contrast, nonetheless, regardless, still, though, whereas, while and yet. So when these words pop up on the SAT, you'll expect that the ideas being connected with them are contrasting or contrary to each other and there's one last category of these logical coordination words to be on the lookout for, cause and effect words: as a result, because, consequently, for, since, so, therefore and thus. So when you see these words, make sure that the two pieces of the sentence are being connected because one of them caused the other.
Let's look at some examples: 'Giselle is gorgeous, and that outfit isn't flattering on her'. Now the sentence isn't grammatically incorrect but stylistically and logically it's very weak so it would be a bad answer choice on the SAT. Here's why, 'and' is one of those coordinating words that suggest the two pieces of the sentence should be similar or in the same vein, but the two pieces of the sentence here are not. On the one hand, we have 'Giselle is gorgeous' and on the other hand we have that she doesn't look good in the outfit. Those are contrasting ideas, not similar ideas so we'd want to find an answer choice that looks more like this, 'but' or 'yet', something like that that indicates a contrast.
Another example: 'Patrick generally answers calls until midnight on the weekends whereas he is usually still awake and out with friends.' Now, 'whereas' may not be a word you know, it is one of the contrast words and these two ideas are not contrasting. We have the idea that he generally answers his calls and we have the idea that he is usually still awake and out with friends. Those are actually connected ideas or possibly 'cause and effect' ideas. So we'd want a word like 'since' that shows that he answers calls because he's up not in spite of the fact that he's up.
One more example: 'Although I play sports daily, I'm an excellent athlete.' Now this doesn't make sense because 'although' is a contrast word and the two parts of the sentence are actually pretty closely related and in the same vein. 'I play sports daily' and 'I'm an excellent athlete' are ideas that go together not ideas that contradict each other. So instead of something like 'although', we're going to want a word like 'because'. 'Because I play sports daily, I'm an excellent athlete', cause and effect. Now let's see this applied to an SAT problem.
Here's a type of problem you would see in the identifying errors portion of the test so we're going to try this and remember the first step is to read through the problem and see if any errors jump out at you. If one does, you're going to circle that part of the sentence and that's your answer, if that's the wrong part, that's your answer. If nothing jumps out at you we're going to go back through piece by piece, looking for what's wrong. So let's try that now.
'Sergey began to develop a high fever, but he asked his mother to purchase some medicine and schedule a doctor's appointment for him'. Now perhaps the problem did jump out at you, the problem is 'B', 'but', and that's the answer you'd choose. That's because 'but' is a contrast word, when in fact the ideas in the sentence should not indicate contrast. If you had a high fever, even then it would make sense for you to have some medicine purchased and have a doctor's appointment scheduled, not that it would be a contrasting idea. So instead a word that you'd expect to see in the place of 'but' would be something like 'so' or 'therefore' or something like that, cause and effect not contrast.
Let's look at the other underlined portions and see if they are okay and why they're okay. On 'A', we have 'high fever', the question is, do we talk like that? Yes, there is such a thing as a high fever, no problem here. 'B' we already decided that was the wrong answer so we're not going to revisit it. 'C', 'he asked his mother to purchase some medicine', sounds fine, nothing wrong there 'and schedule'. 'Schedule' is the right verb to use here and in this case the connecting word 'and' is used in a way that's fine in terms of logical coordination. If you were sick you would want to have your mother purchase some medicine and schedule a doctor's appointment. Those aren't contrasting ideas, those aren't cause an effect ideas, those are similar ideas so a word like 'and' is totally fine and so there we are. The answer that we should select is 'B' because it violates logical coordination. Let's sum everything up now.
So the bottom line with logical comparison is that ideas should be joined together in a way that makes logical sense and remember to watch out for this because it occurs all throughout the writing section of the SAT. Hopefully now you understand that when you see words that can serve as connectors like 'and' or 'despite' or 'because', you should be looking out to see whether the two parts of the sentence are actually connected in a way that makes sense. So for instance 'and' should connect to ideas that are similar 'because' should connect cause and effect ideas and 'despite' should connect ideas that are contrasting to each other. That's logical coordination.