Many students have a hard time with one specific type of SAT Grammar: Faulty Comparisons or Illogical Comparisons. I call this SAT Grammar topic Apples🍏 to Apples🍎. On the SAT, you should expect to see at least 2 questions based on the illogical comparison rule. If you are someone who aspires to get a high SAT score, mastering this rule can bring you an additional 10 - 40 points on the test. The actual number of points will depend on the way the test is curved. 📈

How to recognize these sneaky questions on the test?

The easiest way to know that you are looking at illogical comparison is to recognize these words. 👇



🔴Compared to

⚪️Relative to


These words will tip you off to recognize a potential Faulty Comparison or Apples🍏 to Apples🍎.

There are THREE different patterns of Apples🍏 to Apples🍎 questions.

Pattern #1

To better explain the first pattern, let’s examine the sentence below and see whether there is anything wrong with it.

👇 Read the sentence below. Is there anything wrong with it? 🧐

If you don’t see anything wrong, I want you to hold that thought. In the spoken language, this sentence makes sense, but in a written language this sentence is WRONG ❌. A lot of students like to approach the grammar section by the way it sounds👂. These sentences sound right, therefore many students get them wrong.

❗️Remember that in the written language we have to ONLY compare things that are alike. We compare Apples🍏 to Apples🍎, things to things, the way someone is annoyed to the way someone else is annoyed❗️

Let’s revisit our sentence again, 👆what are we comparing? We want to be comparing the way Mark is annoyed to the way his sister is annoyed. ✅ However, according to the current way the sentence is written, we are comparing the way Mark is annoyed to his sister.❌

To fix this sentence, we can just add one word at the end.

Let's take a look at how the SAT is testing on this concept. Attempt to solve it without reading ahead 🤔

Whenever you see THAN, you are spotting an illogical comparison.🍏🍎 We’ve discussed these clear markers in the first part of this article. If you’ve missed 5 clear markers, scroll back up⬆️⬆️⬆️⬆️

👉Then, you need to identify 1️⃣ 👉What are you comparing❓

In this example, you are comparing how “they (referring to students that were required to volunteer) did significantly less regular work” THAN how did the students who weren’t required to volunteer. Following the rules of the parallel structure, you can start to eliminate answer choices. Can you compare how they did to service hours? NO!

Therefore, answer choice A is out. Can you compare how they did to how did students who are not required to go volunteer? YES! The right answer is B.

In these kinds of questions, you need to make the two parts of the sentence look more alike to avoid the illogical comparison.

Just for fun, let’s check the other options.

Option C is wrong because we can not compare what they did to the hours.

Option D is wrong because we can not compare what they did with students.

Pattern #2

To better decipher the puzzle of the second pattern, let’s check out this sentence and look for errors.

1️⃣ 👉What are you comparing❓

Let’s first discuss what this sentence is intending to compare: technology in robotics to technology in genetics.

Meanwhile, the sentence above is doing something else: comparing the technology in robotics, which is an apple 🍏 and genetics, which is a bed 🛏! Because genetics🧬 is drastically different from technology, this comparison is deemed illogical. Therefore, we spotted an illogical comparison, and it needs to be fixed.

I know that many of you would argue that you are, in fact, able to understand the meaning of this sentence. I agree with you; however, I have to say that such a sentence would only be acceptable in spoken speech. In the written language, we have to follow a lot more rules.

🛠How would you fix this sentence❓

You can re-write the sentence by adding the word technology the second time to highlight the fact that we are comparing technology in robotics to technology in genetics.

👉Does technology in robotics advance more rapidly than technology in genetics?

The second way you can correct this sentence is by adding a pronoun that will map back to technology. In this case, such a pronoun is “that”.

👉Does technology in robotics advance more rapidly than that in genetics?

Most likely, the SAT would want to see a pronoun rather than a repeated noun.

If you are unsure what pronouns are, please make sure you watch our video tutorial on pronouns here.

Let’s now see how the SAT is going to test this rule. Attempt to solve it without reading ahead 🤔

1️⃣ 👉What are you comparing❓

You are comparing 🐬bottlenose dolphins🐬 to other marine mammals🐳🐋🐠🐙🦀.

If you chose D, you are correct.

If you were tricked and chose C, make sure to read every word in your answer. Answer choice C is comparing 🐬bottlenose dolphins🐬 to other marine mammals🐳🐋🐠🐙🦀’s CALLS ☎️📞📣! Which is NOT the same. Because there is a high chance that you overlook the word CALLs at the end of the answer, please read every word of every answer choice.

Pattern #3

By now, you should know the drill. You’ll read a sentence and try to guess what’s wrong.

1️⃣ 👉What are you comparing❓

What you want to compare is the landscapes of the desert to the landscapes of the Midwest.

However, in this sentence, we are comparing the landscapes of the deserts to the Midwest. The landscapes is 🍎 while the Midwest is banana🍌. We can't compare an apple🍎 to a banana🍌. To make banana more like an apple, we can use a pronoun.

Why are we using those and not that? Because “landscapes” is a plural noun, the pronoun pointing to it must be also plural - those.

Just as a reminder 🤓 these are the pronouns. ⬇️⬇️⬇️

Let’s take a look at real SAT problems. 👀

1️⃣ 👉What are you comparing❓

This problem is confusing because it is hard to locate what is actually being compared. 🤯

Here, the author compares the song complexity of the Bengalis finch to the song complexity of the white-rumped munia. Song complexity is a singular noun and requires a pronoun “THAT” - therefore the correct answer is A.

Another example:

1️⃣ 👉What are you comparing❓

The work of an eighteenth-century poet to the work of a third-century poet.

The work is a singular noun and it requires a pronoun THAT.

Here, we can not choose A, because we can’t compare the work of 18th century poets to a third century one. The pronoun ONE will always map to the nearest singular noun, which is a poet. We need to compare the work to the work. Work is a third person singular, therefore the pronoun is going to be that of. The answer is C ✅.

If you’d rather learn from video, here is a link for you⬇️⬇️⬇️



📘To buy my speed reading book -