Conciseness Exercise (583)

In each sentence, delete superfluous words or phrases.

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The most successful school districts, districts that are able to raise student achievement and narrow achievement gaps systemwide, approach the work of improvement with focus, intensity, and coherence.
Correct : The most successful school districts, those able to raise student achievement and narrow achievement gaps systemwide, approach the work of improvement with focus, intensity, and coherence.

The phrase "that are" is easily omitted without any loss of comprehension, and note, too, the replacement of the pronoun "those" in place of the distracting immediate repetition of "districts." In a speech, such duplication might have a rhetorical value, but in workaday prose, it is awkward.

2.
Original: Are there any important activities or priorities that have been postponed?
Correct : Have any important activities or priorities been postponed?

The expletive at the head of this sentence signals an opportunity to pare a few words from the question and make it more direct and active.

3.
Original: The questions below are organized into four sections: 1) questions about the plan’s development process and about stakeholder experience, 2) questions about the plan’s elements, 3) questions about the connections among its key elements, and 4) questions about the plan’s implementation.
Correct : The questions below are organized into four sections: questions about 1) the plan’s development process and stakeholder experience, 2) its elements, 3) the connections among its key elements, and 4) its implementation.

The original version of this sentence is not incorrect, but the fact that the four list items begin with the same two words (and all but one share the same four-word phrase) signals an opportunity to craft a more concise revision.

4.
Original: One example of mobile learning being used to the full was a study I conducted in 2013. This study had fourth-grade students learning about angles in mathematics.
Correct : One example of mobile learning being used to the full was a study I conducted in 2013 in which fourth-grade students learned about angles in mathematics.

A sentence starting with a phrase also used in the sentence immediately previous to it can often be folded into the preceding sentence, as shown here.

5.
Original: Our set of testing options is flexible and enables you to obtain insights for your patients at your own pace.
Correct : Our flexible set of testing options enables you to obtain insights for your patients at your own pace.

When an adjective follows a form of the verb phrase "to be," the adjective can often be relocated to precede the noun it refers to and the verb can be omitted, as in the revised version.

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