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Writing Stems

Present a single, definite statement to be completed or answered by one of the several given choices

A. Weak question:
Polysaccharide
  1. are made up of thousands of smaller units called monosaccharides
  2. are NOT found in the aloe vera leaf
  3. are created during photosynthesis
  4. can be described by the chemical formula: CHHOH


B. Improved question:
Polysaccharides of the plant cell wall are synthesized mainly in
  1. the endoplasmic reticulum
  2. the cytosol
  3. the plasma membrane
  4. the Golgi complex
  5. amyloplasts

Improved question from GRE - Biochmistry, cell and molecular biology test 1997-1999

In Example A, there is no sense from the stem what the question is asking. Example B more clearly identifies the question and offers the student a set of homogeneous choices.

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