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SAT Writing

SAT Writing and Language

The SAT Writing and Language Test examines a student’s ability to understand and edit short essays for grammatical correctness and clarity. The Writing and Language Test has 4 passages with 11 corresponding questions per passage. There is no order of difficulty and each question is worth the same amount, so students may start with the passages they like best. Passage topics include careers, history/social studies, humanities, and sciences and are written in argumentative, informative/explanatory, and nonfiction narrative formats. Some passages may include infographics that will support the authors’ central claims.


We can group the questions in this section into two major content areas – Standard English Conventions and Expression of Ideas.

  • Standard English Conventions include topics like Conventions of Usage (e.g., pronoun usage, subject-verb agreement, frequently confused words), Sentence Structure (e.g., parallel structure, shifts in verb tense, run-ons and sentence fragments), and Conventions of Punctuation (e.g., end-of-sentence and within-sentence punctuation, possessive punctuation, parenthetical punctuation).
  • Expression of Ideas tests a student’s ability to examine and improve a passage for clarity, support, and organization. In particular, the major content areas are Development (e.g., proposition, support, focus), Organization (e.g., transitions, introduction, conclusion), and Effective Language Use (e.g., precision, tone, syntax).

      GLC’s Tips for the SAT Writing and Language Test

      DO review your grammar and punctuation rules.
      The SAT will expect you to know things like when to use a semi-colon over a colon and the differences between there, their, and they’re.

      DO work quickly.
      You should spend about 8 minutes per passage, which means you’ll have to answer about 11 questions in 8 minutes (your fastest pacing on the entire test!).

      DO pick shorter answers.
      Many times the shortest, most concise answer will be the best way to edit a passage.

      DON’T try to fix everything.
      Some questions will ask about a part of a passage that does not need to be fixed. Sometimes the correct answer will be “No Change”.

      DON’T always trust your ear.
      The SAT tests common phrases we all use that are actually grammatically incorrect. Focus your prep on noticing and correcting to commonly-used mistakes.

      DON’T read the passage in full before answering the questions.
      Read and answer questions simultaneously so you can understand the context and author’s point of view.


      GLC’s Approach to SAT Writing and Language

      The Writing and Language Test can be a tricky one for many students because it forces them to apply grammar rules, but it is possible to improve considerably on these skills with the right prep program. We focus on teaching essential skills and providing in-depth feedback on practice materials so students refine their weaknesses, build confidence, and achieve great results.


      Master the Essentials

      On the SAT Writing and Language test, students can save themselves a lot of anxiety by focusing on core skills instead of worrying about every last grammar rule and usage mistake. The vast majority of the test’s questions prioritize everyday topics like subject-verb agreement and pronoun usage, meaning that students simply don’t have to worry about every single bit of grammar.


      Personalized Feedback

      Writing and Language is not a “one-size-fits-all” test, and each student has different strengths and weaknesses in terms of grammar knowledge and organizational skills. That’s why we provide hands-on feedback in class and during our Study Lounges so students are getting the precise feedback they need instead of the “cookie-cutter” feedback they don’t. Students in our program typically improve substantially after opportunities to practice and receive personalized help.


      Smart prep helps students avoid anxiety on the SAT Writing and Language test and achieve the scores they’re capable of. Click the button below to learn more about our programs, view class schedules, or register for SAT Prep.


      SAT Success at GLC!

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