• (434) 296-5111
    Great Falls
  • (703) 759-3624
  • (703) 288-2808

SAT Writing

SAT Writing

The SAT’s Writing test was added in 2005, testing a variety of grammar and usage concepts alongside a timed essay exercise assessing students’ writing skills. The essay’s emphasis on timed, student-produced work is challenging for many test takers, and the grammatical concepts covered on the multiple choice sections also test students’ attention to detail. An overview of the SAT Writing test is listed below for students and parents who are planning for the SAT.


1. SAT Writing Overview
2. Writing Content
3. GLC’s Approach to SAT Writing


SAT Writing Overview

The SAT Writing test covers a variety of grammar and usage topics in two multiple choice sections, and also includes a timed, 25-minute essay, which is always the first section of the SAT. What’s in store for students taking the SAT Writing test?

  • Timed Writing with No Warmup. The essay asks students to brainstorm, organize, and compose a thoughtful response in the span of 25 minutes. This is no small feat, especially considering that the essay is the first section on the SAT, and that students will likely need a few minutes to “warm up”. Students should prioritize the fundamentals of good writing (like organization, thesis strength, and supporting evidence) instead of worrying about producing an error-free paper.
  • Surprisingly Generic Essay Prompts. The SAT essay asks students to respond to a prompt using evidence drawn from current events, history, literature, or personal experience. Many students find the essay question disarming, both because it tends to be very generic and because it permits them to use personal experience and first-person voice, which is typically discouraged in school. Students who practice writing SAT-style essays before the test date equip themselves with the experience and confidence needed to perform well under pressure.
  • A Limited Grammatical Focus. The multiple choice sections do test a number of grammar and usage concepts, but it only emphasizes a few major ones like subject-verb agreement, pronouns, and parallel structure. Students who aren’t grammatically inclined should focus their prep efforts on these core concepts instead of worrying about obscure rules that aren’t tested frequently.
  • Instincts Paying Off. Students often overthink the SAT Writing multiple choice questions due to anxiety, but most test takers hear, read, and use (mostly) correct English on a daily basis. While some rules are trickier than others, students often perform well on the SAT when they try to identify what “doesn’t sound right” instead of worrying about dozens of grammar rules and terms.


Writing Content

In addition to the essay, the SAT Writing test includes three types of multiple choice questions: grammar usage, sentence corrections, and paragraph corrections.


Grammar Usage Concepts

Usage questions on the SAT Writing test ask students to identify the error in each sentence. Some sentences do not contain errors. On these questions, students are tested on the grammar concepts listed below:

  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Pronoun Usage
  • Parallel Structure
  • Adjectives and Adverbs
  • Miscellaneous Usage


Sentence Corrections

Sentence correction questions require students to choose the best possible revision to an underlined portion of a sentence, which may or may not contain an error. In addition to the concepts listed above in the usage section, sentence corrections cover the concepts below:

  • Misplaced Modifiers
  • Run-On Sentences
  • Sentence Fragments
  • Incorrect Conjunctions


Paragraph Corrections

The SAT also includes a few questions related to revising a short reading passage. These questions cover organizational issues and other concepts that can’t be tested in a single sentence, such as:

  • Revising Entire Sentences
  • Combining Sentences
  • General Organization and Flow


GLC’s Approach to SAT Writing

Writing is the least favorite SAT section for many students because it forces them to write and learn 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 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 essay is inherently stressful because it’s timed, but it only requires students to do the big-picture elements like organization, thesis statement, and supporting evidence well. SAT graders are tolerant of a few mistakes here and there, as long as the essay answers the question clearly. On a similar note, the vast majority of the multiple choice 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.


Experience Yields Results

In many ways, SAT Writing is the least strategic section on the test, but students still benefit from the confidence gained by testing experience. In particular, it’s only possible to become a better writer by practicing and learning from mistakes, which is why we offer regular opportunities—in class, on homework assignments, and during practice tests—to tackle the essay. Students who know what to expect are better equipped to budget their time on the essay and achieve all of the big-picture benchmarks graders are looking for.


Personalized Feedback

The essay is not a “one-size-fits-all” exercise, and each student has different strengths and weaknesses in terms of style, organization, and pacing. That’s why we provide hands-on essay 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 their essays substantially after opportunities to practice and receive personalized help.


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


SAT Success at GLC!

Copyright © Georgetown Learning Centers, 1998 - 2016. All rights reserved.
SAT and AP are registered trademarks of the College Board, which is not affiliated with Georgetown Learning Centers.
ACT is a registered trademark of ACT, Inc., which is not affiliated with Georgetown Learning Centers.