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