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Lucas Fink

How Many SAT Writing Questions Are “No Error”?

Before we answer the question, let’s review the types of SAT writing questions. Two kinds of writing multiple choice questions always have an option to leave the sentence or phrase as it is; identifying sentence error questions have the option of (E), “No error,” and improving sentence questions always repeat the underlined section without any changes in choice (A). Improving paragraph questions, meanwhile, might not give the option of leaving an underlined section be. Sometimes it’s there, but a lot of the time it’s not.

Altogether, that means you have the option to leave the sentence be on something like 90% of writing multiple choice questions.


Don’t be afraid to pick answer choice (E): “No error”

In a list of the answers to any one version of the SAT, you’ll see a pretty even distribution of (A), (B), (C), (D), and (E) answers. Since those “no error” options are always (E) in identifying sentence error questions, they make up about a fifth of the answers, there. The same goes for choice (A) in improving sentences.

Clearly, errorless sentences show up a bunch. On most tests, you’ll see somewhere between 7 and 10 questions that are just fine as they are.

If you see two in a row, then, so what? Did you care when the answer was (B) twice in a row? You probably didn’t even notice. Don’t second guess yourself for that reason alone. If you’ve systematically gone through and found no problem, then there probably isn’t one.


Learn from your mistakes with practice SAT questions

The other way this can go wrong is by choosing “no error” too often. This is a less common mistake, but it definitely happens. If you want to get better about it, you have to pay close attention to your practice questions. How often do you miss an error just because you’re rushing? It’s easy to shoot right by a subject-verb agreement issue if you don’t go through the sentence piece by piece.

Or maybe you’re choosing “no error” too often because you need to brush up on some grammar.  There are a good number of topics that the SAT covers, but they’re not hard to learn in a relatively short time, so make sure your arsenal is fully stocked with that info.


About Lucas Fink

Lucas is the teacher behind Magoosh TOEFL. He’s been teaching TOEFL preparation and more general English since 2009, and the SAT since 2008. Between his time at Bard College and teaching abroad, he has studied Japanese, Czech, and Korean. None of them come in handy, nowadays.

2 Responses to “How Many SAT Writing Questions Are “No Error”?”

  1. Alli says:

    Great advice, thanks!
    Should the last sentence in the second section read “The same goes for choice (A) in improving sentences”?

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