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How Hard is SAT Writing?

High schoolers across the country need a strong score on the SAT to boost their college applications. For some students, the writing section worries them the most. With 30% of the writing score based on a timed essay and 70% based on multiple-choice writing questions, students wonder, “How hard is the SAT writing? Will this be the section that ruins my overall score?”

Let’s dispel these myths as much as possible and get to the heart of the matter—really, how hard is SAT writing?

 

“How hard is SAT writing if I never learned how to hold a pencil?”

Very, very hard since you have to write an essay and bubble in answer choices. Honestly, you have bigger problems than the SAT. But you are just being silly. :P Let’s move on.

 

“How hard is SAT writing if I write lots of text messages?”

Probably pretty tough. Most text messages lack proper grammar and most spelling rules are obfuscated to meet the character limits of a message. LOL and FOMO abound, and strong examples of sentence variety do not. Without strong examples of English writing conventions, you will be a in tough spot on the test when you have to write an essay and answer questions about comma splices. If this is the only type of writing you do, you will find the SAT writing very challenging.

 

“How hard is SAT writing if I write on Facebook and Tumblr, like, all the time?”

If you keep including the word “like” in your writing, you are going to have trouble scoring well on the essay. But maybe you will fair well on the multiple choice section. It really comes down to the types of things you are writing and who is reading. If your friends are reading your writing, they probably care very little about the conventions of written English, and rarely, if ever, point out errors in your use of prepositions.

Ultimately, it is great that you are writing so much. At least you are taking the time to write your thoughts and share them with the world, but you may need to brush up on your essay formula and how to respond to the prompts on the test to make SAT writing a little easier.

 

“How hard is SAT writing if I write essays in school?”

Now we are getting warmer. The essays you write in school are the best corollary for the SAT writing section. The demands that your teachers place on your writing are the same demands placed on you by the SAT graders. You have to organize your ideas, take a stand on an issue, and support your stance with examples. Both your teacher and the College Board expect you to follow the rules of grammar and punctuation.

But just because you write essays, you may find it hard to actually spot grammar errors in other people’s writing. Can you identify run-on sentences easily or subject-verb agreement errors? If not, keep writing for class, but also take the time to review the common conventions of good writing and the common grammar errors tested to make SAT writing a little easier.

 

“How hard is SAT writing if I am a published author?”

First, congratulations on your publications! If you happened to be a published author, you will find the writing section easier than most. But that does not mean it will not be hard. For one, writing a book or article is quite different than what you are expected to do on test day. Also, published authors have editors that check for grammar and style errors, and many other people are involved in the process of publishing a book. So you might have more work to do.

No resting on your laurels in SAT writing. You may know how to organize your thoughts, be convincing, and work under a deadline, but SAT writing requires more. You need to learn about the essay prompts, understand common wrong answers, and common grammar points that are tested to make the SAT writing not as hard.

 

“How hard is SAT writing if I am William Shakespeare?”

Shakespeare would probably fail the writing section of the SAT—maybe the whole test for that matter. Although a masterful playwright and maybe the most famous English author, his style of writing is not an asset on the SAT. Much has changed since late the 1500s—idioms, style conventions, timed tests, and smart phones would cause Shakespeare serious trouble.

So Shakespeare is not who you should aspire to be on test day. Be yourself. Write in your voice. Support your opinions. Follow your gut. These are the keys to success and the ways to make hard SAT writing easier.

 

About the Author

Kevin has taught for over ten years from San Francisco to Japan, helping students prepare for tests, like the GRE, GMAT, and SAT. He enjoys sharing what he learned, so even more students can achieve their goals. When he is not helping students dominate standardized tests, you can find him in the Pacific Ocean or on a granite dome in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Follow him on Google+ and on Twitter @KevinRocci!

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