The New SAT Writing section has undergone quite the facelift. All the elements of the old SAT Writing have been bundled into passages that look a lot like the ACT English section. Now, instead of proofreading individual sentences, you will have to edit a passage. So how should you go about getting a perfect score on this newly-minted part of the SAT? Here are some tips.
Become a grammar geek
Some lucky people already love grammar, but even if that’s not you, you need to channel their passion at least until the test. The SAT is predictable in that it tests the same concepts in each SAT. Thus, there are certain grammar concepts that you just have to know to do well on the SAT Writing. Educate yourself about these concepts before the test and you will be amazed at how much easier the Writing section becomes.
Read the Context
The biggest change on the Writing section is that all the questions will be based on the context of the passage. This means that even though a question might only be asking about a small, underlined portion of a sentence, you should read the entire sentence around that underlined portion. If the question asks you to insert or remove a sentence from the passage, re-read the entire paragraph to make sure you understand its full context and how the sentence may fit or conflict with it. Once you have chosen an answer, re-read it within the context of the sentence or paragraph to make sure it fits with the flow of the passage.
Embrace the NO CHANGE answer
On many of the questions in the Writing section, the first answer will simply say “NO CHANGE”. Many students shy away from picking this answer because it feels like there should always be an error, but each passage usually has at least one selection that doesn’t need correcting. To feel more confident when faced with these questions, read each selection carefully before checking the answers. Look for the types of errors that you know pop up on the test (because you’re such a grammar geek now, right?). If you don’t see any, examine the answer choices and decide if any of them would improve on the original. If none do, pick “NO CHANGE”. Two to four no-error answers per passage shouldn’t worry you too much. If you get five or more, you might want to double check them, as there aren’t usually that many per passage. (But there might be, so don’t freak out)
Answer every question
This goes for all sections of the new SAT. Remember that you gain a point per correct answer, but will not lose points for incorrect answers. Therefore, you always want to answer every question in every section, even if you didn’t get a chance to read them. Of course, that’s not the ideal situation, so try to manage your time so you get a fair shot at every question.
Use every moment
Speaking of time, make the most of it! The Writing section is often the section that people get through the fastest, but that doesn’t mean you should take a nap. Take the opportunity to revisit any questions that you weren’t sure about and double check that you are confident about any “NO CHANGE” answers you selected. Don’t start changing answers right and left, but if you did make any careless mistakes, this is the time to fix them.
A perfect score on the Writing section (adding up to a perfect 800 score with Reading and Writing) is absolutely achievable if you approach it the right way. Take these tips and go conquer it!
For even more SAT Writing and Language practice, check out Magoosh’s expert advice here!
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About Elizabeth Peterson
Elizabeth holds a degree in Psychology from The College of William & Mary. While there, she volunteered as a tutor and discovered she loved the personal connection she formed with her students. She has now been helping students with test prep and schoolwork as a professional tutor for over six years. When not discussing grammar or reading passages, she can be found trying every drink at her local coffee shop while writing creative short stories and making plans for her next travel adventure!
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