The writing section of the SAT uses multiple choice questions for Identifying Sentence Errors, Improving Sentences, and Improving Paragraphs.
- In Identifying Sentence Errors, you are expected to spot a grammatical error. In Improving Sentences, you are expected to correct a grammatical error. In Improving Paragraphs, you are expected to correct an error in logic and language within the context of an entire passage.
General strategies can help you solve each of these problems. The test does not try to trick you, but it does assess your knowledge of grammar, so you will need to know basic grammar to do well.
Here are six simple strategies to help you solve the multiple choice questions:
1. Read carefully
Lots of mistakes occur because the student did not read carefully enough. This is the first and most important part. You must understand the question and the answer options fully.
2. Don’t delay
Time is of the essence. You must read carefully, yet quickly. This takes practice. Many students spend too much time on Identifying Sentence Errors and run out of time. Learn to pace yourself. Don’t get stuck on one problem. Move on if you have to, and come back later. Study and practice will help you find a rhythm that will allow you to solve all of the problems in the allotted time, with accuracy.
3. Read aloud in your head (internal vocalization)
You should hear the words in your head. This can help you catch errors faster than by simply seeing the words on the page. Most students hear English much more than they read it. Let your ear be your guide.
4. Review your grammar
Understanding basic grammar is the key to doing well on the SAT writing section. Your instincts for language can help you, but you also need to know the rules. You don’t need to know fancy grammar terms like “gerund,” but you do need to know how to use a gerund in sentence.
5. Know your choices
For Improving Sentences and Improving Paragraphs, read all of the answer choices before answering the question. For Identifying Sentence Errors, however, you should not look at the answer choices until you have identified the error in the sentence.
6. Pretend you’re helping someone else
To take the pressure off, pretend you are grading a friend’s paper. They’ve come to you with a problem. Their writing sucks. Can you help them? Read over the problem and give your “friend” the best advice you can by answering the question.
Keep these simple strategies in mind when faced with SAT multiple choice questions.