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How to Master SAT Writing? 6 Must-Know Tips to Improve Your Score

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

Attaining an impressive score in the Writing section isn’t a cakewalk and requires persistent efforts and dedication. The Writing section contains questions based on command of evidence, words in context, specific subject area analysis, expression of ideas and standard English conventions. Since the SAT exam has three compulsory sections namely Math, Reading and Writing, it’s necessary to score equally well in all the three sections. Students often find it challenging to score well in the Writing section as they have not been exposed to these kinds of questions in school tests.

However, following a few tips and tricks will help you obtain a good score in this section. The test is conducted in an MCQ format and each question has only one correct answer. There isn’t any need to write long answers to prove your writing skills here. If you dread the SAT Writing section and aren’t sure how to go about preparing for this section, you have come to the right place. This article will exclusively focus on tips to avoid common pitfalls and improve your Writing scores.

Best SAT Writing Tips for a Perfect Score

College admissions are all about drawing comparisons between numerous applicants and a perfect score would definitely work to your advantage and set you apart from the competition. If you are already struggling with the Writing section, a perfect score may seem like an impossible feat to attain. Here are a few handy tips to obtain a perfect score in SAT writing:

1. Be thorough with the grammar rules

SAT tests students’ knowledge of grammar fundamentals. There are several rules pertinent to usage of punctuation like commas, colons, semicolons in sentences and SAT requires students to apply these rules in the context of passage. Punctuation, subject/verb and pronoun agreement, idioms and homophone usage, parallel construction, comparison/description, precision, sentence fragments, pronoun, verb forms, modifiers among others are the key areas to be covered during SAT preparation. Students should memorize the rules, work on rectifying improper usage and mechanics and take practice tests consistently. Though you will find more questions on punctuation usage, you should master the less common rules too if you are aiming for a perfect score.

SAT Grammar
Students should memorize essential grammar rules

2. Master rhetoric questions

While the grammar section can be cracked by learning the rules, the rhetoric category of the Writing section requires students to have a good grasp over the writing strategies. The broad categories covered include sentence function, concision, tone, transition, logical sequence, precision and quantitative. Students will have to determine the tone and style of the piece of the text, assess the coherence of paragraphs, sentences and phrases, determine if a sentence fits well and examine evidence for inferences. You will also need to learn reading graphs and charts as some questions would require you to make sense of figures in the context of text. One of the simplest and most effective ways to master writing strategies is to read passages on a variety of topics daily. Instead of simply reading for pleasure, analyze the passages and identify the Writing strategies that come into play in these passages. Once you understand how the author employs different strategies, you will be able to master every single rhetorical skill.

3. Practice every question to perfection

There is no shortcut to success. It takes lots of practice before you can nail that perfect score. Students committed to achieving a perfect Writing score will need to dedicate at least 8 hours a week. Study time should be utilized in the best possible way without indulging in any distractions like cell phones, music or television. Devote one hour daily to practice the Writing section and you will see that scoring an 800 is not as difficult as you imagined it to be.

The choice of study materials also influences your scores. You need the right study materials and practice tests to make the most of your study time. Take practice tests that mirror the actual test to get acquainted with the test format. Make a note of questions that you are unable to answer and try to figure out if there is a specific pattern to your wrong answers. Pinpoint if it’s idioms, punctuations or rhetoric skills that need to be worked on and align your preparation accordingly. Even questions that you got correct by guesswork need to be reviewed again so you are 100% sure the next time you attempt an answer.

4. Justify each correct answer

You should be able to justify why a certain answer is correct. Quite often students aren’t well versed with the grammar rules and go about choosing answers that sound right to them. Such an approach may lead to silly errors. Even if a sentence may sound a bit off, it might still be grammatically correct. SAT Writing questions might be tricky and the errors in sentences may not be too obvious. You need to be absolutely clear about all the rules and concepts to identify the correct answer choice. While practicing, see if you can explain why the chosen answer is correct with solid reasons.

5. Beware of ‘No Change’ answers

Since the SAT Writing exam is in MCQ format, you will see ‘No Change’ as one of the answer choices for questions that test your ability to spot errors in passages. If you find yourself selecting ‘No Change’ answer for around 40% of the time, chances are that you are unable to spot errors in the sentence. The SAT exam purposely includes ‘No Change’ as an answer choice to confuse students who aren’t well-versed with the grammar rules. Whenever you select ‘No Change’ answer, double check to make sure it is right.

6. Always select the most concise answer

You may also encounter questions with more than one grammatically correct answer. If more than one answer seems correct, you need to select one that’s the most concise. First eliminate answers that are absolutely wrong and narrow down your answer to just 2 options. Read the answer choices carefully and select the option that conveys the message in the clearest manner.

Types of questions in the SAT Writing section

The SAT Writing section has a specific pattern to it. If you understand what skills are being tested through each type of question, you can channel your efforts in the right direction. Here is a rundown of the types of questions that you will encounter in the SAT Writing section.

1. Command of Evidence

Command of Evidence contains questions that require thorough analysis of the passages. Common questions pertaining to sentence addition in the passage fall under this category. Students must ensure that any additional sentence provided in the question adds value to the paragraph. Command of Evidence basically requires students to think like an author. The ability to understand the significance of additional information for a given passage and author’s use of evidence to support their claims are critical skills tested in this section.

2. Words in context

Questions in this section will test students' command over vocabulary. Students should be able to figure out the meaning of words in different contexts. As one word can have different meanings depending on the usage and context, it is important that students thoroughly understand the context before attempting to answer.

3. Specific subject area analysis

This section contains passages based on history, social studies and science and test takers are expected to make editorial decisions to improve these passages. Students don’t need to have any background knowledge as their ability to improve the flow and diction of passages is tested here.

4. Expression of ideas

The main focus here is organization of passage. Students will have to analyze whether the choice of words and paragraph structure are right in this section. Questions pertaining to reordering of sentences are one of the most commonly asked questions. Students need to read the passage carefully to determine the most appropriate order of the sentences.

5. Standard English Conventions

Your knowledge of punctuation, verb tense, subject-verb agreement, and parallel construction are tested under this category. Internet slang and texting have led students to pay less attention to grammar and punctuation in sentences. This means students often fail to spot major grammatical errors in sentences during exams. Knowledge of the common building blocks of writing is an important prerequisite to master this section.

Wrapping up

Attaining a perfect score in SAT Writing can be extremely helpful if you wish to choose a specific course that demands excellent grasp over language skills. Even if it demands extra efforts, it is still worth pursuing a perfect score in SAT Writing. SAT Writing consists of 44 multiple choice questions with roughly 48 seconds to answer each question. Time management is therefore of crucial importance.

Once you understand the specific skills that will be tested in the exam, you can easily master the tricks and strategies that lead you to high scores. Study smart and start your preparation in advance so you don’t have to deal with unnecessary stress at the last minute. There are plenty of SAT Writing tests that you can take so you know where exactly to focus your time and energy. A systematic approach is key to sharpen the right skills. If you think you need more structured help to prepare for SAT Writing, you can always seek assistance from a reputable training institute.

Prestige Institute is one of the pioneers in providing personalized SAT/ACT preparation courses using the latest education technology. With an individualized care system developed on the basis of student data, it helps students find the fastest route to achieve their dream scores. Equipped with in-person as well as online training facilities, students can receive just the help they need through intensive consulting and interactive learning sessions. Prestige also offers live tutoring sessions with industry experts for students who call for more efficient route towards their target score. Get in touch with us today and you are finally set to encounter the turning point in your preparation journey!

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