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How to Ace the SAT Writing Section!

Updated: May 17, 2023

Students applying particularly for liberal arts and social science majors have technically more chance to avail scholarships and admissions in top tier universities based on their SAT’s English scores. I always tell my students not to stress if they are a bit weak when it comes to numbers since they can make up for it in the English section. Writing in SAT, although often interpreted as taxing and put aside till the end to be dealt with later, should be prepared for as systematically and consistently as possible.

For starters, all students should not be under the impression that since they have a general idea about grammar they are prepared to attempt the SAT writing section. When preparing for the writing section you need to follow the grammar rules of SAT books and practice paper keys. A few rules differ from your basic perception of grammar and so have to be practiced over and over again. Some of the grammar rules I impress upon my students to focus upon most are:

Subject-Verb Agreement, Pronoun-Antecedent, Modifiers, Parallel Structure, Punctuation, Infographics, Diction, Idioms and Confused Words, etc.

When preparing for this section, it is vital for you to grasp the above mentioned topics especially punctuation and how to combine clauses. You should know how to use commas, periods, colons, dashes, etc. since a lot of questions are set to deliberately confuse the student with interplay of punctuations.

Please note that this test is measuring your:

  • comprehensive ability

  • use of language and

  • understanding of rhetoric

Having analyzed SAT papers with great scrutiny, I have realized around 10-12 questions are easily doable since they do not deal with hardcore grammar but general concepts like adding, deleting and revising information. At Tutoria, my first lecture focuses on this aspect encouraging students to make transitions between some basic ideas to choose from: reinforcement, cause and effect, contrast, topic sentence, conclusion sentence, transitions etc. Furthermore, I stress upon understanding the main theme of the paragraph by highlighting important points, how the paragraphs relate to each other and how the ideas and sentences relate to each other.

Time management is the key and it costs a lot of potential marks even if you have prepared well. When aiming for 750 or 800, even a seconds delay matters and so every 35 min section should be practiced at home at your own schedule everyday for at least 2 months. It is important the 4 passages should be read using the "mark up and summarize strategy" which I always stress upon to highlight important points and summarize the passage briefly before proceeding to questions. Every missed question should not be let go of and you should ponder over why it took so much time to identify the clue to the answer. Moreover, you should be able to identify patterns of SAT grammar questions that perplex you more than others and work on it. With practice and intelligent approach, you will be able to ace the writing section in no time. :)

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