SAT Writing and Language Test Breakdown

•    35 minutes 

•    44 questions
•    4 passages
•    Multiple-choice

•    You receive 1 raw point for a correct answer
•    You lose nothing for answering incorrectly
•    Your raw score is calculated by tallying the raw points
•    The raw score is converted to a scale score from 10-40, known as the Writing and Language test score
•    The Writing and Language test score is combined with your Reading test score to produce an overall Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score from 200-800
•    Sub-scores are also included on a 1-15 scale for the following: Words in Context, Command of Evidence, Expression of Ideas, and Standard English Conventions
•    Some of the sub-scores will actually count for two cross-test scores: Analysis in Science and Analysis in History/Social Studies
•    In the end, college admissions offices will put a greater emphasis on the 200-800 Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score

Standard English Conventions
•    Conventions of usage
•    Sentence structure
•    Conventions of punctuation
Expression of Ideas
•    Development
•    Organization
•    Effective language use

Two Content Areas
Standard English Conventions
•    20 questions
•    Conventions of usage: pronoun clarity, possessive determiners, agreement, frequently confused words, logical comparison
•    Sentence structure: sentence boundaries, subordination and coordination, parallel structure, modifier placement, shifts in verb tense, mood, voice, pronoun person and number
•    Conventions of punctuation: end-of-sentence, within-sentence, possessive, items in series, nonrestrictive and parenthetical, unnecessary
Expression of Ideas
•    24 questions
•    Development: proposition, support, focus, quantitative information
•    Organization: logical sequence, introduction, conclusions, transitions
•    Effective language use: precision, concision, style and tone, syntax
•    Questions will follow the order of the passage
•    Unlike the SAT math section, the questions do not progress in level of difficulty
•    The student must read 4 essays that are about the same length
•    Every essay has 11 questions about style, grammar, and strategy
•    The essays range in topic and understanding: from 9th grade to college-level essays
•    One passage in each of the following: careers, history, humanities, and science
•    Types of passages: 1 nonfiction, 1-2 explanatory, 1-2 argumentative


SAT Writing Tips

  1. Focus on one passage at a time
  2. Each passage of 11 questions should be finished within 8 minutes
  3. Answer the easier questions first and focus on one question at a time
  4. Patience is what allows you to work more quickly and accurately
  5. Use the two-pass approach for each passage
  6. Use the process of elimination
  7. Once you’ve eliminated an answer, cross it out in the test booklet
  8. Shorter is always better! The SAT prefers writing that is precise and concise
  9. A question will never test more than two errors
  10. “No Change” is usually the answer ¼ of the time it appears as an answer choice
  11. Don’t find errors where none exist
  12. The keys to the correct answer often lie within the question
  13. Anticipate the answer and come up with it on your own
  14. Questions about the main idea, author’s intent, or purpose, will often require reading the entire paragraph or beyond it

Do you need some help with the SAT writing section? Call us to find out how we can help!