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The addition of a grammar test to the SAT is a relatively recent development that the College Board rolled out in 2005. Essentially, they took what was previously a separate SAT 2 test and attached it to the SAT 1.

This has made many parents and educators unhappy, and of course high school students are even more miserable than ever when faced with preparing for a long standardized test that just got even longer.

However, if you start your SAT prep early, the SAT Writing multiple choice section is going to work in your favor. That’s because other than a handful of questions about paragraph structure, you’re only asked to notice grammatical mistakes, never to explain them or name them. You only have to “hear” that they sound wrong. It’s just one big “yes or no” question. “Right or wrong?” That’s the only query you’re ever expected to answer on the SAT Writing test.

You also can improve your score if you simply learn the most important basic grammar rules tested on the SAT Writing section. Some SAT teachers would stop me here and say “Wait a second. The SAT Writing section breaks down into three sections, with three different types of multiple choice problems:”  

Types of SAT Writing Multiple-Choice Questions:

1. Sentence Improvement

The test gives 5 different ways of writing the same sentence, and you choose the “best” version.  

2. Error Identification

One sentence per question, with four short underlined segments of that sentence. Pick the underlined part with a grammatical mistake hidden in it, or choose “no error” if the sentence is fine.  

3. Paragraph Improvement

Partially like the other 2 types and partially different. The difference is that you are asked to improve sentences and structure in the context of a short passage, while the other question types stand alone and don’t not have a bigger context to fit in to. Paragraph improvement is about context.  

Everything depends on knowing the Writing rules:

“See?” says that SAT teacher. “They test grammar in lots of different ways. Look at all the different problem types!” True, parts of the SAT Writing section look different from each other, but because it’s a multiple-choice test, all we have to do is notice when there’s a mistake.

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Whether it’s a mistake in an Error Identification question, or a mistake in an answer choice in a Sentence Improvement section, we just need to know if it’s RIGHT or WRONG. Nothing else! It’s just one “yes” or “no” question after another. Right or wrong? Does it follow the SAT grammar rules or break the rules?

So – all you have to do is learn the specific “rules” that the SAT plays by, practice them, and get the 800 out of 800 that you so “write-fully” deserve. (Ugh, I know I’m terrible)

Additional Resources:
SAT Grammar Crammer Workbook
The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar (Review Article)
How to Hack the SAT Writing Section
More SAT Writing Articles at

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