Commas and Quotations on the SAT® Exam

Commas and Quotations on the SAT® Exam
Here are a few quick rules that can help when you’re working on questions about commas and quotations on the SAT Writing and Language Test.
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Commas and Quotations on the SAT® Exam
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Important SAT Update: Transition to Digital SAT
Effective December 3, 2023, the traditional paper-and-pencil format of the SAT has been discontinued. Starting in 2024, all students are required to take the Digital SAT, ushering in substantial changes in duration, format, material coverage, and question types. This shift to the Digital SAT represents a departure from traditional testing methods. It is crucial for students, educators, and test-takers to acquaint themselves with the new examination structure. Read more about the Digital SAT here.

Several questions on the SAT exam require students to know where commas should be placed in relation to quotations:

Before the beginning of the quotation, commas should be placed after the last word, which is usually a verb.

UWorld College Prep SAT and ACT Example:
In answer to an eight-year-old girl's Christmas query, the Sun commented, "Yes, Virginia, there Is a Santa Claus."

When the quotation occurs in the middle of the sentence, commas should be placed before and after the quotation. Likewise, if a quotation doesn’t end a sentence, a comma should be placed just after the quotation as well.

UWorld College Prep SAT and ACT Example:							         Comma
On November 3, 1948, the Chicago Daily Tribune headline declared, "Dewey Defeats Truman," which was incorrect because Harry S. Truman actually won the presidency.

Note: the comma after the quotation in the above example is placed inside the quotation mark.

Sometimes the quotation is interrupted with information about who said it, in which case a comma should be placed on either side of the interruption.

UWorld College Prep SAT and ACT Example:	"There are three things extremely hard," said Ben Franklin, "steel, a diamond, and to know one's self."

Although this type of question doesn’t appear often on the SAT, knowing where to place commas makes such questions much easier and improves the grammar of your own writing. For more practice with comma placement or other types of punctuation, use the released tests provided by the College Board or practice online with exam-like questions at websites like UWorld.

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