How to Improve Your SAT® Writing Score: 8 Useful Strategies That Work!

How to Improve Your SAT® Writing Score: 8 Useful Strategies That Work!
Learn practical strategies to ace your SAT® Writing test by improving your understanding of question format and timing. Find ways to select the right option even when you don't know the answer.
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How to Improve Your SAT® Writing Score: 8 Useful Strategies That Work!
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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.

We have some great tips to implement into your study plan and test-taking strategy for the SAT® Writing and Language test!

Here are some strategies to consider as you prepare for the SAT Writing test.

Get Comfortable With the Time Limit

A lot of students looking to improve their scores struggle with the timed aspect of the exam. It is a great idea to practice timing yourself for each question. If you find yourself getting stuck and wasting time, it is a good idea to skip that question and come back to it later. To maximize your scoring potential, focus on answering as many questions as you can. You can always go back to more difficult ones if you have time at the end.

Know Your Basic Grammar Rules

This section of the exam will focus on your ability to revise, edit, and correct grammatical or rhetorical errors. Many students will falter by choosing answers that sound right rather than basing their choices on grammar rules. Set yourself up for success by studying proper verb tenses, comma usage, sentence structure, and parallel structures.

Know Which Grammar Rules are Most Commonly Tested

As you take time to review the basics, you may strategize by weighing your time based on the most commonly tested rules in the Writing section. You should know that punctuation and sentence function questions are very common, though you will also see a decent amount of questions about concision, transitions, and sentence structures.

Know the Format of Questions and Passages

Understanding the format of the Writing section can benefit your time management. You should know that the test questions and passages are organized side by side, so you can easily maneuver back and forth between reading the passages and answering the questions. Sentences are underlined and tagged with a number to signal their correlating questions. If you get to a sentence or a passage that is underlined and tagged with a number, finish reading the sentence or passage first, then answer the indicated question.

Know Your Weak Points

You may choose to strategize by spending more time on your weaknesses. Take a practice exam, and collect data about your performance throughout the Writing section. This can help nail down the question types you are struggling to revise, edit, and correct. Focusing on the areas you can improve the most is an efficient way to boost your score.

Understand Why You Are Making Mistakes

As you review questions you have answered incorrectly, take time to understand your errors. This is the best way to improve your performance. Understanding why you answered a question wrong can help you as you face similar questions in the future.

Here are some strategies to keep in mind on your official SAT test day.

Process of Elimination

It is easy to select answers based on what sounds right to you, but to perform with the highest accuracy possible, consider eliminating answer choices by investigating what is wrong with them. Strategize by finding concrete errors in the other options. As you screen each answer choice, you are looking for evidence and utilizing grammar rules to select your answer. 

The “No Change” Choice Is the Correct Option 20% of the Time

As you consider ways to improve your scores, note how often you select “No change” as the correct answer. The “No change” choice will sometimes trick students who do not have an understanding of proper grammar. If you catch yourself choosing “No change” often, consider using the process of elimination to be sure that all of the other options are incorrect.

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