College PrepSATSAT Writing

Tips for Organization Questions on SAT® Writing

There are two types of organization questions on the SATⓇ Writing test: improve the order of the sentences or improve the order of the paragraphs. You will find 2 to 3 of these types of questions on each Writing test. Here are some examples to help recognize them, followed by strategies for each type. The sentences or paragraphs in question will be numbered in the passage so you can quickly identify the places in the text where you will be asked to rearrange and reorganize. The numbers are bracketed so that you can look back on them easily.

Improving the Order of the Sentences

Example #1: To make this paragraph most logical, sentence 5 should be placed…
Example #2: The author wants to conclude with a sentence that _____. Which choice would best accomplish this goal?

Strategies for Improving the Order of the Sentences:

1. Take inventory of out what you have.

The question may provide you with a lot of information, including where to focus and options for improvement. You should know exactly what the question asks of you and where to look in the text to select your answer. Once you find the numbered sentence that may need organizational help, start to consider the best adjustments to improve its position in the text. The next step is to evaluate all of the answer choices. If you read one choice that sounds correct, be sure to check that there isn’t another option that fits better. You may even consider plugging each answer choice into the paragraph to test its effectiveness. 

2. Eliminate choices that fail to benefit the structure.

As you evaluate each answer choice, it is important to eliminate the choices that don’t logically fit into the structure of the paragraph or passage. If an option is not cohesive with the preceding and following sentence topics, then plugging it into the text is illogical. Once you have eliminated any choices, plug in the remaining options to find the most logical sentence order. Remind yourself what the question is asking, and use the remaining choices to make a decision.

Improve the Order of the Paragraphs

Example: To make the passage most logical, paragraph 4 should be placed…

Strategies for Improving the Order of the Paragraphs:

1. Study the paragraph in question and focus on logical progressions.

You will want to find out exactly what the question is asking in the paragraph questions as well. Some of these questions are relatively straightforward, but it is easy to get tripped up on details. Be sure that you are looking at the correct paragraph. You also should be sure that you note any goals or motivations an author may have that would affect the organization of ideas. The next step is to make a note of the main idea of the paragraph in question. To effectively reorganize a passage, the main ideas need to be ordered logically. If you are pressed for time, rereading the entire paragraph may be a waste. Instead, you may consider reading the first and last sentences of the paragraph to decipher its main idea.

2. Select your answer and check your work.

Next, look over the answer choices carefully. When making decisions about elimination, consider how the paragraphs transition from one topic to another. The topics or ideas in your selection should make sense with their preceding and following paragraphs. Look for logical connections, and if a choice does not fit into the text, eliminate it from your options.

Check your work by plugging the paragraph into the part of the text in question. You do not need to reread the entire text to check for effectiveness, but it is a good idea to skim the text for logical transitions and connections with your selection in place. Pay attention to sentences and paragraphs that precede and follow the moments in question.

Another Tip: Pay Attention to Flaws in Chronology

Looking at the sequence of events is an excellent way to pinpoint illogical or incoherent organizations. Adjusting the order of sentences within a paragraph, or paragraphs within a text, can be simplified by paying attention to flaws in the chronology.

You should consider implementing these strategies while practicing for the Writing test’s organization questions. You can test them using UWorld’s SAT Prep course, with thousands of practice problems and detailed explanations to guide your studies. You should take advantage of the performance tools to improve your performance with the Writing test. If your score report shows room for improvement with organization questions, then these strategies and tips are a great place to start!