We have broken down some key strategies to improve your score in the SAT® Writing Exam. Some of these strategies can be implemented into your preparation and studies. Other strategies can be perfected in your practice work and later utilized to improve your score on the official SAT exam.
Here is a breakdown of the details to focus on in your studies.
1) Hone Your Grammar Skills
Practice with grammar rules should guide your study plan. Here are the grammar rules that are tested in the Writing section of the SAT exam:
Wordiness and redundancy, word choice and diction, run-on sentences and fragments, pronoun case, pronoun agreement, subject-verb agreement, parallelism, idioms, faulty modifiers, faulty comparisons, relative pronouns, adjective and adverbs, and verb tense and verb form.
An understanding of these grammar rules is essential. Some grammar rules are more common than others, and the best way to understand them is through practice. You will need to be able to spot errors and correct them, and the best way to gain experience with this is through practice questions and practice exams.
You can strategize in your studies by focusing on the grammar rules where you have the weakest performance. You can gain information and data about your weak points through practice work.
You can further perfect your grammar skills using this tip: when selecting answers, be sure that you can explain why that answer is the most correct choice. You should be able to explain the grammar rule that is in question, and an excellent way to practice this is by pinpointing the grammar rule that led you to select your answer.
While studying, it is easy to fall into the habit of choosing the answer that sounds right. But, falling into this habit replaces an opportunity to practice applying a grammar rule. Be intentional in your practice work, and try to avoid shortcuts.
Remember, practice work is a form of studying, and any points you gain through luck or chance won’t help your skills.
2) Know What To Expect
The next step in your preparation for the Writing test is learning the format of each question type. While taking practice exams, it is important to pay attention to the specific question format that goes with each grammar rule.
You can build an outline to study the formats by labeling questions with the rule they are testing. When you are done with the practice exam, you can use the labeled question types and formats to review. This step can help you quickly recognize what rules to look for when you see a specific structure.
Using the question’s format to identify what is being tested is a strategy to save time. Get familiar with where the question type comes up as well. When labeling the question types in your practice exams, pay attention to whether the skill is tested in the sentence improvement section or the error identification section.
You will benefit by knowing which rules are tested in which subsection. Getting familiar with the subsections can also help you save time and narrow down which rule is being tested.
Practice as much as you can. This strategy is crucial. You want to gain experience with practice questions that are as close to the official test questions as possible. Knowing the grammar rules is one thing, but understanding how the test assesses your skills with them is another.
UWorld’s SAT Prep Course offers thousands of realistic test questions, with detailed explanations to guide a deeper understanding of what is being asked and why the question’s correct answer is the best choice.
You can also learn a lot from the data provided in your results from practice exams. If you perform significantly higher on relative pronoun questions and significantly lower on idiom questions, use that information to shape a study plan around your weak points.
One more tip for practice work: create a realistic testing environment. Following test-day rules, time constraints, and permissible tools will be essential to gain stamina and confidence for the official SAT exam.
The SAT test is long, and fatigue is common. Allowing testing fatigue to occur will slow you down or cause you to make silly mistakes. As you take practice exams, only take breaks when they are allowed on the official exam.
You should have a clear understanding of your time management skills after this process. It is important to know if you are rushing or running out of time.
4) Create Goals
It is a good idea to create goals for each section of the SAT exam. Remember that your goal scores do not need to be equal for each section. You can weigh your goals for each section differently based on your strengths.
If you struggle with the Reading section of the SAT exam but find that your Math section results are consistently high, then you should expect that your goal scores for the two sections will vary.
Setting goals that are logical to your strengths and weaknesses will help establish what you need to study and how much room for error you have in each section. If you establish that most of your composite score is to come from one section of the SAT test, then time spent trying to perfect another section may not be worth it (unless you are aiming for a perfect SAT score).
Creating goals for each section will shape your study plan.
One More Tip For Test Day
Implement this tip into your practice work, and keep it in mind if you are in a bind on test-day.
Scan for Common Errors
You should know the most common errors in the Writing section. Applying this basic knowledge is a small strategy for determining the mistakes to look for on test day. Subject-verb agreement, run-on sentences, sentence fragments, wordiness, and pronoun agreement are the most common errors that you will need to identify and/or improve in the Writing Section.
Remember, the most concise answer is often the correct one. You can review the rules for these common errors in the links listed throughout this article. Use this last strategy on the official exam to save time.
You can practice these strategies and tips for the Writing test by using UWorld’s SAT Prep course. Our practice exams, detailed question explanations, and performance tracking tools will provide you with valuable test day experience.
You can also find out more about your weak points through these resources and find specific ways to learn from your mistakes. Our test-taking strategies and study materials for the Writing section are sure to boost your scores!