College PrepSAT

What Is Tested on the SAT® Writing Section?

The Writing and Language section is designed to test your editing skills by asking you to revise, edit, or correct sentences and passages.

The SAT Writing Section consists of 44 multiple-choice questions to be answered in 35 minutes. Each of the questions is based on passages. You will be asked to read four passages and decide if they are grammatically correct or errored.

If the passage is flawed, you will have to select the corrected version from the multiple-choice options. Some questions will ask you to look closely at specific sentences and others will ask you to evaluate the entire passage. Each passage is followed by 11 questions.

You will find that some passages are accompanied by graphics. The questions that follow these passages will ask you to find errors in an interpretation of the information provided in both the passage and the graphic. You may also be asked to select an option that improves an argument about the data.

The College Board® reports that the Writing Section of the SAT will specifically test your skills in: 

  • Command of Evidence
    • There will be 18 Command of Evidence questions in total. The Writing section will have 8 questions, and the Reading section will have 10 questions from this subscore.
    • These questions may ask you to strengthen an argument or improve the information of the passage by adding valuable points.
    • This will judge your skills on the use of evidence to defend and support your arguments.

Tip: Focus on the details, how the author is supporting his or her interpretation in the passage. How does he or she establish information and how meaningful that information is to the passage?

  • Words in Context
    • There will be 18 Words in Context questions in total. The Writing section will have 8 questions, and the Reading section will have 10 questions from this subscore.
    • These questions may ask you to improve the word choice in a passage.

Tip: Focus on words that can make information more precise in order to improve the syntax, tone, and style of the sentence.

  • Expression of Ideas
    • Expression of Ideas questions asks you to make minor changes so as to improve the author’s message.
    • These questions ask about the impact of information.

Tip: Focus on the word usage or possible changes in structure that can improve the ideas a passage conveys.

Half of the questions in the Writing Section will cover the three skills previously mentioned. The other half of the questions will cover Standard English Conventions.

  • According to the College Board, you will be asked to find flaws in verb tense, parallel structures, comma use, and subject-verb agreement.
  • These questions will test your knowledge of punctuation and sentence structures. 

The Writing Section of the SAT targets your ability to find errors or weaknesses and fix them.

Your goal in this section is to display an understanding of standard English grammatical conventions, as well as your ability to improve the quality of writing for a given passage. These are skills you should have lots of practice in from editing and revising your essays and writings for school. To get some practice answering questions from the Writing Section of the SAT, check out UWorld’s SAT Prep courses.