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The Writing Section – basics



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The ‘Writing Section‘ is the newest section of the SAT.  It is still seen as the odd man out in terms of being taken seriously.  It used to be the old SAT II Writing exam – and is now incorporated as the third part of a now 2400 point exam.  This has made the exam longer, less reliable, and more difficult to prepare for.  Some schools don’t put much stock in the Writing Section, and some ignore it completely.  There are 4 parts:

  • The Essay
  • Sentence Error Identification
  • Sentence Improvement
  • Paragraph Improvement

The essay is 200 of the 800 points of the exam, and is a harebrained 25 minutes.  (see why it’s difficult to take it seriously?)  The sentence error ID and the sentence / paragraph improvement are grammar, usage, and writing checks on the test taker.  There aren’t any solid methods per se to use for these particular parts of the test.  Grammar review helps to a large degree for the error ID – exposure to concise writing helps for the other parts.

As with the other parts of the exam, doing practice exams and repeatedly going over sample problems is helpful.  To obliterate the exam and train your mind / raise your literacy level your reading must be tailored accordingly.  Constant exposure to skilled writing will make the exam much less intimidating.  Make sure the reading you do is difficult – measuring the Lexile Score is a useful tool.  Try it out – it’s easy on this site, you can type in the title of your selection and measure it against others.


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