More Tips from Neil Chyten’s Book: “Breaking the Code: Insider Secrets of the SAT”​ SAT Writing and Language

Introduction to SAT Writing & Language

The SAT Writing and Language Test is the second section of the SAT. It is a 35-minute test of grammar containing four passages of 400-500 words each. It has a total of 44 questions divided equally among the four passages, 11 questions per passage. On average, you have 48 seconds to answer each question, which may seem like a short period of time, but of all the SAT test sections, this one is traditionally the easiest to finish within the time allotted. That is primarily due to the fact that the answers are very short, requiring very little reading, and there is no need to search for the location of solutions within the passage, since the grammar content in question is clearly marked within the passage. Despite the fact that SAT Writing and Language has several subscores measuring command of evidence, and analysis in science and social studies, this is really a grammar quiz testing your understanding of English conventions and author’s expression of ideas.

Success on SAT Writing and Language starts with a slight shift of mindset after having just completed the SAT Reading section. Even though it contains reading passages, the Writing & Language Test is not concerned with meaning or comprehension; instead, it requires you to play the role of editor. As such, you must identify and fix errors or decide on whether or not to make suggested changes, such as omitting or inserting sentences. In reality, this task is easier than that of an editor, because the correct answer is always given among the answer choices. And like an editor, you do not have to know why something is wrong—just that it is wrong. Just as an editor does not have to identify the grammatical reason or rule that makes something wrong, neither do you. So, while some knowledge of grammar is helpful (and this book provides details on, and examples of, every single issue that will be on your test), the ability to recognize correct and incorrect grammar is the most important skill you need for success.

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