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Top 10 SAT Writing Tips

1. Spot errors by listening for them.

In the error identification section, your goal is to identify grammatical or structural errors in a given sentence. The upside: you don’t need to know how to correct these errors. All you’re required to do is recognize when an underlined portion is wrong, or when there are no errors. Pronounce the sentence in your head and listen for anything that sounds off. If it sounds off, it probably is.

2. Remember that this is a test of written English.

Though tip #1 generally holds true, there are things we can get away with in spoken English that are not appropriate for written English. Some questions will spell out a common mispronunciation Рsuch as “could of” in place of “could have” Рthat might sound right, but isn’t correct in writing.

3. Watch out for “I” versus “me”.

People often confuse the two, or assume that using “I” is always correct. Not so. Here is a tip for figuring out which one to use: take out the other person or people, and see how you’d write the sentence if “you” were the only person. For example, if the sentence is, “My parents lent Sarah and I their station wagon,” take out “Sarah” and see how you’d rewrite the sentence if you were the only borrower of the station wagon. You will realize that “I” sounds wrong – that the correct phrasing should be “Sarah and me”

4. Check for subject/verb agreement.

Ask yourself whether the subject is singular or plural, and whether the correlating verb is conjugated accordingly.

5. Check for verb tense agreement.

Ask yourself, “When did the event described take place?” in order to check that the verb is in the proper tense. If one event in the past happens before another event in the past, the earlier event will require a past participle such as “had talked” or “had eaten.”

6. Be able to recognize sentences that are too “wordy” expressing an idea in too many words.

One example of wordiness on the SAT may be an adjective that is unnecessarily modified, such as “completely silent” or “very unique.” The words “completely” and “very” are not needed here: you are either silent or not silent; you are either unique or not unique.

7. Keep in mind that the essay portion of the SAT may be compared to your admissions essay.

Admissions officers may compare the two in order to verify that your style and writing level are similar for both essays. In some cases, a good SAT essay may give your application the edge you need to take you from borderline to admitted.

8. On the essay portion of the SAT, aim for clarity and good organization.

Apply all the rules for essay-writing you’ve learned in school. Organization and paragraph-parsing are key. It doesn’t matter what you know in a certain subject area; it matters how well you are able to express your opinion or to relate an experience relevant to the given prompt.

9. Proofread your SAT essay for grammatical errors.

Be as vigilant about checking your own writing for errors as you are on the error-ID portion of the exam. Small errors can add up, lowering your score.

10. Give your SAT essay a title.

It never hurts to title an essay. A title can intrigue your reader and summarize the main theme, giving your essay a feeling of completeness.


Our SAT tutoring and SAT preparation can help you get into top colleges and improve your scores.

Top Test Prep can help you with your SAT writing. Give Top Test Prep a call at (800) 501-7737.

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