It shocks me whenever I see a score of less than 300 in SAT Writing and Language (W&L). If one keeps in mind 3 simple rules, I can guarantee one will score at least 360. In this article, while we will not go into reasons why students do badly in W&L, we will give you a simple formula to reach 360 and above. Many Uwezo students have scored 380 and a full score of 400 is also not an uncommon occurrence.
Rule 1: Know your grammar rules (SAT uses only a few). Here, when I say “grammar rules”, I’m not only alluding to punctuation, tenses, etc., but also sentence structure. A very popular question in SAT W&L is about combining sentences.
If you really know your stuff as stated in Rule 1, you’re assured of at least 300, because 75% of the questions fall in this category. Remember, you’ve been learning grammar since grade 3, so there is no reason why you cannot reinforce the rules and, of course, practice. This rule assures that you answer 33 of the 44 correctly. Let’s move on to Rule 2.
Rule 2: Read each paragraph completely first, then answer the questions pertaining to that paragraph. Why? By doing so, you’re also comprehending the paragraph, which is required to answer the other type of questions – rhetoric – which ask about adding or deleting a sentence at the end of a paragraph, for instance. If you don’t understand the paragraph, you will not be able to answer these questions correctly. As you read and understand each paragraph, remember you’re also getting a good idea of the overall passage, which will help you answer questions like reordering paragraphs in a passage or inserting a specific sentence in the middle of a passage.
Of the 25% questions that do not comply with Rule 1, many are simple ones, which one should have no problem with by following Rule 2. Easiest are the ones that say, “Author wants to add a sentence at the end of a paragraph”, or “Author wants to delete a sentence”. Then, other easy ones are reading tables or graphs.
So, what’s left? There are some questions, which can confuse some, not all, students and due to lack of time, might not be answered correctly. Some examples are:
A) To make this paragraph most logical, sentence 4 should be placed where…
B) The author would like to reorder the paragraphs…
C) The best place to insert the sentence in the passage is…
Fortunately, there are only about 3-4 question in the above category, and even if you miss them all, you’re still gonna score 40 of the 44 correctly. This should give you a score of 360 or so.
Rule 3: It’s is a little-known fact that most of the answers to questions falling under Rule 1 are already in the passage. Think about it: when they create a passage, the mistakes are only in those parts that have a related question. Other parts of the passage are written in proper, correct English. So, by paying attention while reading each paragraph, you’re also revising the grammar rules. You might want to re-read this rule!