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The SAT – The Writing Sections

Started by sukishan, Sep 07, 2009, 03:39 PM

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The Writing Sections
The writing portion of the test involves one twenty-five minute essay, one twenty-five minute multiple choice section, and one ten-minute multiple choice question. The essay asks students to express an opinion by composing a response to a prompt, such as "Does financial wealth guarantee happiness?" The essay is judged on mastery of the English language and the ability to explain and support a point of view.

The two writing multiple choice sections make up a total of 49 questions, presented in three different formats. In one type of question students must simply determine if there is a grammatical error in a sentence, and if so, identify where in the sentence the error occurs. These questions are appropriately called "Identifying Sentence Errors." For "Improving Sentences," the test taker is given a sentence in which a portion of the sentence is underlined. Again, it must be determined if the underlined portion contains an error, but this time the student must select the answer choice that best corrects the underlined portion. The final format, called "Improving Paragraphs," requires students to read a short essay (14 to 18 sentences) in rough draft form. The essay is followed by six questions which ask the student to choose the best corrections for specific lines of the essay. Most students report that these six questions are the easiest of the grammar questions.

The writing portion of the SAT is easily taught in the months leading up to the test. In fact, the highest score increases from test to test are often found in the writing sections. Although the essay requires higher-level thinking, the grammar multiple choice questions use little reasoning ability, and instead test a student's ability to recognize and correct approximately twenty characteristic usage and construction errors. Examples of typical errors include subject and verb agreement, pronoun choice, modifier placement, and correct idiom. A quality test preparation company will have categorized these errors in their courses and books so that they are easily learned by the student.
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