The SAT Writing can be the most daunting section for manystudents. It seems at first glance to test many obscure and technical principles of grammar that many students are exposed to rarely, if ever. The good news, however, is that this section of the test is extremely predictable. The section tests the same 10 or so rules over and over again. By exposing yourself to these rules and learning to apply them, the 


SAT Writing becomes much more manageable. Many students discover that rules that seem foreign and difficult at first can be grasped with a little practice and many find that their score on this section can increase dramatically.

Here are a few of the basic ideas tested by this section:

Shorter is Better

 This is perhaps the most fundamental principle on the SAT Writing. If a choice is concise and clear and does not have any grammatical errors, it is most likely correct. Very often, the difference between the best choice and the second best choice is that the correct answer will say the same thing in fewer words.

The “Comma” Rule

This concept is tested frequently and, though it sounds complicated, it is fairly easy to apply. The rule is: When you have a clause before a comma, the subject of that clause must be the first thing after the comma. An example:

Having played soccer for 10 years, Josh became the best player on the team.

Notice that the subject of the clause before the comma is “Josh,” (He is the one who has played soccer for 10 years, so his name must appear right after the comma. The SAT will test this concept by including a choice such as:

Having played soccer for 10 years, the coach felt that Josh was the best player on the team.

Notice that Josh is still the subject of the clause before the comma, but now “the coach” appears right after the comma.

Photo by Mark Ramsay.