Subject-Pronoun Agreement

When you examine a sentence in the Writing Section, you should make sure that the sentence substitutes the correct pronoun for the subject of the sentence.  The most popular way for the SAT to test this concept is by substituting a plural pronoun for a singular subject.  For example,
Ryan believes that a musician must practice their instrument for several hours each day in order to master the most difficult techniques.

In this sentence, the pronoun “their” refers to “a musician”.  This is the error in the sentence because “a musician” is singular but “”their” is plural.  

sat writing

Proper Verb Tense

One of the most fundamental rules that the Writing Section tests is Proper Verb Tense.  In fact, one of the first things you should try to determine about a sentence is what tense it is in.  If the sentence calls for a past tense verb, make sure that it has one.  It is a simple rule, but careless errors are common when this rule is tested.  For example,

During our visit to Paris last summer, Rachel has taken many photos of the Eiffel Tower.

In the sentence above, the visit took place during a period of time that is now over, so the sentence calls for the past tense verb “took.”  The clause after the comma should read, “Rachel took many photos of the Eiffel Tower.”  The SAT loves to substitute examples of the present perfect tense- “has taken,” “has played,” “has studied”- when a simple past tense verb would be correct.  The verb form “has + past tense verb” (“has played”) is correct when something began in the past and continues today.  For example:

John has played basketball since he was 10 years old.

Photo by madamepsychosis.