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TPREP101: SAT Prep

Unit 8: Writing   The writing section of the SAT consists of multiple choice questions where you are required to find errors or improvements that can be made to written passages.  Mastering English grammar is a process that can require many years of practice, but this unit will cover some grammatical rules that the SAT tends to test most often.  Becoming familiar with and mastering these few rules will improve your writing score, even if your grammar is not perfect.  The Writing section of the SAT also includes an essay prompt.  This unit also covers important rules for structuring and writing an essay for the SAT that will score well.

Unit 8 Time Advisory
This unit should take approximately 8.25 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 8.1: 0.25 hours

☐    Subunit 8.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 8.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 8.4: 0.5 hours

☐    Subunit 8.5: 0.75 hours

☐    Subunit 8.6: 1.75 hours

☐    Subunit 8.7: 2 hours

Unit8 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Explain rules and strategies for answering questions in the writing section of the SAT. - Identify common grammatical errors at the sentence level. - Identify common methods to improve sentences and paragraphs. - Structure and write an essay in response to a prompt within 25 minutes.

8.1 The Writing Section   - Reading: College Board’s “Writing Section” Link: College Board’s “Writing Section” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this webpage,
which gives a brief technical breakdown of the writing section and
the numbers and types of questions you will encounter.  Use this
information to become more comfortable and confident with the test
format.  

 Keep in mind that in the writing section, questions are given in
order of difficulty except for paragraph improvement questions,
which follow the order of the passage.  

 Completing this reading should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

8.2 Sentence Errors   - Reading: Silver Lake Regional High School: “Grammar Rules Frequently Tested on the SAT” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

[Submit Materials](/contribute/)
  • Reading: Towson University: Margaret L. Benner’s “Elements of Sentence Structure” Link: Towson University: Margaret L. Benner’s “Elements of Sentence Structure” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this page for a more in-depth review of sentence structure.  Pay particular attention to the sections titled “Clauses” and “Avoiding Comma Splices and Fused Sentences.”

    Reading this webpage should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Towson University: Margaret L. Benner’s “Usage - Subject-Verb Agreement” and “Usage - Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement” Link: Towson University: Margaret L. Benner’s “Usage - Subject-Verb Agreement” (HTML) and “Usage - Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the links above and read these pages for more in-depth review of agreement.  Agreement errors often appear in the Sentence Error questions of the SAT, so make sure you feel very comfortable with this material before moving on.  You can also try completing related exercises by clicking the “Exercises” link at the top of the page.

    Studying these webpages should take approximately 1 hour.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.3 Improving Sentences   *These questions tend to focus on eliminating redundancy or wordiness and misplaced or dangling modifiers from a sentence.

To eliminate redundancy, remove unnecessary words from sentences.  You do not need two or more words saying the same thing (e.g. true fact, large in size, new innovations, due to the fact that, various different, important essentials, the future to come, etc.).  You can also eliminate wordiness by using the active voice rather than the passive voice.  This means placing the subject before the verb (or the individual completing the action before the action).  For example, “He took the SAT” is active voice, while “The SAT was taken by him” is passive voice.

To eliminate misplaced or dangling modifiers, pay close attention to the structure of the sentence.  Make sure the subject being modified (described) actually appears within the sentence and that adjectives are as close as possible to the subjects being described.*

  • Reading: Towson University: Margaret L. Benner’s “Usage - Modifier Problems” Link: Towson University: Margaret L. Benner’s “Usage - Modifier Problems” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this page for a more in-depth explanation of misplaced and dangling modifier errors, with examples.  You can also try completing related exercises by clicking the “Exercises” link at the top of the page.

    Reading this webpage should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Towson University: Margaret L. Benner’s “Active/Passive Voice” Link: Towson University: Margaret L. Benner’s “Active/Passive Voice” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this page for a more in-depth explanation of active and passive voice, with examples.  You can also try completing related exercises by clicking the “Exercises” link at the top of the page.

    Reading this webpage should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.4 Improving Paragraphs   *These questions tend to focus on adding, combining, or moving sentences (and sometimes paragraphs) within a reading passage.  Keep in mind the grammatical rules you learned in the previous two subunits as they will also be applicable here.

To combine sentences, first make sure the sentences are addressing the same idea or concept (otherwise they should not be combined).  Then, reduce wordiness by eliminating any redundancy between the sentences; that is, use only the words that are necessary to get the idea of the sentence across.

To determine where a sentence or paragraph best fits into a passage, keep in mind the basic rules of main idea.  Each paragraph has its own main idea, located most often in the first sentence (or topic sentence), but sometimes in the last sentence, of the paragraph.  All sentences in the paragraph should contribute toward that same idea.  Sentences that contribute toward a different idea should be placed in a different paragraph.  Also, the sentences should be ordered so that the ‘argument’ or examples supporting the main idea flow coherently, with each sentence’s idea building upon the information of the previous sentence.  Likewise, each paragraph in the passage should contribute in a progressive fashion toward the main idea of the passage (usually found in the introductory paragraph).

Also, remember that the entire paragraph (and passage) should be in the same tense (past, present, or future), unless the author is explicitly referring to an event that occurred (or will occur) at a different time.*

  • Reading: College Board’s “Improving Paragraphs” Link: College Board’s “Improving Paragraphs” (HTML)

    Instructions: Try these PSAT practice questions to get a feel for the type of paragraph improvement questions you will encounter on the SAT.  Please click on the link above, and select the “Start” link below the text to see the first question.  After reading each question and deciding which answer you believe is correct, click the “View Answer” link in the bottom right hand corner of the page to see the correct answer and explanation.  Take notes on any mistakes that you make, and why your choice was incorrect, so you will remember not to make the same mistake in the future.

    Attempting these practice questions should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.5 Writing Practice Problems   - Assignment: cK-12: Jason Shah’s “SAT Prep - Writing Questions” and “SAT Prep - Writing Questions with Explanations” Link: cK-12: Jason Shah’s “SAT Prep - Writing Questions” (HTML) and “SAT Prep - Writing Questions with Explanations” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the first link above for “Writing
Questions” and complete questions 1-10 to apply your new knowledge
and to practice improving sentences and identifying errors for the
writing section of the SAT.  

 Once you have completed the questions, please click on the second
link above for “Writing Questions with Explanations” and review the
correct answers for questions 1-10.  For any questions you missed,
read and review the provided explanations until the correct answer
makes sense to you.  You may want to look back at the previous
sections in this unit for help.  Once you have studied the correct
answers, think about how you will approach similar problems in the
future and will avoid making similar mistakes.  

 Completing this assignment should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Assignment: cK-12: Jason Shah’s “SAT Prep II - Writing Questions” and “SAT Prep II - Writing Questions with Explanations” Link: cK-12: Jason Shah’s “SAT Prep II - Writing Questions” (HTML) and “SAT Prep II - Writing Questions with Explanations” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the first link above for “Writing Questions” and complete questions 1-10 to apply your new knowledge and to practice improving sentences and identifying errors for the writing section of the SAT.

    Once you have completed the questions, please click on the second link above for “Writing Questions with Explanations” and review the correct answers for questions 1-10.  For any questions you missed, read and review the provided explanations until the correct answer makes sense to you.  You may want to look back at the previous sections in this unit for help.  Once you have studied the correct answers, think about how you will approach similar problems in the future and will avoid making similar mistakes.

    Completing this assignment should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Assignment: cK-12: Jason Shah’s “SAT Prep III - Writing Questions” and “SAT Prep III - Writing Questions with Explanations” Link: cK-12: Jason Shah’s “SAT Prep III - Writing Questions” (HTML) and “SAT Prep III - Writing Questions with Explanations” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the first link above for “Writing Questions” and complete questions 1-10 to apply your new knowledge and to practice improving sentences and identifying errors for the writing section of the SAT.

    Once you have completed the questions, please click on the second link above for “Writing Questions with Explanations” and review the correct answers for questions 1-10.  For any questions you missed, read and review the provided explanations until the correct answer makes sense to you.  You may want to look back at the previous sections in this unit for help.  Once you have studied the correct answers, think about how you will approach similar problems in the future and will avoid making similar mistakes.

    Completing this assignment should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.6 The Essay   - Reading: College Board’s “The Essay - Strategies” Link: College Board’s “The Essay - Strategies” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and review this
webpage.  This page lists three basic but very important points for
developing a good essay for the SAT.  Write these down, keep them in
mind when you are writing, and refer back to them when you are
checking your practice essays.  

 Reading this webpage should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: ePrep’s “How to Score the SAT Essay: The SAT Essay Rubric” Link: ePrep’s “How to Score the SAT Essay: The SAT Essay Rubric” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and review the grading rubric presented on this webpage.  Your essay will be graded on 5 major bases: effectiveness of your argument, organization, word choice, sentence structure, and grammar.  Keep these in mind as you prepare and write your essays.

    Reading this rubric should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.6.1 Structure   - Reading: MajorTests.com: Helen Mathur’s “SAT Essay Formats” Link: MajorTests.com: Helen Mathur’s “SAT Essay Formats” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and review the
information on this webpage.  This page provides two basic outlines
you can use when creating your essay.  It often works well to take a
moment to create a simple basic outline for your essay before you
begin writing, even on test day.  You can choose one of the formats
to use for your essay, either based on your personal preference, or
based on the essay question you encounter, and the supporting
examples you have.  Practice using one or both of these formats
while writing your practice essays, and it will come as second
nature on test day.  

 Reading this webpage should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

8.6.2 Writing Prompts   - Assignment: SAT Writing Prompts: “Prompts 15 - 17” Link: SAT Writing Prompts: “Prompts 15 - 17” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and use two of these
three prompts from previous SATs to practice writing essays. 
Remember that you only get 25 minutes to brainstorm and write each
essay.  Grade your own essay (or ask someone else to) based on the
rubric introduced in subunit 8.6.  You may use other prompts on this
site as well; however, remember that you will not get to choose your
prompt on test day, so you should practice writing for whichever
prompt you are given.  

 Completing this assignment should take approximately 1 hour.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

8.7 Timed Practice for the Writing Section   - Assignment: College Board’s “SAT Preparation Booklet 2007-08” Link: College Board’s “SAT Preparation Booklet 2007-08” (PDF)

 Instructions: Since you have now finished your review of the
content for the writing section, use the writing sections (1, 3, and
10) of the practice test in subunit 3.4 for timed practice.  Take
note of the time limits indicated at the beginning of the section,
set a timer, and see how well you can do within that time.  Then
review your answers with the key on page 84.  Check your essay
against the rubric in subunit 8.6 (or ask someone else to, for a
more objective response).  
    
 For any questions you answered incorrectly, take a moment to look
back and try to understand how you were led astray.  Think about how
to avoid the same mistake in the future.  

 Completing this assignment should take approximately 2 hours.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.