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Introduction to the Writing Section

  • Before we talk too deeply about the Writing section, it should be pointed out that it might be the least important section. It still matters, but many colleges view Critical Reading and Math as being much more important. In general, I would say that unless your Writing score is 80 points (or more) below both your Critical Reading and Math scores, focus on the other two sections first.
  • That said, there are some situations where you should care about it just as much:
    • The schools you are most interested in have a very high number of applicants, such as 10,000-20,000 or more. For example, all of the University of California schools would fall in this category.
    • You are not a native English speaker.
  • The Writing section is made up of two entirely different segments: the Essay and the Multiple-Choice Grammar questions.
  • For the Essay, you will be given a prompt and told to write a one- or two-page essay in 25 minutes. It is not scored like the rest of the SAT: it is given a score from 2-12, which is then factored into your overall Writing score.
  • The Multiple-Choice Grammar questions are broken into three different subsections:
    • Improving Sentences: A sentence is given with a portion of it underlined. There are various choices to replace the underlined portion, and you must select whichever best improves the grammar and impact of the sentence.
    • Identifying Sentence Errors: A sentence is given with various portions underlined. You must select which portion (if any) has a grammar mistake.
    • Improving Paragraphs: A couple short paragraphs are given, followed by questions about improving and analyzing the writing/grammar of the passage.
  • A good way to improve your score on the Writing section is to regularly read. Doing so will help you recognize errors, improve your speed, and increase your skill as a writer.

Introduction to the Writing Section

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Legal Disclaimer 0:12
  • Welcome to Writing 0:21
  • How Important Is the Writing Section? 0:55
    • It's Important, But It's the Least Important of the Three Sections
    • Colleges View Score
    • The Writing Section Matters
    • If Your Score is 80+ Points More Than the Other Sections, Focus on Writing
    • Why Colleges Care So Little About the Writing Section
    • A Caveat
    • You're Applying to a School with a High Number of Applicants
    • You're Not a Native English Speaker
  • How is The Writing Section Set Up? 15:26
    • Three Different Writing Sections
    • Two Distinct Types That the Writing Section Comes In
  • The Essay 16:38
    • How It's Scored
  • The Grammar Subsection 17:35
    • Improving Sentences
    • Identifying Sentence Errors
    • Improving Paragraphs
  • Composition of the Writing Section 19:42
    • Breakdown of the 49 Questions
    • The Order
  • Scoring the Writing Section 21:16
    • Have Someone Else Look at the Scoring Guidelines and Then Score Your Essay
  • Read 25:03