In this lesson, our professor Vincent Selhorst-Jones gives an introduction on multiple choice grammar. He discusses formal, written English, omitting middle choices, eliminating wrong choices, pacing and skipping, errors, improving sentences, identifying sentence errors and paragraphs.
To do well on the Multiple-Choice Grammar portion of the Writing section, you need to have a strong grasp of English grammar. Make sure to check out the next lesson, "Grammar Mistake Petting Zoo", to familiarize yourself with the most common types of mistakes. If you want any more help with grammar, check out the SAT Writing-specific lessons.
The Writing section tests you on formal, written English. The correct answers are based on "proper" grammar and using the language correctly. This means you need to avoid slang, colloquialisms, and other such things.
As you progress in each subsection, the difficulty increases. That means you need to expect the later, harder questions. In those questions, just because a phrase sounds unusual does not automatically mean it is incorrect. Sometimes formal English can sound weird and foreign but still be correct. On the hard questions, try to rely on your knowledge of proper grammar. Identify the mistake instead of just relying on instinct.
Try to read aloud when practicing the Writing section. Sometimes it's easier to hear a mistake than to see one.
A lot of grammar mistakes can be discovered if you omit the middle clause. In a complex sentence, middle clauses can obscure an otherwise simple mistake. Try reading the sentence with only the necessary clauses and see if it sounds wrong that way.
You have to get through a lot of questions very quickly in Multiple-Choice Grammar: you can't spend too much time on any one question. If a question is really difficult, skip it, then come back to it at the end if you have extra time.
Sometimes No Error shows up, so don't freak out if nothing seems wrong. While most sentences will have errors, about 20% overall will already be correct.
On Improving Sentences questions, you want to identify the error, then choose whatever phrase fixes the error best. If there's no error, choice (A) is always the sentence as it is (effectively No Error). If you know something's wrong but just can't figure out, choose the shortest choice: it's very often correct.
On Identifying Sentence Errors, you want to identify the error, then mark its location with your choice. If there's no error, choice (E) gives No Error [Notice that's different than Improving Sentences!]. If you can't find the answer at first, read each underlined portion very carefully. If something seems wrong, it probably is.
On Improving Paragraphs, you have to read a short essay with flaws, then fix errors and analyze its grammar. Start off by reading the essay: it will help to understand what the author is talking about. Once you've read it, start the questions and then refer back to the text as necessary.
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.
Educator.com recommends The Official SAT Study Guide published by The College Board, the administrators of the actual SAT test. In it, you will find additional practice questions and a review of all subjects, along with 10 official SAT practice tests. Our instructors work through several of the practice tests in real time, going through their thought processes and test-taking tips.
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