New SAT Writing & Language Test Strategies

SAT Instructor Terri of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you ways to tackle questions found on the New SAT writing and language test section.

The New SAT Writing and Language Test will have 44 multiple choice questions with emphasis on:
1. Command of evidence
2. Relevant words in context
3. Informational graphics


Hi. I’m Terri with Prepped and Polished in South Natick, Massachusetts. I’m glad you could join me today. Today, our focus is on how to tackle the evidence-based writing and language test on the new SAT which will be rolled out in 2016. It’s not too early to start boosting the skills that will be tested. First, let me introduce you to the basics.

The evidence-based writing and language test on the new SAT has 44 multiple-choice questions with emphasis on command of evidence, relevant words in context, and informational graphics. The basic aim of the writing and language test is to determine if students can demonstrate college and career readiness and proficiency in revising and editing extended prose passages sometimes associated with one or more informational graphics across a range of content areas including history, social studies, humanities, science, careers, for expression of ideas and for conformity to important conventions of standard written English grammar usage and punctuation. That’s the testing in a nutshell.

Now, I’m going to show you how to tackle a few passage-based sample questions. A typical question on the new SAT is a relevant word in context question. Let’s take a look. The content of this question is effective language use and precision, which means using language effectively to convey meaning clearly and precisely. The focus is to determine the most contextually appropriate word. In other words, which word makes the most sense from a passage about a painter? Here’s the passage.

“As Kingman developed as a painter, his works were often compared to paintings by Chinese landscape artists dating back to CE 960, a time when a strong tradition of landscape painting emerged in Chinese art. Kingman, however, vacated from that tradition in a number of ways, most notably in that he chose to focus not on natural landscapes such as mountains and rivers but on cities.” And your task is to determine if vacated is the best word choice.

So if you think that it is, Kingman, however, vacated from that tradition in a number of ways, you’d pick A, no change, would be the word vacated. B, Kingman, however, evacuated from that tradition in a number of ways. C, Kingman, however, departed from that tradition in a number of ways. And D, Kingman, however, retired from that tradition in a number of ways. Which do you think is the best word choice?

Well, it’s C, departed. Departed is the most contextually appropriate word to indicate that Kingman deviated from the tradition in a number of ways, the tradition of Chinese landscape painting. The other words, vacated, evacuated, and retired all convey a sense of leaving, but they’re awkward and unconventional to describe a person vacating, evacuating, or retiring from a tradition in a number of ways. So C would clearly be the best answer.

Well, I hope you noticed that the word choices are not obscure. They’re words that you could encounter in school and that’s one of the nice features of the new SAT. Here’s a tip for you. The best way to gain facility with language in general and to use language effectively in particular contexts to have precision and clarity of meaning is to read as much as possible across a broad range of content areas and to revise and edit your own writing to use just the right word to convey your intended meaning.

Another typical question on the new SAT involves Standard English conventions. Let’s take a look. The content of this question involves conventions of usage, particularly pronoun antecedent agreement and subject verb agreement. The focus is to maintain grammatical agreement between pronoun and antecedent and between subject and verb. Let’s take a look.

“Stoplight timing is coordinated to alleviate rush-hour traffic jams in a congested downtown area. When any one of these changes occur, it is likely the result of careful analysis conducted by transportation planners.” And your task is to determine if the underlined portion maintains agreement. So let’s see. “It” is a pronoun and it’s singular, and its antecedent is “any one.” Let’s underline that. So that seems fine. We can get rid of the choices that have they. However, any one is also a subject, a singular subject, and the verb occur is in a plural form here. A singular verb ends in an S.

So choice D, when any one of these changes occurs, it is…is the correct answer. It maintains agreement between the pronoun and the antecedent and the subject and verb, occurs. So there you have it. A tip for tackling this type of question is to review conventions of grammar and usage including subject-verb agreement and pronoun-antecedent agreement. Here’s a bonus tip for you. Many questions on the new SAT assess command of evidence. Some questions measure a student’s ability to revise a text, to improve its development of information and ideas. Other questions ask a student to draw connections between text and graphics, for example, to correct a passage’s inaccurate interpretation of data presented in a table.

So brush up on these areas. You know, if you liked this video, give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel. If you have any questions or you want more in-depth assistance either online or in person, simply email and we’ll be glad to help you. Good luck.

What do you think of these new SAT sections? Do you think the New SAT Writing and Language Test will be harder or easier than the current reading and writing SAT sections ?

Post your tips/comments below.

SAT Prep

Subscribe to our Blog Feed

Become a Fan on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter