Writing Multiple-Choice Questions
What Multiple-Choice Writing Actually Tests
The Writing section tests your ability to recognize and correct poorly written sentences, paragraphs, and passages. The Writing section does not test your knowledge of grammatical terminology. However, it does test your ability to recognize and fix incorrect use of grammar. In addition, the Writing section tests certain features of good writing such as the proper use of particular idiomatic expressions and voice. (Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with these terms—you will be by the end of this book.) In other words, the Writing section tests not only grammar but also style and word choice.
While anything tested in Sentence Error ID and Sentence Improvement is fair game in Paragraph Improvement, Paragraph Improvement also tests features of good writing beyond proper sentence construction. Paragraph Improvement primarily tests your ability to make an essay clearer and more concise.
The good news is that the Writing section tests a limited number of grammatical and stylistic concepts. How can we be so sure given that the Writing section is brand-new? These Writing section items have been part of the PSAT and SAT II Writing for a long time. Additionally, The College Board has never made a secret of exactly what skills these items (or any SAT items) test.
If you understand what the SAT likes to test, you’ll have a much better chance of recognizing the errors. The SAT Writing section will test the following broad concepts:
  • Verb Tense
  • Subject/Verb Agreement
  • Noun/Number Agreement
  • Pronoun/Number Agreement
  • Pronoun Case
  • Ambiguous and Vague Pronouns
  • Modifiers and Modification
  • Clause Organization
  • Comparisons and Parallelism
  • Idioms and Word Choice
  • Active Voice and Passive Voice
  • Clear and Concise Writing
Don’t worry if you don’t recognize some (or any) of these terms. That’s why you’re reading this book!
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