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General Format of SAT II Writing
Please Note:
The last administration of the SAT II Writing was on 1/22/05. Beginning 3/12/05, parts of the SAT II Writing test will be included in the New SAT. You should be studying the New SAT book. Go there!
General Format of SAT II Writing
The SAT II Writing Test is a one-hour-long test composed of one essay and 60 -multiple-choice questions. The multiple-choice questions come in three types: 30 Identifying Sentence Error questions, 18 Improving Sentences questions, and 12 Improving Paragraphs questions. On the test, you’ll encounter the different sections in the following order:
  • The Essay
  • 20 Identifying Sentence Error questions
  • 18 Improving Sentences questions
  • 12 Improving Paragraphs questions
  • 10 Identifying Sentence Error questions
The Essay Section
You will have 20 minutes to plan and write one essay. After the 20 minutes are up, you will be forced to stop writing the essay, even if you’re not done. If you finish writing the essay early, which is pretty unlikely, you can proceed right to the multiple-choice section of the test.
The Multiple-Choice Questions
You will have 40 minutes to answer the 60 multiple-choice questions. In chapters to come, we will go over each of the three types of multiple-choice questions in great detail, discussing what material the different question types will cover, and the specific strategies to which each question type is vulnerable. For now, though, we just want to give you a rough idea of what the questions will look like. Below, you’ll find a very brief overview of each type, including a sample question.
Identifying Sentence Errors
As the name implies, your sole task on this type of multiple-choice question involves finding errors. That’s all you have to do. You don’t have to fix the errors, name them, or do anything other than spot them. Commonly tested subjects on this section are subject-verb agreement and verb tense.
Questions will look like this:
Even though the influx of people  has raised  rents citywide,
 A 
 there is  many financial gains  to be had  from the new  residents .
 B C D 
 No error 
 E
In this example, the correct answer is (B); the phrase there is uses a singular verb when it should use the plural verb are to match the plural subject gains. The original sentence has faulty subject-verb agreement.
Improving Sentences
Each question in the Improving Sentences section consists of a sentence with one portion underlined. You must decide if the underlined portion contains an error. If it does not, mark (A), no error. If it does, find the answer choice that corrects the problem.
Questions will look like this:
In her excitement about her trip to Paris, Emily has studied French with great enthusiasm, thus she completely neglects her Spanish class.
(A) enthusiasm, thus she completely neglects her Spanish class
(B) enthusiasm she completely neglects her Spanish class as a result
(C) enthusiasm and thus has completely neglected her Spanish class
(D) enthusiasm; her Spanish class neglected therefore
(E) enthusiasm; her Spanish class is neglected by this
The correct answer is (C). The original sentence is a run-on sentence, which (C) corrects by adding and as a conjunction.
Improving Paragraphs
For this type of question, you’ll be given two short essays that are purportedly written by students. You’ll read the essay and then answer six to eight questions about it. These questions fall under four categories:
  1. sentence revision questions
  2. sentence addition questions
  3. sentence combination questions
  4. analysis questions
We will show you an entire essay-and-questions sequence in the chapter devoted to Improving Paragraphs questions. Here we’ll just show you some sample questions.
Sentence Revision
Which of the answer choices below is the best way of revising the underlined part of sentence 7 (reprinted below)?
Sentence Addition
Which of the sentences below, if added after sentence 10, would provide the best transition from the first paragraph to the second paragraph?
Sentence Combination
Which of the following is the best way to combine sentences 3 and 4 (reprinted below)?
Analysis
All of the following are techniques the writer uses EXCEPT:
Most Improving Paragraphs questions fall into the category of sentence revision, but most tests contain at least one question of each type.
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