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!
Scoring Your Practice Test
After you take your practice test, you’ll no doubt want to score it and see how you did. When you do your scoring, don’t just write down how many questions you answered correctly and incorrectly and tally up your score. Instead, keep a list of every question you got wrong and every question you skipped. This list will be your guide when you study your test.
Studying Your . . . No, Wait, Go Take a Break
Go relax for a while. You know how to do that.
Studying Your Practice Test
After grading your test, you should have a list of the questions you answered incorrectly or skipped. Studying your test involves going through this list and examining each question you answered incorrectly. When you look at each question, you shouldn’t just look to see what the correct answer is, but rather why you got the question wrong and how you could have gotten the question right. Train yourself in the process of getting the question right.
Why did you get the question wrong?
There are three main reasons why you might have gotten an individual question wrong.
You thought you knew the answer, but actually you didn’t.
You managed to eliminate some answer choices and then guessed among the remaining answers; sadly, you guessed wrong.
You knew the answer but made a careless mistake.
You should know which of these reasons applies to every question you got wrong.
What could you have done to get the question right?
The reasons you got a question wrong affect how you should think about it while studying your test.
If You Got a Question Wrong for Reason 1, Lack of Knowledge
A question answered incorrectly for Reason 1 identifies a weakness in your knowledge of the material tested on the SAT II Writing. Discovering this wrong answer gives you an opportunity to target your weakness. When addressing that weakness, make sure that you don’t look solely at that question; study the rule governing that question, too. Say you get an Improving Paragraphs question wrong that asks you to combine two sentences. Don’t just note that the right answer involved combining the sentences using a comma and a conjunction; study the other ways you can combine sentences, and look at the ways people commonly combine sentences incorrectly. Remember, you will not see a question exactly like the question you got wrong. But you probably will see a question that covers the same topic as the practice question. For that reason, when you get a question wrong, don’t just figure out the right answer to the question—learn the broader topic of which the question tests only a piece.
If You Got a Question Wrong for Reason 2, Guessing Wrong
If you guessed wrong, review your guessing strategy. Did you guess smartly? Could you have eliminated more answers? If yes, why didn’t you? By thinking in this critical way about the decisions you made while taking the practice test, you can train yourself to make quicker, more decisive, and better decisions.
If you took a guess and chose the incorrect answer, don’t let that sour you on guessing. Even as you go over the question and figure out if there was any way for you to have answered the question without having to guess, remind yourself that if you eliminated at least one answer and guessed, even if you got the question wrong, you followed the right strategy.
If You Got a Question Wrong for Reason 3, Carelessness
If you discover you got a question wrong because you were careless, it might be tempting to say to yourself, “Oh I made a careless error,” and assure yourself you won’t do that again. That is not enough. You made that careless mistake for a reason, and you should try to figure out why. Whereas getting a question wrong because you didn’t know the answer constitutes a weakness in your knowledge about the test subject, making a careless mistake represents a weakness in your method of taking the test.
To overcome this weakness, you need to approach it in the same critical way you would approach a lack of knowledge. Study your mistake. Reenact your thought process on the problem and see where and how your carelessness came about: Were you rushing? Did you jump at the first answer that seemed right instead of reading all the answers? Know your error and look it in the eye. If you learn precisely what your mistake was, you are much less likely to make that mistake again.
If You Left the Question Blank
It is also a good idea to study the questions you left blank on the test, since those questions constitute a reservoir of lost points. If you left the question blank, then a different thinking applies. A blank answer is a result either of:
In the case of the first possibility, you should see if there was some way you might have been able to eliminate an answer choice or two and put yourself in a better position to guess. In the second case, look over the question and see whether you think you could have answered it. If you definitely could have, then you know that you are throwing away points by working too slowly. If you couldn’t, study the relevant material and review your guessing strategy.
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