SAT Writing Section Rules, Guide, Tips, Sample, Practice, Syllabus, Questions


Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Jun 21, 2023 01:16 PM IST

The SAT Writing and Language section judges how impeccable your English is. Your clarity of argument and word choice will help you to augment your scores in this section. Read more to find everything about the SAT Writing and Language Section.

Everything You Need to Know About SAT Writing and Language Section

The importance of SAT writing and language is equivalent to the importance of English in countries like the US, UK, Canada or any other English-speaking country, for that matter. The second section of the SAT, the writing and language section is aimed at evaluating your grammar and the effective use of language in general. The tasks you are given here, are based on finding out the errors and correcting them.

To ace SAT writing, you need to have a sound understanding of English grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, and rhetoric. This, however, cannot be achieved overnight but, in fact, with years of hard work and understanding of the language along with all the sections of the SAT.

This guide will help you to understand the SAT writing and language section thoroughly and score high on the test.

SAT Writing and Language Section: An Overview

Let us have a quick look at the SAT writing and language section before proceeding deeply into its discussion.



Total Number of Questions



35 minutes

Question Type

Multiple choice question

Two sub-portions

Expression of Ideas and Standard English Conventions

Total number of Passages


Score Range

200-800 (Combined with the reading section of SAT)

Skills Tested in SAT Writing and Language

Language skill is important for admission to US universities. College Board, the conducting body of the SAT, has selected the writing and language section to evaluate students:

  • Clarity of argument

  • Word choice

  • Ability to analyse topics in social studies and sciences

  • The Sentence or word structure

  • Punctuation

  • Word usage

  • Style and rhetorical skills

Explore a List of SAT-Accepting Universities Across the World!

SAT Writing and Language Section Rules

The SAT writing and language section rules prepare students to face challenges posed by the questions in this section. Reviewing, memorising and applying these rules will go a long way in addressing the section. Here are some top grammar rules that will come to aid in the SAT writing and language section:

  • There should be an agreement in the number of subjects and verbs. If the subject is singular, then the verb should be plural and vice versa.

  • The collective nouns are treated as singular. When multiple people are referred together they form a singular unit.

  • Pronouns must have a clear reference to the person and numbers. The SAT exam often uses sentences where it is confusing to understand to whom the pronoun is referring. Along with that, they also use numbers that do not agree with the pronouns. Students should mindfully attempt these questions.

  • Modifiers always appear along with the words they are modifying. The modifier should appear before the word modified.

  • Each word should have contextual meaning and students need to decipher them. Often homophones are used to present challenges in front of students. The words given as options for multiple-choice questions often bear similar meanings but are not appropriate in the context.

SAT Writing and Language Format

After the SAT reading section, you would have to attempt the writing and language section of the SAT which is 35 minutes long. It consists of a total of 44 questions that have to be completed without that time.

The section includes four passages followed by 11 multiple-choice questions. The SAT writing questions are often pictographically represented in the form of charts and diagrams. You can expect at least two questions based on pictures. Each of the passages is around 400-450 words, which is less than the reading section.

A range of topics such as science, history, social studies, and humanities are included in the writing and language question paper of the SAT.

  • There is one narrative passage that describes the event as a story. This passage can be fiction or non-fiction, a historical event, or maybe a description of events in scientific experiments.
  • The other passage can be argumentative. They convince the reader of some idea.

  • Some passages consist of pictographic like charts, graphs or infographics to be interpreted with the writing passage.

Broadly, SAT Writing questions fall into two categories:

1. Expression of Ideas -The questions check the expression of ideas and include the following types of questions:

  • Development Questions - These questions focus on the main ideas and supporting logic.

  • Organisation Questions -They focus on logical sequence and placement of ideas.

  • Effective Language Use Questions - Here the style and tone of the sentences and the flow of it are considered.

2. Recognition and Error Correction of Sentence Structure, Usage, Vocabulary, and Grammar -In this question type, errors such as run-on types of sentences or incomplete sentences and incorrect usage of grammar and punctuation are noted.

Question Type


Multiple-choice questions

25 minutes + 10 minutes

The writing section of the SAT consists of at least 24 questions and the remaining 20 questions are based on grammar usage. The breakdown is more or less evenly divided between the two sections.

Topics Covered in SAT Writing and Language Section

If the SAT appears as a vast unknown to you then you need not worry. Here, are a few recurrent topics that come up every year, and practising them thoroughly will help you in your examination.

SAT Writing and Language Section Syllabus
Punctuation Parallelism
Subject-verb agreement Modifiers
Verbs Tenses
Pronouns Expression of Ideas

SAT Writing and Language Section Sample and Practice

It is extremely crucial to practice SAT writing and language samples and practice papers before attempting the real test. As the SAT writing and language focuses on reading comprehension and finding and correcting errors, students need to practice diverse questions. Here are the benefits of practising SAT writing and language section:

  • Students will learn to identify errors in subject-verb agreements, pronouns and other types of sentences.

  • They can easily find out mistakes and correct phrases, clauses and sentence errors.

  • They can learn to spot punctuation errors.

  • Test takers gain knowledge on how to improve their sentences.

  • The writing style will improve immensely as students will keep practising the SAT writing and language sample papers.

How Can You Score High inSAT Writing and Language Section?

The strategy for SAT writing and language section is a critical one as you cannot just mug up all the rules and usages overnight. It requires you to practice a lot and work out hard throughout your preparation phase. Here are the SAT writing and language tips.

  • Study the basics well. Have a good understanding of punctuation, subject-verb agreement, idioms, homophone usage, pronouns, verbs, modifiers, run-on sentences, comparison, description, and parallel constructions. Some of these you have been doing forever while some you might need to learn and relearn to score better on the SAT.

  • Studying the rules alone will not help. You will have to remember and practice them well on practice papers. Solving worksheets and SAT practice papers will help you understand your progress as well as work on your weaknesses.SAT writing and language practice are very important.

  • Improve your writing strategies. The writing section checks your reading as well as your writing skills. You have to work on a few aspects of writing such as tone, cohesion, congruence, support, formality, and purpose. Read a vast variety of books and articles to understand the aforementioned ideas to write better.

  • You will have to dedicate your time, energy, and commitment to the preparation for the SAT. You will have to practice well throughout the week to get that perfect writing style that will smoothen your road to college admission in the USA.

  • You will have to be a judge of your errors and correct them yourself to have a better idea of where you stand when it comes to your knowledge of English.

  • One of the common mistakes which students make is to misread a question. So it's your first task to set up and increase your concentration level.

  • Polish your skills of eliminating the options. Sometimes it is how you can arrive at the correct answer. In case of error questions, you can eliminate the correct answers to reach the wrong one.

  • Remember that there can be questions where the correct option is No error. So, don't shy away from choosing it if your mind signals you to do so.

  • As the time allocated to each SAT writing question is relatively less, you would not have enough time to think while attempting them. The best way here is to mark the right answer whilst reading the question.

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Is there a writing and language section on SAT?

Yes, there is a writing and language section on SAT. Here, the grammar and use of the language of students are checked along with their ability to edit and correct various texts on different topics in the English language. There are tables, charts and graphs in the questions for students to answer from.

What does the SAT writing and language section ask students to do?

The SAT writing and language section asks students to enact the editing process that they will have to undergo while writing their college assignments.This section is not based on rote memory like it was before. Students get a chance to improvise the SAT passages by clearing ideas, creating a logical sequence of information and correcting grammar and punctuation.

What is the SAT writing and language section syllabus?

The SAT writing and language section syllabus consists of questions on the command of evidence, words in context, expression of ideas and standard English conventions. The passages come from history, social studies, science and humanities and careers. Subject-verb agreement, pronouns, parallelism and modifiers are some of the common SAT topics.

What is SAT writing and language section time?

The time allotted for SAT writing and language section is 35 minutes where questions are asked from 4 passages. Students get around 40 seconds to answer each question, therefore, it is extremely important for them to be aware and alert. Due to the time limitations and a huge number of questions, students have to adopt strategies to tackle the writing and language section efficiently.

How many questions are in SAT writing and language section?

There are 44 multiple choice questions from the SAT writing and language section. Questions are asked from 4 passages of around 400-450 words. The questions are multiple-choice and there are four options given for each question. The passages can be both argumentative and narrative or informatory.

Is SAT writing and language section optional?

No, the SAT writing and language section is not optional. Students need to appear compulsorily for this section of SAT. However, SAT essays have been discontinued by the College Board. The tasks that are provided in the SAT writing and language section are extremely important and true indicators of students’ abilities.

How to do well in SAT writing and language section?

In order to do well in SAT writing and language section, students have to use correct grammar and have a good vocabulary. They will have to learn how to eliminate answers and find the correct ones. Skimming through passages is more important than reading them thoroughly as it is important to do a maximum number of questions correctly.

What are the best books for SAT writing and language section?

The best books for SAT writing and language section are ‘The College Panda’s SAT Writing’, ‘SAT Prep Black Book’, ‘The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar’, ‘SAT Reading & Writing Prep by Kaplan’ and ‘McGraw-Hill Education Conquering the SAT Writing and Language Test’. These books contain tests, answers and explanations to questions and strategies to answer multiple-choice questions.

Where can I practice for SAT writing and language section?

You can practice for SAT writing and language section with the help of our test prep services where you will get mentorship from the top SAT faculties. Here, the SAT coaches will help you with strategies for your SAT writing and language section and will help you chalk out a master plan for studying.

How is the SAT writing and language section scored?

The SAT writing and language section is scored along with the reading section of SAT on a scale of 200-800. The writing section is scored on a scale of 10 to 40 where the score range for expression of ideas, standard English conventions, words in context and command of evidence each are scored on a scale of 1-15.

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