The writing section of the SAT includes grammar rules. While you may be an excellent writer and grammar feels intuitive to you, the SAT is trying to trip you up. The only way to ensure you can answer every question correctly to memorize grammar rules. Here are three common grammar concepts that can cause problems for students. Spend time memorizing these three rules to do well on the exam.
Punctuation is one of the most commonly used grammar rules. It is also easy to make mistakes because you may be consistently using punctuation incorrectly. Memorize where to use commas, semicolons, dashes, and colons. Focus on how to format lists, use modifiers, and use conjunctions. This article from Grammarly offers a comprehensive list of how to use commas. Grammar Girl provides a simple explanation of semicolons and colons.
2) Idioms and Standard English
The SAT likes to test words that are confused or used inappropriately. This includes possessives and plurals. Do you know when to use an apostrophe s versus just an s? In addition, words such as there, they’re and their; its and it’s; and effect and affect will show up on the exam. You need to know the definitions of homonyms and how to use them in context. You will also need to know what words belong in correct phrases and common figures of speech.
3) Verb Agreement and Parallel Construction
You will need to make sure that sentences accurately use verbs. Verbs must agree with the subject. Likewise, verbs must also be used in the same tense throughout the sentence. For example, if there is a list including verbs ending in -ing, they must all end in -ing.
This example of a verb agreement question comes from Practice Test 8 from the College Board:
As a result, organic material that is sent to landfills
8 contribute to the release of methane, a very
9potent greenhouse gas.
You need to be able to determine the subject that the verb should agree with. It may be tempting to agree “landfills” and “contribute.” However, the correct answer is C because “contributes” should agree with the subject, “organic material.” Practice breaking apart sentences to identify subjects, verbs, and objects. Knowing the different components of a sentence will help you know how to structure them appropriately.
Memorizing grammar rules will give you the confidence you need to answer the questions correctly. These grammar rules show up on the exam within the context of a written passage. You should practice recognizing and using grammar rules when you read and write. The more aware of these rules you become, the easier it will be to use them on the exam. The time used memorizing grammar rules and how to use them will be well spent.
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