Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

When to Guess on the SAT Writing Section

Videos   Writing   SAT
Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep video
We’ve covered guessing on the SAT Math questions and Critical Reading sections. Now it’s time to discuss the dreaded SAT Writing section, particularly the multiple choice questions (you had better not “guess” on the essay) :)

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When to Guess on the SAT Writing Section (transcript)

I want to briefly share my thoughts with you on guessing in the writing section. In particular it is the multiple choice portion of the writing section. There are two types of problems. The first type that comes up on a test is improving a sentence; it tests your editorial skills in a sense. What you should do in that section is correct or improve the sentence in your head before you look at the rest of the answer choices. Come up with your own improvement and if you can find one of the answer choices that are very close to yours, pick that one. If you find that one, pick it and move on. Do not waste time going through the wrong answers and verifying that they are truly wrong. You are going to need that time towards the end of the test.

If you read it and you can not find a way to improve the sentence or you are confused, go to the shortest answer first. If there are two that work but one is more concise than the other it is the shorter one that will the best answer. If you have no clue after you read it and you can not think of a good improvement on your own, you might as well go through and do the shortest one first. If it works out, pick it and move on. If it does not work, go to the next shortest one until you find the right answer.

The next section that comes up in the multiple choice writing is denifying the grammatical error in the sentence. I suggest developing an ear for that section. Do as many practice tests as you can and develop an ear for what sounds right and what does not. Ultimately, if you have a good ear for that section it will carry you through pretty quickly and painlessly. If you do not have a good ear do not worry about it. Do a lot of practice problems, review the correct answers, figure out why they are correct and start to develop a good ear for yourself.

If you can eliminate one or more wrong answers for example: In the first section if you see a pronoun “they” and you are looking for the noun and you can not find one in the sentence; “they” needs to be replaced by a noun and the answer choice that has “they” in it should be quickly eliminated. If you can eliminate some definite wrong answers you might as well take a guess and move on to the next problem and hopefully that will maximize your score.

Karl Schellscheidt
ePrep, Inc.

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