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

SAT Essay Rubric - Grammar and Word Usage

Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep videoThis entry is the fifth and final video post dedicated to explaining the categories of the SAT essay grading rubric - or scoring guide. In this entry Karl discusses Grammar and Word Usage.

SAT Essay Rubric - Grammar and Word Usage (Transcript)

This is the last of five videos in which I discuss the essay gracing rubric. In the first 4 videos I discussed Development of Position, Organization, Use of Language and Sentence Structure. In this video I’d like to discuss Grammar and Word Usage.

Let me give you an example of poor grammar; If a person wants to become a tennis player, they should practice everyday. There is a grammatical error here; If a person – person is singular – If a person wants to become a better tennis player – they – they is a plural pronoun and a person cant be its proper noun antecedent. There is an inconsistency in number. A person is singular, and they is plural. The sentence should read; If a person wants to become a tennis player, he or she should practice everyday. That’s an example of a grammatical error.

Word Usage. When I hear Word Usage, I think of idioms. If you said in a sentence; Somebody was preoccupied in something, there is a word usage error. You’re not preoccupied in something; you can be preoccupied with something. So the word in is not right, with is the proper word. Somebody can be preoccupied with something. You want to watch out for Word Usage error.

Also in this category is Punctuation. When do you use a comma? When do you use a semicolon? When do you use a colon? My advice is this; if you feel like you’re not great at grammar, you’re not on top of your game when it comes to word usage or punctuation I think you should you work really hard on preparing yourself with the writing section of the SAT the multiple choice portion. If you go through those multiple choice exams, you launch yourself into review and you get some expert help and you learn the rules that are tested in the multiple choice section, this will teach you everything you need to know with regard to Word Usage, Grammar and Punctuation to nail the essay and score high in this category.

So again, if you feel that your grammar skills are not where they should be, word usage is something that confuses you and punctuation is something that you never got right, spend some time working on the multiple section of the writing test and you will get there eventually.

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