05 Oct 2017

Error Types on the SAT Writing Section Part 2

Last time I talked about the four main error types you see throughout all four passages of the writing section. Today, I’m going to talk about the rest of the errors. First, a caveat. While there is generally a pattern with the SAT Writing section (meaning you can predict most of the error types), I have seen the section throw in a couple wildcard questions. These questions will usually have an error type that can be obscure. However, I find these incredibly rare. With that being said, let’s go on to the rest of the error types.


To start, I will list the rest of the common errors here:



-Agreement (their or its)

-Case (I vs Me)



Subject-Verb Agreement




Misplaced Modifiers






Comma Placements


Complete the Sentence (CTS)


The list above encompasses pretty much 90% of the error types that you would see on the Writing Section. The last 10% would be the wildcard types I mentioned above. The biggest one you should understand would be pronoun questions. As pronouns are a significant part of speech to understand, you should ensure that you study them well before taking the test. There might not be many questions on it, but because they’re so basic, they should be free points when they come up. Most pronoun agreement questions will either test you on the possessive pronouns or regular pronoun agreement. When you see a pronoun in the underlined portion, check for two things. First, can you spot what it refers to? If you can’t or it might refer to two different things, then it’s ambiguous and you have to fix it by changing the pronoun to something specific. If you do find what the pronoun refers to, then make sure it agrees in number. Finally, the last pronoun error will test you on whether it should be “I or me.” That will require you to see if it is used as a subject or an object pronoun. One of the easiest ways to see that is change the “I or me” portion to “he or him” and see which one sounds the best. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a nice way to check.


After pronoun errors, you have the Subject-Verb Agreement and Tense errors. These two are essentially two sides of the same coin and should be straight-forward. Check for number agreement (singular or plural) and if the answer choices show past tense or past participle, then it’s also testing you on tense. A common test is whether it is past tense or present perfect.


The next grouping I would put together is misplaced modifiers (MM), idioms, and chart/graph. These three don’t come up too much (with idioms probably the most), but they’re also easy to solve. If you ever have a phrase that is underlined and the answer choices move the subject around, it is possible that it’s a MM error. Idiom errors are similar to diction errors in which words in the answer choices would change. However, you can usually tell that it is an idiom error because the definitions of the words aren’t similar like in diction errors and they’re usually prepositions. For idiom errors, there’s not much you can do except know them. Thus, the best thing to do is just sound it out. Lastly, Chart/Graph problems will usually occur only once within the section. For these questions, you have to change the underlined portion to reflect the information in the graph or chart.


The last grouping of errors would be Comma Placements and what I call “Complete the Sentence” (CTS). In a lot of ways, they’re similar but I separated out Comma Placements because there are so many questions that just focus on where the comma should be. Watch out for comma splices and whether you should make a portion of the sentence a comma bracket or not (basically unnecessary info). For CTS questions, they will test you on things like single or double dashes or rearranging the sentence around. What you’re supposed to do is make the changes so that the whole thing becomes a concise, complete sentence.

I know I didn’t go into these errors in detail but this article is already becoming too long. In future articles, I’ll probably go into these errors in detail, but for now, it should be enough that you know what they are. Google these errors and look up how they should be used. It will go a long way towards making you better on the SAT Writing section.

Until then, thanks so much for reading, and if you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected].


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