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Writing on Standardized Tests

While most students are familiar with weekly quizzes and tests, at some point, many students take a standardized test. Standardized tests are given to large groups and are kept consistent in the administration of the test, the questions on the test, and the scoring procedures.  It’s important for students to prepare for standardized tests by becoming familiar with the way the test is set up, the kinds of questions they’ll be asked, and by practicing the best ways to answer those questions.

Time4Writing.com provides many resources to prepare students for standardized tests like the SAT. Free writing resources are available on related topics like writing the SAT essay as well as editing paragraphs and improving sentences.  You’ll find articles on each topic as well as printable worksheets and quizzes, standardized test prep materials, interactive games, and video lessons.  For more in-depth practice, there is an eight-week course available to help students prepare for the SAT essay.

Free Writing Resources: Printables, Videos, Presentations, and Games

Identifying Sentence Errors

An important part of the writing process is the ability to identify sentence errors when making revisions. When reading over a sentence, can you pinpoint any improper grammar or incorrect usage or word choice? The Identify Sentence Errors section on a standardized test examines your aptitude in this area. Your job is to recognize which part, if any, must be corrected. The sentence either has a single error or no error at all. The advantage is that you do not have to explain how to correct the error. This task becomes much easier if you know which kinds of sentence errors are most common. One example of a common sentence error is improper location or tense of a participial phrase. Be aware of dangling participles too; these can reduce a sentence’s clarity. ... Read More »

Choosing The Better Sentence

Choosing the better sentence on standardized tests can be a challenging task if neither of the sentences has any grammatical or mechanical errors. Sometimes, there is a less obvious problem with one of the sentence’s structure or effectiveness, thus making it harder to choose the better sentence. You can recognize these more obscure flaws when you are prepared and know what to look for. For example, writing that lacks clarity and precision tends to have missing subjects, weak passive verbs, improper diction, or wordiness. Inconsistency in a sentence can be detected if you are familiar with concepts such as parallelism, sequence of tenses, and noun-number agreement. There are also common sentence errors that involve inappropriate use of conventions and illogical comparisons or word order. ... Read More »

Editing & Revising Paragraphs

The Improving Paragraphs section of a standardized test presents a draft of a short essay, which you must read and answer questions about. Many questions require you to understand the essay as a whole. For example, a question might ask about a particular sentence in the context of the paragraph it is from. The questions might provide a variety of editing options and ask which revision is most needed. When there are a few choices that would work, how do you know which one to choose? The tips and practice questions here will arm you with the expertise to tackle this section on editing and revising. ... Read More »

Improving Sentences

One advantage of standardized tests is that you know in advance what the question types are. This saves time and improves your confidence going into the test. The Improving Sentences section has a unique layout for which it is essential to be prepared. The answer choices are all different variations of one another and are intended to replace all or part of the original sentence in question. The phrase to be replaced is underlined, and the first answer choice is always identical to it. A common mistake when improving sentences is to select the first answer that makes sense and move on. Don’t be tempted to do this — there might still be a phrase that fits even better! The tips and practice questions for improving sentences provided here will help you avoid blunders like this and be prepared for this section. ... Read More »

Writing The SAT Essay

The essay writing portion of a standardized test assesses students’ abilities to develop ideas and express them effectively. The 25 minute time limit creates pressure to manage time wisely during the SAT essay. During this time, students should aim to write a five paragraph essay. The best way to improve SAT essay writing skills is to evaluate sample essays and to practice writing essays for various prompts. It is also important to know what the testers are looking for and how you can provide it. Testers spend about 45 seconds on each SAT essay, quickly detecting keywords, a coherent idea, and a few “million dollar words” carefully placed, before moving on. If you grab them in the beginning, hold on to them in the body, and provide a strong sense of closure, you might keep the tester interested for longer, maybe for even a whole minute! ... Read More »