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Unique Writing and Language Subscores

The SAT Suite of Assessments has been redesigned to provide more information by reporting more scores than ever before. Based on interest from higher education professionals in a more granular view of student performance as well as on feedback from K–12 educators seeking a more refined picture of student achievement, the College Board will publish seven subscores, each on a scale of 1 to 15. Two of these subscores are unique to the Writing and Language Test, and two will be calculated based on questions from both the Writing and Language and Reading Tests. Learn about the shared subscores.

Expression of Ideas

Questions about expression of ideas focus on revision of text for topic development; organization, logic, and cohesion; and rhetorically effective use of language. Students may be asked to:

  • Replace a sentence with one that states the main claim more clearly.
  • Add evidence that supports an argument.
  • Remove an example that’s not relevant to the passage’s central idea.
  • Correct the writer’s interpretation of the data presented in a graph.
  • Ensure that information and ideas are presented in the clearest and most logical order.
  • Decide which word or phrase expresses an idea most clearly.
  • Choose between similar words with different connotations.
  • Revise language to get rid of wordiness or repetition.
  • Change a sentence so that it is more consistent with the passage’s style or tone.
  • Revise sentence structure to shift emphasis.
  • Combine two sentences effectively.

Standard English Conventions

Questions that contribute to this subscore focus on editing text to ensure conformity to the conventions of standard written English sentence structure, usage, and punctuation. These questions will ask a student to recognize and correct:

  • Grammatically incomplete sentences, run-ons, and comma splices.
  • Problems with coordination or subordination of clauses in sentences.
  • Sentences with similar parts that are not parallel.
  • Dangling and other misplaced modifiers.
  • Inappropriate shifts in verb tense, voice, and mood and in pronoun person and number.
  • Vague or ambiguous pronouns.
  • Confusion between the words its/it’s, your/you’re, and their/they’re/there, as well as other commonly confused words (e.g., affect and effect).
  • Lack of agreement between pronouns and antecedents, between subjects and verbs, and between nouns.
  • Illogical comparisons between unlike terms.
  • Cases of nonstandard expression (when words and phrases are used in a way not typical to standard written English).
  • Problems with using end-of-sentence punctuation or punctuation within sentences (particularly colons, semicolons, and dashes) to signal sharp breaks in thought.
  • Confusion between plurals and possessives and between singular and plural possessives.
  • Problems with punctuating a series of items.
  • Confusion between restrictive/essential and nonrestrictive/nonessential sentence elements.
  • Unnecessary punctuation (for example, between a subject and a verb).