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Writing and Language Test

The Writing and Language Test puts students in the active role of an editor who is improving a written passage. Most questions ask students to decide which, if any, of the three alternatives to an underlined part of a passage most improves it.

Important:

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Quick Facts

  • All Writing and Language Test questions are multiple choice and based on passages.
  • Some passages are paired with informational graphics such as charts, graphs, and tables.
  • Prior topic-specific knowledge is never tested.
  • No mathematical computation is required.

The Reading–Writing Connection

All components of the redesigned SAT Suite of Assessments will include a Reading Test and a Writing and Language Test. A student’s scores on these two tests are combined to arrive at a section score for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.

The test structure reflects the relationship between these two literacy skills and their shared focus on textual evidence, words in context, and application of skills across the curriculum.

Passages

All Writing and Language passages will be created especially for the test so that errors can be intentionally introduced. Passages will be several paragraphs long so that students can engage in complex, real-world revision and editing tasks, and students will often need to have a good understanding of one or more paragraphs, or even the entire passage, to answer a particular question. The passages on the Writing and Language Test vary in complexity, ranging from texts like those found in challenging courses in grades 9 and 10 to texts comparable to those found in typical college-level, credit-bearing courses.

Passages take the form of arguments, informative/explanatory texts, or nonfiction narratives. They address topics related to careers, history/social studies, the humanities, and science.

Distinctive Features

The Writing and Language Test will support the redesigned SAT Suite's emphasis on analysis in history/social studies passages, and the interpretation of words in context and command of evidence in science passages.

Some questions will test students on the expression of ideas. These questions ask students to improve topic development, organization, and rhetorical effectiveness. This category includes passages on the topics of science and history/social studies. Thus, some Writing and Language Test questions will also test students on analysis in science and analysis in history/social studies.

Other questions test students on their understanding of standard English conventions. These ask students to edit text so that words, phrases, sentences, and punctuation are used appropriately and in a way that is consistent with the practices of standard written English.

As on the Reading Test, some Writing and Language Test questions assess how well students understand words in context. These questions ask students to improve passages by using words carefully and with purpose.

Students’ command of evidence is also assessed by some questions on the Writing and Language Test, as on the Reading Test. These questions assess how well students revise a passage to improve the way it develops information and ideas.

Informational Graphics

The Writing and Language Test includes some passages that are paired with tables, charts, graphs, and other informational graphics. Students will be asked to draw connections between the graphics and the text they accompany. For example, students might need to correct a passage’s inaccurate interpretation of the data presented in a table or to improve the clarity or precision of that interpretation. However, they’ll never need to use mathematical computation to answer the questions.

Sample Questions

Learn about the Writing and Language Test firsthand by viewing sample questions for the redesigned SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, and PSAT 10. Each assessment will include Writing and Language questions that connect to two subscores shared with the Reading Test and two subscores that are unique to the Writing and Language Test.