SAT Writing: How are Writing Sections Organized?
SAT Writing includes an essay question and two sections of multiple choice questions.
- The Essay is always the FIRST section on the SAT.
- The bulk of multiple choice questions then come in one big, 25 minute section of 35 questions, and which appears somewhere between Sections 2-7.
- Additionally, a short, ten minute section of 14 Improving Sentences questions is always the last section of the test (Section 10).
The multiple choice (non-Essay) part of SAT Writing includes three types of questions:
- Improving Sentences (IS):
Part or all of a sentence is underlined and you have to decide which is the best version of the underlined part.
- Error Identification (EI):
Four different words or phrases are underlined in a sentence and you have to decide whether any of these underlined parts contain an error.
- Improving Paragraphs (IP):
Questions on how to improve parts of a poorly written passage.
Improving Sentences (25 questions) and Error IDs (18 Questions) make up the vast majority of SAT Writing MC questions, while Improving Paragraphs account for only 6 out of the 49 total questions.
Improving Sentences and Error ID questions tend to appear in order of difficulty, with the easiest questions of each type appearing at the beginning and the hardest questions appearing near the end. Improvement Paragraph questions, by contrast, do not appear of order of difficulty.
On the long Writing multiple choice section, answer Improving Paragraphs questions first. Then go back to the beginning of the section and answer the rest of the questions.
After slogging through 11 Sentence Improvements and 18 Error IDs, test fatigue and time pressure combine to make the Improving Paragraph questions far more difficult at the end of the long Writing section than they would be if they were positioned earlier.
By moving to the back of the section and answering these questions first, you can pick up easy points that other students often miss. This strategy also helps you better manage your time because the final questions will then be shorter Error IDs instead of the longer Paragraph Improvements.
From my SAT training guide: SAT Unlocked.