Joanna is a TA and Content Developer at Knewton, where she helped identify the grammar rules students need to know in their SAT prep.
The two portions of the Writing section on the SAT test the same rules. At Knewton, we break them down into a list called the Freshman 15. Your ticket to a sweet score on this section is to learn these rules. Think about it this way; if someone could give you a list of every vocabulary word that could possibly be tested on your exam and you could ace the sentence completion section by memorizing a list of about 15 words, you’d be ecstatic, right?
What’s even more exciting is that the simplest rules, the ones that are the most easily memorizable, are the ones that are tested on the “hardest” questions. Why is that?
Well, none of us, in everyday speech, would use, let alone recognize an error in a sentence like: “I am at once delighted with the contents of your speech but annoyed with your tone.” The correct version of this sentence is: “I am at once impressed by the contents of your speech and annoyed with your tone.” But once I tell you that “at once…and” must come as a pair, I bet you’d never miss a question testing this concept. Knowing this rule — and the fact that other connector buddies like “neither…nor,” “between…and,” and “just as…so” go together — will get you a hard question right on the Improving Sentences section every time.
The same 15 or so simple and digestible rules come up again and again. Learn them and you’ll be at once eager to tell everyone about your score increase and ready to apply to better colleges.