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Strategy 12: Standard English Conventions

Strategy 12: Standard English Conventions

On the SAT Writing & Language Test, you will encounter questions that will ask you to interact with and revise passages in different ways. Standard English Conventions questions ask you to make sentences consistent with standard grammar, usage, and punctuation conventions.

A note on the images in this article: all Writing and Language Test items will be associated with a passage, but the full passages are not included here, only excerpts. Each question pictured is just one example of how items in that category can look.

Some sub-topics within Standard English Conventions:
Sentence Structure — These questions focus on editing text to correct problems in sentence formation and inappropriate shifts in construction within and between sentences.

Sentence Formation questions will ask you to correct problems with sentences, including issues with modifier placement, parallel structure, sentence boundaries, and subordination and coordination.

Inappropriate Shifts in Construction questions will ask you to correct inappropriate shifts in verb tense, voice, and mood.

Conventions of Usage — These questions focus on editing text to ensure conformity to the conventions of standard written English usage.
Pronouns and Agreement questions will ask you to correct errors in pronoun use and agreement.

Frequently Confused Words questions will ask you to recognize and correct instances in which a word or phrase is confused with another (e.g., accept/except, allusion/illusion).

Logical Comparison questions will ask you to correct cases in which unlike terms are compared.

Conventional Expression questions will ask you to correct cases in which a given expression is inconsistent with standard written English.

Conventions of Punctuation — These questions focus on editing text to ensure conformity to the conventions of standard written English punctuation.
Within-Sentence Punctuation questions will ask you to correct inappropriate uses of colons, semicolons, and dashes.

Possessive Nouns and Pronouns questions will ask you to correct inappropriate uses of possessive nouns and pronouns as well as differentiate between possessive and plural forms.

Items in a Series questions will ask you to correct inappropriate uses of punctuation (commas and semicolons) to separate items in a series.

Nonrestrictive and Parenthetical Elements questions will ask you to correctly use punctuation (commas, parentheses, dashes) to set off nonrestrictive and parenthetical sentence elements as well as recognize and correct cases in which restrictive or essential sentence elements are inappropriately set off with punctuation.

Unnecessary Punctuation questions will ask you to correct cases in which unnecessary punctuation appears in a sentence. 

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