SAT test prep and ACT test prep : How to Ace the Writing Portions

Writing sections are on both the SAT and ACT tests. They are a crucial part of the composite scores of each test. The SAT contains a mandatory essay, but on the ACT, the written essay is optional. However some schools require it as part of admissions. So how do students perform well on the written portions of these tests? The following tips can help students become a writing ace on the SAT or ACT. 

The Essay - Say What You Mean 

The SAT essay tests a student’s ability to clearly express the ideas that answer the test question. It is given at the beginning of the test. When you take the test, you demonstrate that you can develop and present your point of view logically and clearly. Most importantly, you need to use precise language to express these ideas. Always err on the side of clarity. You need to use specific words that get across the exact message that you want to convey. Resist using big, fancy words that you're unsure of as well. Reread the essay question carefully to understand the exact nature of the question. Since you’ll only have 25 minutes from start to finish for the test, time management is important.

The ACT writing test is administered at the end of the test, is 30 minutes long and requires separate registration. To do well on this test, you need to be prepared to clearly write an organized essay about a topic unique to high school students. Choose one side of the topic to explain, state your view clearly and give examples. Stay focused and on topic, and end with a brief closing paragraph. 

SAT test prep resized 600

Improve. Identify. Review 

To ace the three other sections on the SAT Writing test (Improving Sentences, Identifying Sentence Errors and Improving Paragraphs) you need to learn to recognize and use the basic grammatical concepts of Standard English. You must correct faults in usage and sentence structure, and learn to improve sentences so they relate more effectively to the overall focus of the reading selection. And you must be able to develop well organized paragraphs in order to express ideas succinctly. Consistent review of the basic tenants of grammar will give you the best chance of success. Take advantage of all practice test question opportunities that allow for feedback as well.


Practice does make perfect when it comes to SAT test prep! Practicing timed writing exercises for both the SAT and/or ACT and using practice test questions from the other portions of the SAT written test are smart moves for getting prepared for these portions of the test. With practice, you can become more comfortable with the overall testing process, the timing of each section and the presentation of your writing.


Leave a Comment