Digital SAT Reading and Writing Section: What You Need To Know

Student taking the digital SAT reading and writing section

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The popular pen-and-paper SAT test is going digital in 2024 – allowing students to take the exam on a computer at designated centers. This exam is a computer-based version of the well-known standardized test students can take as part of the college application process. In this post, we’re going to discuss the digital SAT Reading and Writing section!

First, what’s changing on the digital SAT?

Several changes are make the digital SAT quite different from the traditional SAT. The digital SAT offers increased flexibility and accessibility. More testing dates and locations are available, giving students more opportunities to take the test. Faster score reporting is yet another big advantage, as this allows students to receive results within days instead of weeks. The test is also shorter and is now only two sections. If you want an in-depth guide, check out our guide to the digital SAT and all the changes on our blog.

Test security is another important aspect of the digital SAT. Computer-based exams help minimize cheating and ensure fair testing for all students. Overall, the digital SAT offers benefits in terms of accessibility, efficiency, and test security. Transitioning to a computer-based format has helped the SATs remain an important tool for assessing college readiness while preparing students for the digital skills needed in higher education and beyond.

The digital SAT Reading and Writing section

The digital SAT’s Reading and Writing section is an important part of the exam that evaluates a student’s reading comprehension skills. It consists of multiple-choice questions that provide a comprehensive assessment of a student’s ability to understand, analyze, and effectively communicate information.

Let’s look deeper into what these sections include.

Girl reading in order to practice for her examImage by storyset on Freepik

Section breakdown

The digital SAT’s Reading and Writing section evaluates a student’s reading comprehension and writing skills with the help of multiple-choice questions.

The Reading section features passages from various subjects. Students must read the passages and answer multiple-choice questions that test their understanding, analysis, and interpretation. These questions cover the main ideas, the author’s purpose or tone, specific details, and inference-making.

The Writing portion assesses grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and rhetorical skills. The multiple-choice questions check if the students are capable of identifying and correcting errors, improving clarity and coherence, and refining language usage. There are quite a few topics for students to include subject-verb agreement, verb tense consistency, pronoun reference, and parallel structure.

The digital SAT provides user-friendly features like text highlighting, question flagging, and simultaneous access to passages and questions. Since time management is a huge issue for a lot of test-takers, the timers provided with the digital structure help students manage their time effectively.

Digital SAT Reading and Writing section structure

The digital SAT Reading and Writing section consists of different question types and follows a specific structure to evaluate a student’s reading comprehension and writing skills.

In the Reading section, students will come across multiple-choice questions that assess their understanding of the passages. These question types include:

1. Main idea: Identify the primary purpose or main idea of a passage.

2. Detail: Retrieve specific details or information mentioned in the passage.

3. Inference: Make logical inferences based on the information presented in the passage.

4. Vocabulary in context: Determine the meaning of words or phrases based on the passage’s context.

5. Author’s tone/attitude: Determine the author’s tone or attitude towards a particular topic.

6. Function: Identify the role or function of a specific sentence or paragraph within the passage.

In the Writing section, students will encounter multiple-choice questions that assess:

1. Grammar and usage: Identify and correct grammar errors such as subject-verb agreement or pronoun reference.

2. Sentence structure: Evaluate the arrangement and structure of sentences, including modifiers and parallelism.

3. Words in context: Determine the most appropriate word or phrase to use in a given sentence.

4. Revising and editing: Identify and correct errors in sentence structure, punctuation, and paragraph organization.

A breakdown of the types of passages

Students will witness various types of passages that cover a wide range of subject areas. These passages are designed to assess students’ reading comprehension skills and their ability to analyze and understand different types of texts. Common passage types include:

  • Literary fiction: These passages feature excerpts from literary works such as novels, short stories, or plays. Students will have to analyze characters, settings, themes, or literary techniques used by the author.
  • Nonfiction: Nonfiction passages cover a variety of topics including science, history, humanities, and social science. These passages aim to assess students’ ability to analyze informational texts.
  • Historical documents: The passages include excerpts from historical speeches, letters, or documents. Students have to analyze the author’s perspective, purpose, or impact.
  • Natural sciences: These passages explore scientific concepts, theories, or discoveries. Students may be asked to infer conclusions, interpret data, or explain certain scientific processes.
  • Social sciences: Passages in this category focus on topics like sociology, psychology, political science, or anthropology. Students may need to analyze research findings, evaluate arguments, or understand social trends.
  • Humanities: Passages in this category often cover subjects like art, philosophy, or cultural studies. Students may need to analyze artistic movements, philosophical ideas, or historical events.

It is important for students to be familiar with these different passage types. Passages in different subjects have to be interpreted in their own way, hence it is best for students to be prepared to write about all the subjects.

What grammar and language-use skills do they test for?

The Digital SAT Reading and Writing section assesses students’ grammar and language-use skills through multiple-choice questions. These questions require identifying and correcting errors in sentences and passages. Here are some common skills tested in this section:

Subject-verb agreement: These questions check if the subject and verb in a sentence match in terms of number and person.

Punctuation: Focus on placing and using punctuation marks correctly, such as commas, semicolons, and apostrophes.

Verb tense and verb agreement: To evaluate a student’s understanding of using the appropriate verb tense in a sentence or passage.

Sentence structure: Students are tested on understanding sentence structure, including proper use of modifiers, consistency, and parallelism.

Pronoun usage and reference: Assess a student’s ability to use pronouns correctly.

Clarity and coherence: Students should be able to improve the clarity and coherence of a sentence or passage by eliminating wordiness, redundancy, or misplaced information.

Word choice and idioms: These questions test a student’s understanding of idiomatic expressions and their ability to choose suitable words that convey accurate meaning.

Plenty of practice with grammar and language-use skills is vital for success in the digital SAT reading and writing section. Students should focus on clearing practice tests to gain confidence in this area.

How to get the score you want on the digital SAT Reading and Writing section

For the 2024 digital SAT version, instead of four sections, the test now has two sections: Reading and Writing, and Math. The reading passages are shorter, with students answering only one question per passage.

Also, now you have more time per question. Additionally, there will no longer be separate subscores for Reading and Writing. Each section – Reading and Writing, and Math – is scored on an 800-point scale.

Students are often stressed out when the SAT comes around. There’s no need to panic, especially if you have had enough time to prepare. Here are some digital SAT reading and writing section tips to help you score high:

1. Manage your time effectively

Set aside a specific amount of time for each passage and question set. Pace yourself to ensure you have enough time to answer all questions. While studying, use a timer to challenge yourself.

2. Actively engage with the passage

Underline key points, make annotations, and summarize main ideas to better understand the text.

3. Preview the questions before reading

By looking over the questions beforehand, you can identify what to focus on while reading, saving time and improving accuracy.

4. Use the process of elimination

When faced with multiple-choice questions, start by eliminating obviously incorrect options to increase your chances of selecting the right answer. This saves time and also the confusion arising from time constraints.

5. Practice writing essays

If you’re attempting the optional essay, practice writing timed essays analyzing different prompts. Develop a clear thesis and support it with evidence. Remember to present it well, with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.

6. Understand the different question types

Familiarize yourself with the various question types, such as main idea, inference, and vocabulary in context. Practice specific strategies for each type to improve efficiency.

7. Brush up on grammar rules

Review common grammar rules and practice identifying and correcting errors in sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, and pronoun usage.

Alongside these digital SAT Reading and Writing section tips, remember that consistent practice and familiarity with the format and content will help improve your performance. Most of all, don’t panic. Sit with a clear, focused mind, and you will find time to be on your side.

Girl studying for the digital SAT Reading and Writing section Image by felicities on Freepik

Final tips for the digital SAT Reading and Writing section

A helpful tip is to glance over the questions before diving into the passage, as this will help you know what parts to pay attention to. Remember, the process of elimination is very handy, and practicing essay writing can also prove beneficial. Being well-acquainted with different types of passages and question formats is crucial – do your research! Consistently practicing and grasping the exam’s structure and content will greatly contribute to achieving a top score in these sections.

For those preparing to take a test, it’s important to remember that you are capable and that you can handle any problem if you stay focused.

  • Well before the exam, take the time to study, prepare, and review the materials.
  • Trust in your abilities and believe in yourself. If one way of thinking is stressing you out, try to look at the problem in a different way.
  • Remember, it’s normal to feel nervous, but try to focus on your strengths and the hard work you’ve put in. Don’t be too critical of yourself.
  • On the day of the test, remember to take deep breaths, stay calm, and approach it with confidence. Good luck!

The big picture

To summarize, in order to excel in the digital SAT reading and writing sections, it is essential to actively read and interact with the passages, effectively manage time, and comprehend question types properly.

Make sure you understand the format of the test. Next, work on expanding your vocabulary and improving your reading comprehension abilities. Reviewing grammar and language usage is also important. Additionally, developing critical thinking skills and practicing effective time management can be beneficial for acing the digital SAT reading and writing section. Finally, consider seeking out online practice materials and tutoring for extra support.

Are you attempting the digital SAT in the near future? No worries – Lessonpal has you covered! We have plenty of SAT prep tutors you can take lessons with right away!

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