OK, so as all of us (should) know, the writing portion of the SAT is dominantly grammar. I know some, especially those who have learned English as their second language, have trouble with this portion of the SAT. I've always found grammar to be extremely easy, so I decided to put together a guide on how to tackle the SAT Writing grammr portion.
This is just my method of intrepreting grammar questions. This way may not necessarily work with everyone.
I may use informal grammar in this guide to make it more reader-friendly. I typed this up quickly, so I'll go back and edit/revise if necessary.
I've heard a lot of my friends talk about how they get confused about when a sentence is grammatically correct or not. Oftentimes, even a grammatically correct sentence may sound awkward, leading many to mark this "awkward phrase" as the error. In other cases, a phrase may "sound good", but it's not. Sometimes, the awkward phrase is indeed incorrectly written or the "good-sounding" phrase may indeed be right.
But how can you tell?
Parts of Speech:
The test is almost all about the parts of speech and your ability to recognize when they match and when they dont'. It's like a puzzle, in which only certain combinations work. We all know a noun can't modify an adjective. There's no way, but an adjective can certainly modify a noun. Understanding which "combinations" of the parts of speech work is the key to success on SAT grammar.
So, how do I do it?
The best way to handle the grammar portion IMO is to read like a machine. lol now i know that sounds kind of weird, but let me explain.
When you read a grammar question, forget all meaning of the sentence. As you read each word, read the word for what it is (noun, adjective, adverb, etc), not for what it means or connotes.
When my doctor suggested I buy new medicine pills, I gasped at the ridiculously high prices of the ones he showed me.
As you read this question, what went through your mind? A doctor? A patient? Medicine Pills? High Prices? Of course you did, because that's what the sentence is about. But for the SAT Writing grammar portion, you must read differently.
When I said you must read like a machine, what I meant is you must analyze each word for what it is, not for what it means. Do not interpret the meaning of the sentence.
Don't think about the fact that there is a doctor or anything else. Focus on WHAT the words are (almost to the point where you don't know what the sentence itself is saying).
Of course, reading this way will make your reading speed decline, as you have to match every word with its part of speech. But the time limits shouldn't be a problem once you get the hang of "grammar reading".
When we read, the actual meanings of the words tend to create images in our mind of the event or situation the sentence describes. Whether or not you realize it, this distracts you from the main purpose of the questin: to find the grammatical error. Most words have distracting connotations, tones, etc that will only hinder us. For tests such AP Lang. and AP Lit., paying attention to these are important. For SAT Writing, it's useless.
As you read each word, phrase, and clause, keep alert for idiom errors, subject-verb disagreements, misplaced modifiers, etc. Of course, you must study these beforehand. This guide is meant to help those who have already studied all the material and feel they know what there is to know, but they still miss questions.
How to confidently know you have the right answer:
After doing everything up to now, if you still have not spotted any grammatical errors, don't assume there's no error yet! Sometimes, what the SAT test will do is have a grammatically correct sentence, but an illogical event, often created by the use of the wrong word. Grammatically, the sentence structure and every phrase is correct, but inconsistency between the logic of the sentence exists. This may be caused by word choice (e.g. affect v. effect) or just simply a word that doesn't work (e.g., using "enervated" to describe someone being excited)
List of key things to study for SAT grammar (in no particular order):
Word choice (e.g., affect v. effect or compliment v. complement)
NOTE: I know this sounds a little weird at first, but just follow the steps and your score should improve. (1) Ignore sentence meaning. (2) Peruse carefully for grammatical errors (3) Double Check (4) Triple Check! (5) If no errors, look for logical inconsistency (6) If everything looks good, briefly skim the sentence again to check for grammar or logic issues AGAIN (7) Still nothing? Good, go mark "No error"