The writing skills section for the PSAT includes the following three types of multiple-choice questions that also appear on the SAT II: Writing Test.
These questions test your ability to express ideas effectively in standard written English, to recognize faults in usage and structure, and to use language with sensitivity to meaning. Test question do not ask you to define or use grammatical terms and do not test spelling or capitalization.
- Identifying Sentence Errors
- Improving Sentences
- Improving Paragraphs
The directions for questions of identifying sentence errors read like this:
An example question:
Directions: The following sentences test your knowledge of grammar, usage, word choice, and idiom.|
Some sentences are correct.
No sentence contains more than one error.
You will find that the error, if there is one, is underlined and lettered. Elements of the sentence that are not underlined will not be changed. In choosing answers, follow the requirements of standard written English.
If there is an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer sheet.
If there is no error, fill in oval E.
As a documentaryAphotographer for the Farm Security Administration during the DepressionB, Dorothea Lange recordedCthe hardships and desperation of America's dispossesed.D No error.E
There is no error in the above sentence, so the correct choice is E.
When you work on identifying sentence errors, be sure to
The directions for questions of improving sentences read like this:
- Read the entire sentence carefully but quickly.
- Don't too much time searching for errors because there are not necessarily errors. Select E if you believe the sentence is correctly written.
- Spend less time on identifying sentence errors questions. The other types questions (improving sentences and improving paragraphs) will probably take more time. Mark questions that seem hard for you and return to them later if you still have time.
An example question:
Directions: In each of the following sentences, some part or all of the sentence is underlined. Below each sentence you will find five ways of phrasing the underlined part. Select the answer that produces the most effective sentence, one that is clear and exact, without awkwardness or ambiguity, and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer sheet. In choosing answer, follow the requirements of standard written English. Choose the answer that best expresses the meaning of the original sentence.|
Answer (A) is always the same as the underlined part. Choose answer (A) if you think the original sentence needs no revision.
Certain shipwrecks have a particular fascination for those people which have a belief in finding the treasure in them.
(A) which have a belief in finding the treasure in them
(B) that belief there is treasure to be found in them
(C) who believe they hold treasure and that they can find it
(D) who believe that there is treasure to be found in them
(E) who believe about treasure to be found in them
The correct choice is (D).
When you work on improving sentences, be sure to
The directions for questions of improving paragraphs read like this:
- Read the entire sentence quickly to determine its overall meaning.
- Make sure that your answer makes sense in the context as a whole.
- Choose the best answer even if you can imagine another possible choice.
- Skip the questions that look hard for you and return to them when you still have time.
Directions: The following passage is an early draft of an essay. Some parts of the passage need to be rewritten. Read the passage and select the best answers for the questions that follow. Some questions are about particular sentences or parts of sentences and ask you to improve sentence structure and word choice. Other questions refer to parts of the essay or the entire essay and ask you to consider organization and development. In making your decisions, follow the conventions of standard written English. After you have chosen your answer, fill in the corresponding oval on your answer sheet.
The improving paragraphs questions look like critical reading questions, but focus on testing your writing skill, not your reading skill. Be sure that your answer makes sense in the context as a whole.
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