You should be mechanical in checking every Error ID question for the following.


Start here.  If there is a verb underlined in the sentence, you need to check:

  1. Subject/Verb Agreement.  The SAT’s favorite ways to trick you include:
    1. Prepositional phrases (The display case of trophies at the top of the stairs in my father’s house is very old.)
    2. Appositives (The display case, an enclosure of glass and wood in which my father showcases his many awards, is very old.)
    3. Subject after verb (Hidden in the back of the display case are my father’s high school report cards.)
    4. Compound subjects (A baseball, a bat, and a catcher’s glove were found in the player’s closet.)
  2. Verb Tense.  Often multiple tenses are appropriate for a particular sentence, and even though you might be able to imagine a different tense, the one that’s used is not wrong. Make sure, however, that the SAT isn’t using the present tense to discuss an event that very clearly happened in the past (i.e. a scientific discovery made in 1880). Also, make sure the tense plays nicely with the other, non-underlined verbs in the sentence.



If the verbs are ok, you need to check all underlined pronouns.

  1. Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement.  Common tricks:
    1. The use of “their” when the antecedent is singular (Every coach wants his or her team to win.)
    2. The use of non-personal pronouns for people (The book was about the lives of three teenagers, all of which whom grew up in New Orleans.)



There are two very commonly tested parallelism rules, and then some miscellaneous things that you might see once in a while.

  1. Lists.  If a sentence is listing two or more things, make sure every element in the list is parallel in every way.
    1. Verb conjugations (There are two ways Rick knows to kill zombies: to shoot them in the head or to set them on fire.)
    2. Mixing nouns and verbs (My favorite things are pizza, dogs, and going hiking hikes
    3. Preposition use (A good vocabulary will take you far in your career, your education, and in your personal life.)
  2. Comparisons.  Only like things can be compared to each other. For more info on this, see this post.
    1. Possession (Even though he is only a shoe salesman, Justin’s income is higher than that of his boss because he’s also an underground street fighter on the weekends.)
  3. Miscellaneous  Here are some other things you might see.
    1. One vs. You (Before you go skydiving, you should do thorough equipment inspections.)
    2. Neither/nor (I enjoy neither hiking nor biking.)
    3. Either/or (I’d be happy with either mini-golf or bowling)
    4. Not only/but also (My boss was happy that not only did I increase sales in my district, but I also kept my company car spic and span.)

Comments (13)


I got a stinkin 6 essay, which lowered my score to a STUPID 590. so I’m thinking – this could be the place to REALLY improve my score. I’m wondering … what kind of questions fall under the “difficult questions” in each section? Is it just random?

I heard from someone that if I just improved my essay to a 10 or so, my score would jump to around 700 … sooo … I’m reviewing grammar right now but where should I focus?

oh shoot. it didn’t work. LOL.

basically i missed 3 in the improving sentences (all difficult), 2 in the identifying sentence errors (1 skipped) and 1 medium improving paragraphs.

Yo. Just pulling a random scoring table (blue book test 2) shows that a jump from 6 to 10 on your essay would bring you from 590 to 660. Not a bad jump, but that’s still not 700. 

I’ve got some advice on how to write better essays, but if your major concern is points, you’re probably better off continuing to work on the multiple choice. There are more points to be had there, and they’re easier to grab. 

As for what’s “difficult,” like math sections, writing sections tend to cluster the toughest questions towards the ends of the question types. So, on a typical 35 question section, you hardest Improving Sentences questions will be 9, 10, and 11, your hardest Error ID questions will be 27-28-29. etc. There are exceptions to that, of course, but that’s the general setup.


i was mostly wondering about the type of questions — like does it focus on a few concepts that trip students up, or is it all random? 

Oh, I see. The toughest errors to spot are usually the random idioms and/or diction errors that come up very rarely, but they’re pretty good at writing very difficult verb agreement questions, too.

More than any other section of the SAT, you’ll find that with practice, the writing section really seems formulaic, though. If you do enough practice questions, even the “difficult” ones start to seem easy. 🙂

okay. i’ll go ahead and do a writing section sometime soon, and then move on to another test. i’ll leave all the essays out until i get home and devote some time to learning how to write them … 

isn’t there a list somewhere that has a whole list of all writing mc questions, and what section they fall under?

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