The digital SAT is a shorter test with only two sections - Reading and Writing and Math. The passages in this section have become much shorter and more concise, thanks to the discrete format of questions. The testing points have also changed as now the test is more bent on checking the reasoning and analytical abilities of students. In this blog, we’ll focus on the Reading and Writing section of the test and also give you some tips to crack it. Let’s dive right into what skill/knowledge will be tested in the Reading and Writing section.
Domains of the digital SAT Reading and Writing section
This section asks questions from four domains:
- Information and Ideas - In this domain, the questions are based on the central idea of the passage given. This domain is further divided into three skill/knowledge or areas in which you will be tested.
- Central ideas and Details - Central ideas questions will ask you to identify the main idea of a text. The main idea can be determined by identifying the key details in that text.
- Command of Evidence - For these questions, you will be given either passage or some quantitative data, and based on it, you will have to answer a question. These types of questions test your ability to interpret data and answer questions based on them.
- Inferences - Based on the text and the context given in it, you will be asked to complete a sentence with the most logical choice. In other words, you will be required to infer the most logical answer from the context given in the passage.
- Craft and Structure - Craft and Structure questions test your ability to answer in-context questions, analyze the structure of a passage, and make reasonable connections between two texts. These questions are all about understanding the information given in the passage and using your English language skills to answer questions. This domain asks questions from three skill/knowledge:
- Words in Context - Here, you will be given a blank and will be asked to choose the most appropriate answer choice based on the contextual information given.
- Text Structure and Purpose - You will either be asked to state the main purpose of the text or will be asked to state the function of an underlined text in a passage. Do not get confused between the main idea questions and purpose questions. Purpose questions ask you the purpose for which the text is written while main idea questions ask the main theme or idea of the text. Recognizing the function of an underlined text means recognizing what role that text plays in the passage.
- Cross-Text Connections - You will be given two texts - Text 1 and Text 2 that discuss a similar topic. You will then be asked questions like how will the author of Text 1 respond to the author of Text 2.
- Expression of Ideas - For Expression of Ideas, you will use your revision skills to improve the effectiveness of a written text or passage. There are two skill/knowledge tested in this domain.
- Rhetorical synthesis - You will be given some notes taken by a student on a particular topic and you will have to make reasonable conclusions from them.
- Transitions - Transitions questions require you to insert the most appropriate transition word that connects two sentences or phrases.
- Standard English Conventions - These questions will test your grammatical and editing skills. You will mainly play around with sentence structure, usage, and punctuation. The questions test these skill/knowledge:
- Boundaries - Boundaries questions have a blank in which you need to fill in the appropriate answer choice with the correct punctuation.
- Form, structure, and sense - Here, you will encounter several types of questions relating to plurals and possessives, subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, verb forms, and subject-modifier placement.
Tips to prepare for the Reading and Writing section of the Digital SAT
- Study and solve official practice tests - Four official practice tests for the Digital SAT have been provided by College Board These four tests are available on the Bluebook software in digital format and you can even download the linear tests. These tests have all types of questions pertaining to the new test along with elaborate answer explanations.
- Practice with additional resources - Apart from the official tests, you can also practice Reading and Writing questions from Vibrant Publishers’ Digital SAT Reading and Writing Practice Questions. This book has 300+ practice questions sorted into their domains and skill/knowledge. This feature will give you targeted practice for each type of question and a Reading and Writing test at the end of the book will help you test your test-readiness. The questions also have comprehensive answer explanations and distractor explanations that logically explain why an option is correct or incorrect.
- Learn to identify the context and the main theme in a passage - Almost all questions on the digital SAT are based on context. Even questions that require you to choose the correct punctuation mark require context. Therefore, practice recognizing the context and the main theme in all texts that you read. The main theme is usually the subject that is being discussed and you can easily identify it. Look for the subject that is being described, criticized, or expanded upon. For example, read this text taken from Jane Austen’s novel, Sense and Sensibility (this passage is taken from a sample test provided by the College Board).
Elinor, this eldest daughter, whose advice was so effectual, possessed a strength of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother, and enabled her frequently to counteract, to the advantage of them all, that eagerness of mind in Mrs. Dashwood which must generally have led to imprudence. She had an excellent heart;—her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them: it was a knowledge which her mother had yet to learn; and which one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught.
Here, the passage is describing Elinor’s qualities like her coolness of judgment, her understanding, and her affectionate nature at a young age which led her to advise her mother on matters. Therefore, the main theme of the passage is Elinor’s maturity at a young age.
- Recognize the question stems to answer questions quickly - SAT questions have a pattern of question stems that they follow. For example, for Central Ideas and Details questions, the question stem is usually “What is the main idea of the text?” or “Which choice best states the main idea of the text?” Studying and learning to recognize question stems can even help you avoid confusion. Questions for Text Structure and Purpose questions ask questions like “Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?” which can be confusing at times as you may think it is asking for the central idea of the passage.
- Work on your vocabulary - Though SAT tests your analytical and reasoning abilities, it also requires you to have a working knowledge of the English language. You have to answer vocabulary questions and therefore, need to have a strong vocabulary. You can improve your vocabulary by reading books, articles, journals, blogs, etc. Mind you that though reading fictional novels is a good way to enhance your vocabulary, reading nonfiction pieces will also greatly help you crack SAT. How and why you ask? Because the digital SAT does not only focus on literature; it includes passages from a variety of domains like science, history, social studies, etc. So, cultivating a habit of reading informative blogs, statistical reports, historical pieces, etc, will exercise your reasoning and analytical abilities.
You can also use tools like flashcards to learn new words, play word games that acquaint you with the meanings of words, and even watch videos in English.
- Brush up on your grammar rules - Apart from working on developing a good vocabulary, brush up on your basic grammar rules. This does not mean that you have to dive deep and learn heavy grammatical rules that can even confuse a good writer. You just need to revisit your school lessons on different parts of speech, tenses, verb forms, punctuation, sentence structures, etc. Knowing basic grammar rules will enable you to quickly answer questions as you will know which option is correct at a glance.
Preparing for the digital SAT test with its new and changed pattern can be daunting. But by focusing on improving your reasoning and analytical abilities and working on your vocabulary and grammar, you can score high. The only way to do this is to practice as much as possible by attempting a variety of practice questions.
You can find a broad range of practice questions on the different domains and skill/knowledge in the Digital SAT Reading and Writing Practice Questions book. You can practice from a pool of 300+ math questions from the Digital SAT Math Practice Questions book. Lastly, to complete the circle of learning, you can also attempt five full-length practice tests in the modular format from the Practice Tests For The Digital SAT book.
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