Beginning in March of 2005, the SAT Reasoning Test has a new writing section. The SAT writing questions take up 60 minutes of the test and are delivered in two sections, a 25-minute essay, and a 35-minute multiple choice section.
- Essay - The essay is treated as a first draft. Spelling and punctuation errors should not impact the score of the essay unless they are so pervasive that they impact the reader's ability to understand the essay. The student will be presented with a prompt, a quotation or short passage, which they will then use to develop a well thought-out essay.
- Multiple choice questions - The writing multiple choice questions deal with identifying errors, improving sentences, and improving paragraphs. There are 49 multiple choice questions in the writing section of the SAT.
SAT Score for Writing
The SAT Score for the writing section is more complicated. First, the student will receive an SAT score for the writing section as a whole on the 200 to 800 scale. In addition, the student will receive two sub scores. The first sub score is for the essay. The second sub score is for the multiple choice part of the writing test.
- Essay sub score: This will be scored on a 2 to 12 scale. A score of 2 means that the essay is "fundamentally lacking". A score of 12 is outstanding.
- Multiple choice sub score: This will be scored on a 20 to 80 scale.
How Is the Essay Scored?
The student written essay will be scored by trained high school and college teachers with classroom experience. Each essay will be scored separately by two readers. They will be treating the written essay as a whole and looking at the student's ability to develop, organize, express and support ideas. They will also be looking at sentence structure and word choice. As mentioned above, the essay will be treated as a first draft and some spelling and punctuation mistakes will be tolerated without an impact on the score. The essay represents one third of the total SAT score for the writing section.