Intro to Sentence Structure

Chris Lele
Lesson by Chris Lele
Magoosh Expert
Learn More About Magoosh SAT
Welcome to the writing passage for the new SAT. This is a slightly different section than anything we've seen before on the SAT. It's sort of like the writing on the ACT. In fact, it's very similar. But if you're not familiar with that, it's good to tell you that you are going to be dealing with sort of this Frankenstein monster.

It's a cross between the old SAT paragraph that had some grammatical mistakes and a full-on reading comprehension passage. You won't actually have to answer any comprehension questions, but it's as though you're really reading an entire passage to figure out the context and be able to figure out which sentences belong in which part of the actual essay. So it can get quite complicated.

And what we're going to talk about here after this intro slide is approaches to this new question type, but for now, high overview. Four passages, 11 prompts each, 44 questions, that's a lot of reading. Each question is going to contain four answer choices. For those of you transitioning from the old SAT, that's probably a good thing. That means one answer choice fewer.

But, or and, I should add most questions will also have the answer choice, no change, so you're going to actually be reading not quite as much per question. Again, not all of the 44 questions will have no change as an option, but it's nice knowing it's there. In a way, it makes only three answers for you to read through per question, but, of course, the bad news is you have a lot to read through, 350 to 450 words.

They tend to be usually closer to the 450 than the 350 words. Finally, the only reason I'm adding this is because this is a standardized test and they do things in a very similar format. For instance, you have 11 prompts here, four passages. This is always the same. What's also the same?

They will take something from social sciences, so you could be reading about traffic patterns, someone's writing about something like that, or sciences, where they get pretty hard core with DNA. Personal narratives. These ones aren't too bad. It's just someone writing about their experience.

And for some reason, they've really chosen or focused on this business and career. So they could be written in a third-person note. These are new jobs opening up or someone kind of combine here on personal narrative writing about their business experience. So why this is important is if you find out that you're better at some of these than the other ones, well, two things, you can focus on making your weaknesses stronger, so if your weak at science, let's focus on that.

But you can also know which ones to do in terms of order. So if you're running out of time and you encounter that science passage towards the end, the second to last one, you may want to look at the very last of the four passages. Because if you're good at business and careers, because those ones don't tend to be that difficult, then you might want to do those questions first.

Okay. So we're talking already strategy. And there will be one graph-related question per section, not per passage. I know a lot of people freak out about this, so go to the lessons there. But in terms of strategy, strategy is big. And that's why this approach I'm going to talk to you about I think will help you.

This is my theory, my hypothesis. But the best way of dealing with this passage is as follows. But I may be wrong. And so what you guys are going to do is apply what you learn in this video and try it out and see if it works. If it doesn't, then you can change back to one of these methods.

So I'm going to show you three approaches, and then, of course, support one of them. Number one, read the entire passage first. That means you sit there, you read all 450 words, and then you do the questions relating to the entire passage, of course. Now, the cons of this. It's not a reading comprehension passage, meaning you don't actually have to read everything and understand every part and how they go together the way you would with a reading comp passage.

So you don't have to do that. And it does waste too much time when you read the entire passage. You may get a little bit bored as we inevitably do. And you're already reading so much on this new SAT, so waste time makes you even more tired. But there are some pros.

You will have an overall sense of the passage. You've read the entire thing. You're not just opening up the book and diving into the questions, which is the second approach. Don't read the passage at all. Just do the questions.

Cons, you'll miss the big picture questions. There are big picture questions, not reading comprehension per se, but the way that sentences go together and transition between paragraphs. And sometimes there's even a question asking you does this paragraph even make sense here or should we move it before the third paragraph. So you'll miss out on those, so that's important, but it will save you a lot of time at first.

My hypothesis, what I've noticed with students, is when they use this method, they spend a lot of time rereading, and they don't really know which part to reread. And sometimes they try to start from the beginning once they realize they need to reread more of it or read it for the first time really. And they start from the beginning and then they realize that they didn't, they read all the stuff that was unnecessary, and etc., etc., so they get lost in the passage when they actually have to go back and find the answer to one of these big picture questions.

So it is though useful, and again going back to strategies, if you're running out of time, this is a great approach. You definitely want to use this. Last passage, get as many questions right as you can. Do the ones that don't deal with big picture issues, just small grammatical punctuation things.

Do those questions. Don't read the passage. That approach too is great. Of course, there's Approach 3. And this is it. Read each paragraph.

And then do the questions relating to that paragraph. So you're going to read paragraph one. There's two questions in there. Do those two questions. Move on to the next paragraph. If there are four questions in the next paragraph, great.

You've got to read the entire paragraph first, then do those four questions. So this is not quite as fast as reading the passage, because you're going to have to stop, you know, go do the actual questions. But what you'll notice is transitions within the paragraphs, transitions between the paragraphs, and that's going to be very helpful for the big picture questions.

And you will have enough context to understand a lot of these questions, the big picture ones. You'll get a better sense of these transitions within sentences as well exactly what the author is saying in the paragraph. And I think this is what's going to be so helpful, is that the test is really focusing on the paragraph meaning, not the entire passage meaning the way that a reading comp passage would be.

So, again, my hypothesis is this is the best way to do it. And, of course, when you go back to those questions dealing with big picture ideas, you won't have to reread as much of the paragraph or the passage even. You'll know where to go and what to read. So take away from all of this is experiment. And I want you to experiment with this paragraph approach, approach number 3.

Read a paragraph. Do the questions relating to that paragraph. Go on to the next paragraph. It may at first be weird. You're not used to it and that's fine. That's what I expect.

So I want you to try it out on at least three different passages. And don't do it just back to back to back. Your brain needs time to learn, to rest, to heal, to make those new synaptic connections. And so a good thing is try it out over the course of a few days, spread out your practice, do passage, say on Monday, one passage.

Try this approach. Then on Tuesday, try it again. Then maybe skip a day Wednesday, and on Thursday do a third passage. Try this approach and see if you feel more comfortable if you have a better sense of the passage and if you're getting more questions right. Because if you are, then this is an awesome approach, and I think it will work for you.

Experiment. But if it doesn't, then try one of the other approaches and see which one is better for you. And I think you're going to find, amongst these three approaches, one that works magic. My hope though, of course, is the paragraph approach, but we will see.

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