Thanks to Miriam Holt for contributing this post. She tutors students in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, both independently and with local tutoring agencies. She has prepared over a hundred students for the SAT in the past six years and humorously admits, "I have come to respect the SAT." This post addresses five SAT tasks that are pertinent to reading and writing. For each task, Miriam describes what she views as the most common types of errors; for each type of error, she offers brief suggestions for instruction. Miriam can be reached through Parliament Tutors. 1. Essay
-Writing an off-topic essay
How to fix it: Students must focus like a laser on the quote in the box and the essay prompt that follows it. Those words must determine the topic of the essay.
-Spending too long on the intro paragraph and shortchanging the body How to fix it: This pitfall can be avoided by starting with the body paragraphs, about a third of the way down the first page, and then adding the conclusion and the introduction in their appropriate spots after the body paragraphs are written.
-Errors in grammar and punctuation
How to fix it: Student must save time at the end to proofread.
-Wandering, disorganized writing
How to fix it: Student must outline to ensure the essay progresses in a clear, well-reasoned way.
-Accidentally proving the other guy's point: Some students set out to write an essay supporting one idea and, while writing it, find themselves making so many concessions to the other side that their essays end up supporting the other side more than their own How to fix it: Student should write the body paragraphs first, evaluate them afterward to figure out what point they prove the best, and let that determine the conclusion of the essay. After writing the conclusion, they should go back and write the intro paragraph, including the thesis statement.
-Mental lock: under pressure, the student...