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PSAT Writing & Language Test: Question Types Overview

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Knowing what types of questions are on the PSAT Writing and Language test makes it easier to prepare for the exam. In this lesson, we will go over the different types of questions that make up the 44 PSAT Writing and Language exam questions.

Background

Worried about the PSAT Writing and Language exam? Well, you don't need to be! This lesson will give you all of the information you need to know about each question type seen on the PSAT Writing and Language test. The PSAT Writing and Language test has five different types of questions: command of evidence, words in context, subject area analysis, expression of ideas, and standard English conventions that make up the 44 questions. It's important to note that some questions test multiple areas. Let's take a look at each one so you can be as prepared as possible for the exam.

Command of Evidence

The PSAT tests you on your command of evidence by asking you to improve passages. For example, you may be asked to improve a passage by selecting an answer that adds supportive detail to bolster the current passage's claim. Here is a question that evaluates a test taker's command of evidence:

Question: The writer is considering deleting the italicized sentence. Should the sentence be kept or deleted?

Passage:

According to the American Heart Association, walking provides numerous benefits related to health and well-being. Members of the Chamber of Commerce might share suggestions about designing transportation and parking facilities to support local businesses.

Choices:

A. Kept, because it provides supporting evidence on the benefits of walking.

B. Kept, because it provides additional information.

C. Deleted, because it blurs the paragraph's focus on the community stakeholders with whom transportation planners work.

D. Delete, because it doesn't provide specific evidence to support the benefits of walking argument.

The correct answer is C.

Words in Context

Words in context is a popular question type, and many PSAT questions fall under this category and ask you to improve a passage or sentence by selecting the best words or phrases that fit the selection. You may be asked to improve the sentence's tone, style, or syntax. Here is an example question:

Question: What phrase is the best replacement for the italicized phrase?

Passage:

If analysis of the traffic count indicates that there is more traffic than the current road as it is designed at this time can efficiently accommodate, the transportation planner might recommend widening the road to add another lane.

Choices:

A. No change

B. current design of the road right now

C. road as it is currently designed

D. current design of the road

The correct answer is D. Choice D is concise and effective language. It avoids redundancy as well.

Subject Area Analysis

The PSAT tests your ability to analyze passages in other subjects such as science, history, literature, and social studies through subject area analysis questions. You are responsible for choosing an answer that improves the quality of the passage. Here's an example:

Question: Which choice most effectively combines the sentences at the italicized portion?

Passage:

During his career, Kingman exhibited his work internationally. He garnered much acclaim.

Choices:

A. internationally, and Kingman also garnered

B. internationally; from exhibiting, he garnered

C. internationally but garnered

D. internationally, garnering

The correct answer is D because it logically and concisely connects the sentences together.

Expression of Ideas

Expression of ideas questions ask you to evaluate a passage's set up and delivery. You must choose from certain words or structural adjustments that improve the passage. Here's an example of an expression of ideas question:

Question: Which choice results in the most effective transition to the information that follows in the paragraph?

Passage:

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