About the PSAT Writing & Language Test

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  • 0:02 PSAT Writing
  • 0:50 Question Types
  • 2:11 Strategy
  • 3:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

In this lesson, learn what you'll see on the Writing & Language Test on the PSAT and get some tips for cracking it. It's not like English class, so it's best to be prepared!

PSAT Writing

Have you ever taken a writing test that didn't actually involve any writing? It sounds pretty strange, but that's exactly what you'll see on the PSAT!

Because the PSAT is a standardized test, every question has to have one objectively right answer, so there's no way the test can cover subjective things, like style. Instead of actually making you write anything, the PSAT Writing & Language Test measures how well you know the formal rules of written English. Think more subjects and verbs, less plot structure and thesis statements.

The unfamiliarity can make the test a little off-putting, so it's best to know exactly what you'll be facing before you actually have to tackle it. In this lesson, you'll get an overview of the PSAT Writing & Language Test, including question types and how to approach them strategically.

Question Types

On the PSAT Writing & Language Test, you'll answer 44 questions in just 35 minutes. That's less than 1 minute per question, so you'll have to work fast.

All the questions will be based on written passages. You'll get several long passages. Each passage will have sections of the text underlined. The questions will ask you about the underlined sections or about entire sentences in the passage. You'll have to answer questions about standard English grammar, organization, rhetoric, and language use.

For example, you might have to...

  • Correct grammar and punctuation errors
  • Combine sentences or separate one sentence into two
  • Rearrange sentences within a paragraph
  • Add or delete sentences

Some of the passages will also have graphs and charts that go with them. You might have to answer questions based on information in the graphs and charts, but you won't have to do a lot of complicated math or crazy calculations. This is a writing test; the math has its own section!

You won't have to answer any direct questions about grammar rules. Instead, you'll have to apply those rules to the passages.

All the questions are multiple-choice. Each question will have four answers. Usually, the question will give you three options for changing the passage plus an option for leaving it the way it is. 'No change' is just as common as any other answer.


On the PSAT Writing & Language Test, the following strategies can help you:

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