Tips to Beat the New Question Type for Reading and Writing


The organization and writing section of the new Digital SAT can initially seem daunting. But don’t worry! With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to approach this question type confidently. Here’s what you need to know.

Overview of the Question Type

The Reading & Writing section test-takers to review a fictitious set of student notes and respond to a question about how to best organize a response based on the notes.

In other words, you’ll be given a set of information and asked to organize the idea that effectively communicates that information to the reader.

You’ll be scored on how well you develop and support your ideas and how well you use language to communicate your ideas.

The Sample Question

While conducting research for an upcoming assignment, a student took the notes shown below:

    • Van Gogh is a Dutch post-impressionist painter.
    • His work has been exhibited in Amsterdam, Paris, London, and other places worldwide.
    • A large number of his works feature emphatic brushstrokes and striking colors.
    • His artwork, Starry Night (1889), was made up of the bright night sky, featuring the striking colored moon and stars.
    • His work named Sunflower (1889) featured a striking vase with colorful sunflowers.
  1. The student’s purpose is to highlight the parallel between the two works. Which of the items below best uses the details provided in the notes to achieve this goal?
  2. A) Starry Night incorporates bright sky night; Sunflower, on the other hand, features a vase with sunflowers.
  3. B) Similar to many of Gogh’s other works, both Starry Night and Sunflower include striking colors; Starry Night incorporates them on the sky, and Cafe Terrace at Night incorporates them on flowers.
  4. C) Gogh’s work, which frequently makes use of striking colors, has been exhibited in many locations worldwide.
  5. D) Gogh exhibited Starry Night in 1889 and Cafe Terrace at Night in 1888.

Strategies for Success

Here are some strategies that will help you master this question type for Digital SAT:

Read the question carefully and make sure you understand what’s being asked of you. This might seem like obvious advice, but it’s worth emphasizing because it can be easy to misread a question and end up going off on a tangent in your essay.

Take a few minutes to skim the notes and get a general sense of the content. What is the main idea? What are the supporting details? This will give you a good starting point for your essay.

Once you’ve read and understood the question, take a few minutes to plan out your answer. This will help you stay focused and organized as you write, leading to a better-organized and more effective response.

Start by brainstorming a list of points. Decide the order in which you want to make those points. You might want to start with your most vital issue first or save it for last to leave a lasting impression on the reader. Either way, make sure each point flows logically from the one before it.

Use concrete examples and evidence from the notes to support your points. Abstract concepts are refined, but including specific examples from the text will make your essay much more convincing (and earn you higher marks!)


The new question type for the SAT and ACT is an evidence-based analysis question. This means that you will be given a passage or excerpt to read, followed by one or more questions about how the author builds their argument. You must use your critical thinking skills to analyze the text and answer the questions. The best way to prepare for this question type is to practice reading critically and answering questions about arguments.

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