Redesigned PSAT Writing and Language Test

LSAT Writing Sample
Getty Images | Nick Veasy

In the fall of 2015, the College Board issued its new Redesigned PSAT to students across the country. The Redesigned PSAT test looks quite different from the old PSAT, as it was changed to mirror the current SAT, which was first administered in March of 2016! One of the major changes was the retiring of the Writing test. It was replaced by the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section, of which, the Writing and Language test is a major part.

This page explains what you can expect to find from that portion when you sit for the exam.

Want to know even more about the SAT's redesign? Check out Redesigned SAT 101 for all the facts. 

Format of the PSAT Writing and Language Test

  • 4 complete passages = 4 sections
  • 44 multiple-choice questions = 11 questions per passage
  • 35 minutes = 8 minutes 45 seconds per passage if you'd like to plan your time. You will not be given only 8 minutes 45 seconds per passage – you may distribute the 35 minutes any way you'd like.  

Passage Information

What exactly will you be reading on this Writing and Language test? Well, first, each of the four sections' passages will be between 400 - 450 words for a total of 1700, so each is a manageable portion of text. One of the passages will be from a career perspective. Another text will relate to History or Social Studies. The third passage will relate to Humanities and the fourth will relate to Science.

You'll also see one or more graphics in one or more of the test sections. In addition, the purposes of each passage will vary somewhat. One or two of the passages will make an argument; one or two will inform or explain; and one will be a nonfiction narrative.

So, if you're a visual learner, here is an imagined example of what your Writing and Language test could look like:

  • Section 1: A 425-word argument passage about the need for diversity in the workplace. 1 chart showing the percentages of ethnicities in healthcare. 11 questions
  • Section 2: A 410-word passage explaining Caesar August's reign. 11 questions
  • Section 3: A 430-word passage arguing for an increase in nutrient-rich foods in cafeterias of Michigan schools. 1 table describing the daily nutrition of available lunches. 11 questions
  • Section 4: A 435-word passage telling a story about a specific doctor's use of robotics in her surgical procedures. 11 questions

Writing and Language Skills Tested

You'll have 44 questions; might as well figure out the skills those questions are designed to measure! On this exam, you should be able to do the following:

Development:

  1. Add, revise, or retain central ideas, main claims, counterclaims, topic sentences, and the like to structure text and convey arguments, information, and ideas.
  2. Add, revise, or retain information and ideas (e.g., details, facts, statistics) intended to support claims or points in text clearly and effectively.
  3. Add, revise, retain, or delete information and ideas in text for the sake of relevance to topic and purpose.
  4. Relate information presented quantitatively in such forms as graphs, charts, and tables to information presented in text.

    Organization:

    1. Revise text as needed to ensure that information and ideas are presented in the most logical order.
    2. Revise text as needed to improve the beginning or ending of a text or paragraph to ensure that transition words, phrases, or sentences are used effectively to connect information and ideas.

    Effective Language Use:

    1. Revise text as needed to improve the exactness or content appropriateness of word choice.
    2. Revise text as needed to improve the economy of word choice (i.e., to eliminate wordiness and redundancy).
    3. Revise text as necessary to ensure consistency of style and tone within a text or to improve the match of style and tone to purpose.
    4. Use various sentence structures to accomplish needed rhetorical purposes.

    Sentence Structure:

    1. Recognize and correct grammatically incomplete sentences (e.g., rhetorically inappropriate fragments and run-ons).
    1. Recognize and correct problems in coordination and subordination in sentences.
    2. Recognize and correct problems in parallel structure in sentences.
    3. Recognize and correct problems in modifier placement (e.g., misplaced or dangling modifiers).
    4. Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb tense, voice, and mood within and between sentences.
    5. Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in pronoun person and number within and between sentences.

    Conventions of Usage:

    1. Recognize and correct pronouns with unclear or ambiguous antecedents.
    2. Recognize and correct cases in which possessive determiners (its, your, their), contractions (it’s, you’re, they’re), and adverbs (there) are confused with each other.
    3. Recognize and correct lack of agreement between pronoun and antecedent.
    4. Recognize and correct lack of agreement between subject and verb.
    5. Recognize and correct lack of agreement between nouns.
    6. Recognize and correct instances in which a word or phrase is confused with another (e.g., accept/except, allusion/illusion).
    7. Recognize and correct cases in which unlike terms are compared.
    8. Recognize and correct cases in which a given expression is inconsistent with standard written English.

    Conventions of Punctuation:

    1. Recognize and correct inappropriate uses of ending punctuation in cases in which the context makes the intent clear.
    2. Correctly use and recognize and correct inappropriate uses of colons, semicolons, and dashes to indicate sharp breaks in thought within sentences.
    3. Recognize and correct inappropriate uses of possessive nouns and pronouns as well as differentiate between possessive and plural forms.
    1. Correctly use and recognize and correct inappropriate uses of punctuation (commas and sometimes semicolons) to separate items in a series.
    2. Correctly use punctuation (commas, parentheses, dashes) to set off nonrestrictive and parenthetical sentence elements as well as recognize and correct cases in which restrictive or essential sentence elements are inappropriately set off with punctuation.
    3. Recognize and correct cases in which unnecessary punctuation appears in a sentence.

    Preparing for the Redesigned SAT Writing and Language Test

    Sample questions to help students prepare are available on collegeboard.org.

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    Your Citation
    Roell, Kelly. "Redesigned PSAT Writing and Language Test." ThoughtCo, Dec. 5, 2016, thoughtco.com/redesigned-psat-writing-and-language-test-3211532. Roell, Kelly. (2016, December 5). Redesigned PSAT Writing and Language Test. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/redesigned-psat-writing-and-language-test-3211532 Roell, Kelly. "Redesigned PSAT Writing and Language Test." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/redesigned-psat-writing-and-language-test-3211532 (accessed May 23, 2018).