Rules For Fixing Sentences SAT Writing

The following rules provide a general set of guidelines for the Fixing Sentences portion of the Writing section. While the vast majority of the questions at the beginning and middle of the sections can be answered by applying these rules,

Rules for picking answers:
1) Shorter is better:
Always start by looking at the shortest answer

2) -ING (esp. Being) is BAD
Gerunds create sentence fragments

3) Passive Voice is BAD
Active: I drink the water; Passive: the water is drunk by me
The passive voice makes sentences wordy and awkward.

Major Issues Tested


Coordinating (aka FANBOYS) conjunction:


Coordinating Conjunctions are used to join 2 Independent Clauses:

IC 1: It is very sunny today
IC 2: It is also very cold

Becomes: It is very sunny today, but it is also very cold.

If a comma is used to join two Independent Clauses, the result is what's known as a Comma Splice. Comma splices are always incorrect.

Comma Splice: It is very sunny today, it is also very cold.

Important: When two Independent Clauses that have the same subject are joined with a Coordinating Conjunction without repeating the second subject, no comma is necessary before the Coordinating Conjunction.

Correct: It is very sunny today but also very cold.

Incorrect: It is very sunny today, but also very cold.


Semicolons essentially function exactly like periods. They are used to separate two Independent Clauses when no conjunction is present.

Example: It is very sunny today; it is also very cold.

A semicolon preceding a Coordinating Conjunction is always incorrect.

Incorrect: It is very sunny today; but it is also very cold.

There are, however, 4 words that should always be preceded by a semicolon when used as conjunctions:

1) however
2) therefore
3) moreover
4) consequently

To be successful on the Fixing Sentences section, you must therefore know 3 ways of combining Independent Clauses:

Independent Clause + Independent Clause

IC: 1: I woke up.
IC 2: I went to school.

1) I woke up, and I went to school.
2) I woke up; I went to school.
3) I woke up and went to school.

Joining Independent Clauses and Dependent Clauses

A Dependent Clause is a clause that contains a Subordinating Conjunction. Common examples of Subordinating Conjunctions include:

Before, After, Because, When, Whenever, Wherever, Until, Unless

When dealing with Dependent Clauses, the need for a comma depends on where the DC is found in the sentence.

IC + DC = No comma between clauses

DC + IC = Comma between clauses

IC: I went to school.
DC: After I ate breakfast.


I went to school (no comma) after I ate breakfast.


After I ate breakfast, I went to school.

Important: There is, however, a category of "strong" Subordinating Conjunctions that are routinely preceded by commas. These include (Al)though, Even Though, While, and Even if.

Example: I went to school today, even though I wasn't feeling well.

Dangling Modifiers

Ex: Having resigned for personal reasons, the ambassador's successor will probably be named tomorrow

Who resigned?

The ambassador.

Therefore, the ambassador MUST be the first words after the comma

Having resigned for personal reasons, the ambassador plans to name his successor tomorrow


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