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Form, Structure, and Sense | Overview

A guide to "form, structure, and sense" questions on the digital SAT

What are "form, structure, and sense" questions?

On the SAT Reading and Writing Test, some questions will present you with a short passage that contains a blank. The question will then ask you to complete the text in a way that conforms to the conventions of Standard English.
On the SAT, these Standard English conventions are broken down into two categories:
Form, structure, and sense questions focus on the rules surrounding various parts of speech (nouns, verbs, etc.) and their usage.

Which Standard English conventions will be tested in form, structure, and sense questions?

Form, structure, and sense questions focus on these Standard English conventions:
To learn more about these conventions, check out the grammar guides, lesson videos, and exercises in the grammar practice unit!

How to approach form, structure, and sense questions

Because each question will focus on a specific convention of Standard English, it's a great first step to identify which grammar rule is being tested.
Here's one way to do that:
Step 1: Investigate the blank
Read the text closely. What's missing that the blank needs to provide? A noun phrase? A verb phrase? Something else?
Compare the choices. What changes from choice to choice? Are verbs conjugated differently? Are different pronouns used?
Any patterns we can identify will be useful in the next step.
Step 2: Find the focus
Based on our observations in the previous step, we should be able to identify which Standard English convention(s) is being tested.
For example, if the main difference between the choices is verb conjugation, we should be focused on avoid errors in verb forms and in subject-verb agreement.
If we can narrow our focus to just the convention(s) being tested, we'll have less to think about. This can save us both time and brainpower.
Step 3: Eliminate the obvious errors
Now it's time to take a closer look at the choices!
Plug each choice into the blank, and read the passage through. Keeping in mind the focus grammar rules, eliminate any choice that creates an obvious error.
Once we eliminate choices that create errors, we'll be left with only one remaining choice. We can select it with confidence!

Learn more:

Want to sharpen your skills on form, structure and sense questions? Keep practicing, and check out our lessons for each of the grammar conventions below.

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