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Boundaries | Overview

A guide to "boundaries" questions on the digital SAT

What are "boundaries" 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:
Boundaries questions focus on how phrases, clauses, and sentences are linked together in written English.

Which Standard English conventions will be tested in boundaries questions?

Boundaries questions focus on these Standard English conventions:
You may be asked to link clauses using coordination, subordination, or end punctuation.
You may be asked to format and punctuate supplemental information provided within a sentence.
You'll need to know when and where to use (and not use) different punctuation marks. Correct punctuation is essential for all boundaries questions.
To learn more about these conventions, check out their corresponding lessons in our grammar practice unit!

How to approach boundaries 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. Where does the blank appear? Within a sentence? Between clauses?
Compare the choices. What changes from choice to choice? Are conjunctions added or removed? Is different punctuation 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 is being tested.
For example, if the blank comes between two independent clauses, and the choices offer a mix of commas and conjunctions, we should focus on avoiding errors with linking clauses.
If we can narrow our focus to the specific convention being tested, we'll have less to think about. This can save 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 grammar rules we identified as the focus, 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 boundaries questions? Keep practicing, and check out our lessons for each of the grammar conventions below.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user krrishkiranlala2007
    Any tips to get beyond mid 600's in the reading and writing section?
    (22 votes)
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    • starky ultimate style avatar for user WhiteFox
      I think the best advice I have would be to spend a lot of time reading outside of your SAT practice, especially reading articles and older books, because just getting used to reading a lot will improve your reading speed, concentration, and understanding. A lot of the literature sections they use on the test are either articles about science and research or segments from older literature\ classics, so reading more of these will boost your comprehension of the reading on the test. Personally this helped me a ton. You can also go and take just the English parts of old SAT tests to help improve your understanding. Hope this helps! You’ve got this!
      (100 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user leo.lea3223
    Guys, is the bluebook exam as hard as the real SAT exam or..?
    (18 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Preeta Senthilkumar
    My biggest mistake in the Practice Test was not knowing where to put the semicolon and where to put the comma. And I still don't know where.
    (15 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Omar Suleiman
    Any tips to get beyond mid 600's in the reading and writing section?
    (8 votes)
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    • mr pants pink style avatar for user Lorelei Stahl
      Understand the Test: Review the official SAT website for format details.

      Build Vocabulary: Use Vocabulary.com or Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary.

      Practice Reading: Use SAT practice questions from The College Board.

      Annotate Passages: Underline key points to stay focused.

      Grammar and Writing: Use Purdue OWL for guides and exercises.

      Time Management: Practice with a timer and official SAT practice tests.

      Seek Feedback: Get input on your essays for improvement.

      Stay Positive and Persistent: Consider resources like "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Carol S. Dweck.

      I hope this helps!
      (14 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Tamyra Smith
    Are these steps always necessary when answering questions or reading?
    (6 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user alisater14
    Is there a difficult or easy second module in the actual SAT, depending on the number of your correct answers in first module, or is it only present in the practice test?
    (5 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user einsteinsnrmc2
      *The test is adaptive, so yes, if you answer a certain number of questions in your first module correct, the second module will be harder, but if you don't reach that number, your second module will be easier..but it'll be hard to get a high score if our second module is easier(This applies for both the Maths and English section)*
      (8 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user rodger3223
    think the best advice I have would be to spend a lot of time reading outside of your SAT practice, especially reading articles and older books, because just getting used to reading a lot will improve your reading speed, concentration, and understanding. A lot of the literature sections they use on the test are either articles about science and research or segments from older literature\ classics, so reading more of these will boost your comprehension of the reading on the test. Personally this helped me a ton. You can also go and take just the English parts of old SAT tests to help improve your understanding. Hope this helps! You’ve got this!
    (6 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • mr pants purple style avatar for user CL16
    are all the explanations and questions same for foundation medium and advanced?
    (5 votes)
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  • aqualine tree style avatar for user rader payton
    the best advice would be to spend a lot of time reading and doing random math problems
    (5 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user naveedahsan102
    do i need to get a graphic calculator for dsat?
    do i even need a physical calculator?
    (3 votes)
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