SAT Grammar cheat sheet

SAT Grammar cheat sheet. Explore our ultimate education quick reference for SAT Grammar.

Maximize your SAT Writing and Language Test score with our comprehensive SAT Grammar Cheat Sheet. It covers essential grammar rules, punctuation, sentence structure, and strategy tips, along with practice questions and additional resources for in-depth study. Perfect for quick reviews and deep dives alike, this cheat sheet is your go-to guide for mastering SAT grammar.

Grammar Rules

Subject-Verb Agreement

Ensure the subject and verb agree in number (singular/plural). If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular; if the subject is plural, the verb must be plural.

  • Example: "She writes" (singular) vs. "They write" (plural).

Verb Tense Consistency

Maintain the same tense throughout a sentence or connected sentences unless there's a specific reason to change.

  • Example: Incorrect: "She was cooking and eats dinner." Correct: "She was cooking and ate dinner."

Pronoun Agreement

Pronouns must agree with their antecedents in number and gender.

  • Example: "Every student must bring his or her book" (singular) or "All students must bring their books" (plural).

Pronoun Case

Use subjective (I, you, he, she, it, we, they), objective (me, you, him, her, it, us, them), and possessive pronouns (my/mine, your/yours, his, her/hers, its, our/ours, their/theirs) correctly.

  • Example: Incorrect: "Between you and I, this is wrong." Correct: "Between you and me, this is correct."

Parallel Structure

Use the same pattern of words to show that two or more ideas have the same level of importance. This can apply to lists, paired ideas, and more.

  • Example: "She likes reading, writing, and to jog." Correct: "She likes reading, writing, and jogging."



Use commas for lists, to set off non-essential information, after introductory phrases, and more.

  • Example: "In my free time, I enjoy hiking, reading, and cooking."


Indicate possession with singular nouns by adding 's, and with plural nouns just adding an apostrophe if they already end in s.

  • Example: "The dog's leash" (singular), "The dogs' leashes" (plural).

Colons and Semicolons

Use colons before a list or an explanation that is preceded by a clause that could stand by itself. Use semicolons to connect closely related ideas or to separate items in a complex list.

  • Example (Colon): "I need the following supplies: a flashlight, a sleeping bag, and a tent."
  • Example (Semicolon): "She was late to work; her alarm clock didn't go off."

Dashes and Hyphens

Use dashes to add emphasis or to set off information that is not essential to the understanding of the sentence. Use hyphens for compound words and when joining numbers in words.

  • Example (Dash): "My friend—whom I haven't seen in years—surprised me at my birthday party."
  • Example (Hyphen): "Twenty-three people were invited to the party."

Sentence Structure

Simple, Compound, Complex, and Compound-Complex Sentences

Understand the differences and uses of simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences to vary sentence structure and engage the reader.

  • Simple Sentence: Contains a subject and a verb, and it expresses a complete thought. Example: "The dog barks."
  • Compound Sentence: Contains two independent clauses joined by a conjunction. Example: "The sun rose and the birds began to sing."
  • Complex Sentence: Contains an independent clause and at least one dependent clause. Example: "Because the sun rose, the birds began to sing."
  • Compound-Complex Sentence: Contains two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. Example: "The sun rose, the birds began to sing, and the day began brightly."


Place modifiers near the words they describe; be careful with placement to avoid dangling and misplaced modifiers.

  • Example (Correct Placement): "The girl with the red hat walked her dog."
  • Example (Misplaced Modifier): "Walking her dog, the hat was seen on the girl." Corrected to "Walking her dog, the girl wore a red hat."

Active vs. Passive Voice

Prefer active voice for clarity and brevity. In active voice, the subject performs the action. In passive voice, the subject receives the action.

  • Active Voice Example: "The chef cooked a delicious meal."
  • Passive Voice Example: "A delicious meal was cooked by the chef." Prefer active voice unless you have a specific reason to use passive.

Conventions of Standard English


Use capital letters at the beginning of sentences, for proper nouns, and titles. This helps identify the start of sentences and the significance of specific names or titles.

  • Example: "Dr. Smith moved to New York City in June."


Pay attention to the spelling of commonly confused words such as "there/their/they’re" and "its/it’s." Proper spelling is crucial for clear communication.

  • Example: "Their dog loves chasing its tail."

Commonly Misused Words

Understanding the correct use of commonly misused words can significantly improve the clarity of your writing.

  • Affect vs. Effect: "Affect" is usually a verb meaning to influence, while "Effect" is a noun meaning the result.

    • Example: "The medication will not affect her condition, but its side effects are concerning."
  • Fewer vs. Less: Use "fewer" for countable objects and "less" for uncountable quantities.

    • Example: "There are fewer apples than oranges, but less juice."
  • Then vs. Than: Use "then" when referring to time, and "than" for comparisons.

    • Example: "If you study now, then you'll perform better than if you procrastinate."

Strategy Tips

Read the Entire Sentence

Understanding the context of the sentence is crucial for choosing the right answer. Always read the sentence thoroughly to grasp its meaning and structure before selecting an answer.

  • Example: "After reading the entire passage, the answer often becomes clearer."

Answer Choices as Hints

The answer choices themselves can give you clues about what the question is testing. Look for patterns or common errors among the choices to help identify the correct answer.

  • Example: "If most options change the verb tense, the question likely tests verb tense consistency."


Cross out answers you know are wrong to narrow down your choices. This strategy can increase your chances of picking the right answer, especially when you're unsure.

  • Example: "Even if you're not sure about the correct answer, eliminating two incorrect options can significantly improve your odds of guessing right."


Don’t spend too much time on one question. If you're stuck, move on and come back to it if you have time. Effective time management is key to completing all questions within the allotted time.

  • Example: "Aim to spend about one minute per question and adjust as needed based on the section's difficulty and your strengths."

Practice Questions

Subject-Verb Agreement

Question: "Each of the dogs _ (have/has) a unique collar." Answer: "has" Explanation: "Each" is singular, so the verb should also be singular.

Verb Tense Consistency

Question: "She started painting and _ (is/was) hoping to finish by noon." Answer: "was" Explanation: The sentence begins in the past tense, so it should maintain consistency throughout.

Pronoun Agreement

Question: "Everyone _ (brings/bring) their own lunch to the picnic." Answer: "brings" Explanation: "Everyone" is singular, so the verb should be singular, even though "their" suggests plural. This is an accepted use to avoid gender-specific language.

Pronoun Case

Question: "Between you and _ (I/me), I think we can solve this puzzle." Answer: "me" Explanation: "Between" is a preposition, which requires the use of the objective case "me."

Parallel Structure

Question: "She likes to swim, _ (biking/bike/to bike), and running." Answer: "to bike" Explanation: To maintain parallel structure, each verb should begin with "to."

Comma Use

Question: "We need milk eggs bread and butter at the store." Answer: "We need milk, eggs, bread, and butter at the store." Explanation: Commas are needed to separate items in a list.

Apostrophe Use for Possession

Question: "That is _ (Janes'/Jane's) book on the table." Answer: "Jane's" Explanation: To show possession for singular nouns, add 's.

Active vs. Passive Voice

Question: "The final goal _ (was scored/scored) by the team's star player." Answer: "was scored" Explanation: This is an example of the passive voice, where the subject receives the action.

Additional Resources


  • "The Official SAT Study Guide" by The College Board: Contains official SAT practice tests and descriptions of the grammar rules tested on the SAT.
  • "Erica Meltzer's The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar": Offers comprehensive coverage of all the grammar and rhetoric topics tested on the SAT Writing section.


  • Khan Academy: Offers free personalized SAT preparation plans, including practice questions and video lessons on grammar and writing.
  • College Board: Provides official SAT practice tests, sample questions, and tips directly from the test makers.

Tools and Apps

  • Grammarly: While primarily a writing tool, it can help identify grammatical errors and explain how to correct them.
  • Quizlet: Use or create flashcards to review grammar rules and practice questions.

YouTube Channels

  • Khan Academy SAT: Features instructional videos specifically for SAT preparation, including writing and language sections.
  • SupertutorTV: Offers tips, strategies, and explanations for various aspects of the SAT, including the grammar section.