SAT Writing - Expression of Ideas

Video Lesson on SAT - Structure, Patterns and Scoring

The Expression of Ideas section of the SAT Writing and Language test doesn't have to be hard. In this lesson, we will take a look at the Expressions of Ideas portion of the SAT's Writing and Language test entails so you can be ready for the exam.


The SAT Writing and Language test has a variety of question types, including the Expression of Ideas portion that requires you to act as an editor. Questions ask the test taker to improve passages and sentences by addressing development, organization, and language use. In this lesson, we will go over all of the important concepts seen in Expression of Ideas questions along with several examples, so you can be prepared to take the SAT with ease.


Questions about development ask you to do two things: evaluate the writer's intent and then revise the content in order to achieve the writer's purpose effectively. Development questions may ask you to evaluate and revise a passage's proposition, support, focus, or quantitative information.


Within an Expression of Ideas question that evaluates development, you may be asked to improve the unfolding of the 'big ideas' within the passage. For example, you may be asked to analyze thesis statements, topic sentences, and arguments that form the main premise of the passage. Questions often ask if you should add, revise, remove, or retain statements to make the passage clearer.


Support questions ask you to analyze whether supporting details, facts, or examples should be added, removed, or retained. The support information often props up the proposition of the passage.


Focus questions are about adding, removing, or retaining information that is relevant to the passage's purpose. Oftentimes, a focus question isn't as simple as removing irrelevant material; rather, it tests your ability to analyze an entire passage and determine whether the material within the passage is cohesive.

Quantitative Information

Quantitative information questions require you to understand a passage and its infographics to improve its accuracy. These questions may ask you to evaluate a data sentence within the passage and determine if it is the best statement given the infographic.


The writer wants to complete the sentence with the third example of a detail Kingman uses to create his majestic city skylines. Which choice best accomplishes this goal?

  2. exquisitely lettered street and storefront signs.
  3. other details that help define Kingman's urban landscapes.
  4. enormous ships docking at busy urban ports>/li>

His broader brush strokes and sponge-painted shapes create majestic city skylines, with skyscrapers towering in the background, bridges connecting neighborhoods on either side of a river, and delicately painted creatures, such as a tiny, barely visible cat prowling in the bushes of a park.

D is the best choice because it continues the sentence's series of details that describe the city skylines.


Organization questions ask the test taker to evaluate the passage's structure and determine if it needs to be changed to improve its logic, introductions, conclusions, and transitions.


Logic questions ask you to evaluate the placement of sentences within a passage and determine if they are in the most logical order. Other questions may ask you to pick the best place for a sentence to be inserted into the passage too.

Introductions, Conclusions, and Transitions

Introductions, conclusions, and transitions of a passage are important because they tell the reader what the passage is about and signal to the reader when a shift is about to occur. You will be asked to add, replace, or retain words, phrases, or sentences to create a logical bridge from one point to the next.


Which choice results in the most effective transition to the information that follows in the paragraph?

  2. where job opportunities are more plentiful.
  3. and the majority are employed by government agencies.
  4. DELETE the underlined portion and end the sentence with a period.

Most transportation planners work in or near cities, but some are employed in rural areas. Say, for example, a large factory is built on the outskirts of a small town. Traffic to and from that location would increase at the beginning and end of work shifts.

Answer A is correct because it signals a paragraph shift to the example that follows.

Effective Language Use

Effective Language Use questions ask you to revise a passage to make it more precise, concise, consistent, and syntactically correct to present the author's purpose effectively.


Precision questions ask you if a word of phrase is the best choice given the passage. Oftentimes, you will be asked if a word or phrase is too vague, and then be asked to select a more focused word or phrase to enhance the section.


Concision questions ask you to eliminate extraneous and redundant material to make the passage more concise.

Style and Tone

Questions of style and tone often ask you to look at the 'voice' of the passage and determine if it is consistent throughout. Questions may ask you to look at how to writer has set up stylistic patterns to create a certain tone with the passage and whether or not that pattern was successfully employed in the passage.


Syntax questions evaluate your understanding of the proper set up of phrases, clauses, and sentences. Solid syntax within a passage makes information easier to read and understand. Questions ask you to evaluate word order, grammar, and whether two sentences could be combined into one sentence.


What choice would be best for the italicized portion of the passage?

  2. current design of the road right now
  3. road as it is now currently designed
  4. current design of the road

If analysis of the traffic count indicates that there is more traffic than the current road as it is designed at this time can efficiently accommodate, the transportation planner might recommend widening the road to add another lane.

Answer D is correct because it offers a concise way to express the idea.

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