SAT Tips: Know Your Pronoun Rules

Click on the image to go to and answer the question.


One of the best ways to prep for the SAT is to do the SAT question of the day from the College Board. If you’re a high school student you should answer the question and challenge your parents to answer it too (most parents will do better than you in Reading and Writing but you’ll kill them in Math). Each time you do the QOTD, you should be looking to learn at least one thing about the SAT. Something they like to test, some rule that you need to know, some word that you didn’t know, or some great new shortcut for doing a problem more efficiently. If you’re not learning from each problem than you’re not getting the most out of your practice.

What you need going into the test
When prepping for the SAT what you are usually trying to do is learn all you need to know before walking into the door. You should know before trying this question that the SAT loves to tests pronoun rules. In fact, typically 9% – 12% of SAT grammar questions directly test pronoun rules.  The pronoun rules tested on the SAT are agreement, case, and ambiguity.

If you understand each of these rules than you should be able to rock questions like the one above and be in the 45% of the population that got the question right!


Let’s check out each pronoun rule:

Pronoun agreement
Pronoun agreement means that a pronoun must agree with the noun it refers to in number, so a plural noun must refer to with a plural pronoun and a singular with a singular. In this example sentence: “After the team from Virgin Islands won the tournament, they received a gubernatorial award.” you should know that the pronoun they is incorrect because team is a singular and thus the pronoun they is not correct.

Pronoun case
The second pronoun rule that the SAT is enamored with occurs less frequently than the first, but is still good to know, is pronoun case (you’ll use it in your writing, and writing well is a necessary skill for college). Pronoun case refers to the use of pronouns that do something (called subject pronouns – I, you, he, she, we) versus pronouns that get something done to them (called object pronouns – me, you, him, she, us). For example, “John and I talked about Mary and me.” uses both pronouns correctly.

Pronoun ambiguity
The last of our pronoun triumvirate is pronoun ambiguity, which means the use of pronouns in a manner that makes it unclear what noun it refers to. Always check that one and only one noun can agree with the pronoun mentioned. In the sentence “A large portion of the world’s oil is produced in Venezuela and it is often shipped to other counties.” the pronoun is ambiguous since it can refer to oil or Venezuela.


This information should help you answer the question above and help you get ahead of the curve (yeah we love Bell Curves!) on SAT Writing questions involving pronouns! Good luck and let us know if you need a class, tutor, or advice.

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