Punctuation matters on both the SAT and ACT.
Even students fairly adept with writing often find themselves second-guessing their knowledge of usage when taking the SAT or ACT. Why? The question format trips them up. More often than not, the questions and/or answer choices confuse students who don’t have a solid grasp of usage, especially when it comes to commas, semi-colons, and colons.
Quite a few points have been lost simply for the sake of a missed comma!
So, students aiming for top SAT/ACT scores should solidify their punctuation knowledge before taking these tests.
In fact, brushing up on punctuation is one of the quickest ways to increase SAT/ACT scores overall.
I’m reminded of a student I worked with some years ago now. A senior from Lyme-Old Lyme High School, he wanted to increase his SAT Writing score, which was in the mid-400s. This was in the days of the “Old” SAT, with separate scores for Reading, Math, and Writing and a total possible score of 2400. This student had limited time to meet with me before retaking the SAT, so we focused on the main rules of punctuation and some key grammar concepts. The result–a 200+ point increase and a competitive Writing score in the mid-600s!