SAT Verb Tense Practice (Free)

If you have taken or plan or taking the SAT examination, you probably know that there is an SAT Writing and Language section that you must complete within your test duration.

The Writing and Language portion of the exam will include questions that essentially assess your understanding of grammar and writing styles. So to help students with the most frequently asked questions, today's blog article will cover verb tense consistency that you should expect to see on the college entrance exam along with how you can successfully answer these types of questions.

So if you would like some key tips and advice on how to master the SAT Writing and Language section of the test, keep on reading! 7EDU has included a free download for students to practice their verb tense consistency within the article 😉

Why is it important to understand foundational grammar and language rules? By appropriately learning the grammatical and lingual rules tested on the SAT Writing and Language section, you will be further prepared to flourish in the otherwise challenging SAT and receive the high marks that you desire.

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Below, 7EDU has compiled the core overview of the grammatical rules relating to verb tense consistency that you will more than likely see on the SAT test. Bookmark this page for easy review of its fundamental rules that you should know on the examination.

What Is Verb Tense Consistency and Why It Is Important

A valuable part of any writing involves constructing a story. As you recount a narrative, it is usual to incorporate short anecdotes (theoretical tales) as a point of reference in your essay.

These brief accounts that students mention generally involve a suggested time frame for the activity and states being discussed in the story. As such, you can see how changes in the verb tense are fundamental to helping the audience grasp the relationships among a multitude of recounted events.

It is important, however, that you do not utilize redundant or inessential shifts in your writing. This will only produce confusion and disarray to your readers.

Universal Rule For Maintaining Verb Tense Consistency

Most of the time, students can anticipate seeing writers preserve one tense for the entire dialogue and suggesting switches in time frame by varying the verb tense with respect to the original tense.

The original tense you should expect to see is typically either in a simple past or simple present.

And while this refers to a narrative or story, it is useful to employ proper verb tense usage and consistency for non-narrative writing as well. On the SAT Writing and Language sections, you should be ready to see either style of writing and appropriately employ sustain verb tense coherency.

The universal guideline or rule for preserving verb tense uniformity is as followed:

Do not change from one tense to another if the time frame for the respective action or state is the same.

To practice, you should take a look at the examples below that 7EDU has prepared. The sample sentences with incorrect or inconsistent utilization of verbs will be in red.


1. I go to the store and I bought milk

Go is a present tense, referring to a current state; bought is past but should be present (buy) since you are going to the store and purchasing the milk at the same time.

2. About noon the sky darkened, a breeze sprang up, and a low rumble announces the approaching storm.

Darkened and sprang up are both past tense verbs; announces is present but should be past tense (announced) in order to preserve the verb tense consistency.

Hints On Verb Tense Consistency For A Paragraph Or Essay

When you are faced with an essay or paragraph on the SAT Writing and Language section, there is a key tip on how you can be clear in your comprehension and proper usage of verb tense consistency.

A common guide is to determine the principal tense for the main rhetoric and incorporate shifts to other tenses to signal a change in the time frame.

The past tense should be employed to recount events that refer to the writer or his/her ideas as historical items.

The present tense should be utilized to indicate regular actions as well as to portray the ideas of the writer or your own regarding a particular work. The present can also be used to explain an event as if it were occurring now. This is done to exemplify a dramatic effect, but be sure to employ the present tense consistently throughout the story if you do take this route.

Practice Exercise

Take a stab at the following verb tense exercise. Don't scroll beyond until you are ready for the answers to be revealed!

Answer Key

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