CollegeBoard.org offers a variety of data reports for parents, students, and college admissions boards to better understand the importance of the SAT. One of these reports is called the Validity of the SAT for Predicting First Year College GPA*. Contrary to what most individuals would assume, this report finds that out of each SAT testing section, the section that is most useful in predicting a student’s abilities as a first year college student is the SAT writing section. The validity report goes on to say that the writing section alone is not as valid as predicting a student’s success in college through their overall high school GPA and SAT scores combined. However, college admission officers are looking to SAT writing scores as a major indicator of what a student’s future success may be. For many students it is time to face the facts – nearly all your college courses and in any career you could choose writing is going to be a major requirement! To become a great essay writer will save a student countless hours in practicing for the SAT and for life beyond the SAT!
Many students ask why the SAT is important, or even more particularly many students want to know if the SAT writing section even matters to an admissions officer? I see these questions among students on a daily basis and I hope this small glimpse into the College Board paints a very real picture for the importance the SAT holds in opening the doors to a high school student’s future.
Even after hearing that the SAT writing section is considered the easiest score to improve on with the SAT, many students choose to ignore any need for improvement. Some of these students will do everything they can think of to raise their Math and Reading scores by just a smidgen while taking the SAT over and over again. These are countless hours wasted in test taking when student’s can spend just a few moments each day outlining and practicing the SAT essay as well. Did you know that one of the key factors for getting a perfect score on an SAT essay is a student’s ability to naturally implement SAT level vocabulary into their essay? Most students don’t even think to utilize their new found vocabulary in the essay. However, the keyword here is to naturally implement the vocabulary. If a student incorrectly uses a word or throws in just one or two words in an essay that stick out like sore thumbs, the student will receive a lower score. For students that need to improve their score overall, get a free consultation with us for in-home or online SAT prep courses.
Students and parents alike should not forget what lies beyond the SAT. After the SAT, high school students will be applying for college and scholarships – both of which are likely to require a great deal of writing and an assigned essay topic. Beyond that, a student is accepted into a school of their choice and starts their college career with a general education. Most college Freshman will, out of requirement, sign up for an English course of some kind their first semester and discover that what little writing they did in high school didn’t truly teach them anything they need to know about writing a college level paper – constantly switching between MLA and APA formatting.
I remember my first semester as a college student. I was a fantastic writer. However, being able to say that your English teachers always enjoyed your writing from elementary to high school is a lot like admitting your Mom likes you best. My first English professor in college didn’t care and wasn’t even convinced that I learned how to write in high school. To her, I could churn out half a dozen essays quickly in a given, single format without any real point or focused passion. She expected perfect grammar and a new found use for things like semicolons (which I had never used in my writing before). She expected me to reference all my arguments at an academic level and somehow still maintain a personal passion for the subject without ever making the essay seem like it was a personal argumentative essay. As we learn to write in elementary school and carry our writing through our last years of high school, our teachers are asking us our opinions. While a student’s opinion does matter in college, a college level paper requires proof and a level of straight-to-the-point vocabulary that just isn’t taught today in high school.
The SAT essay measures a student’s ability to:
- develop an opinion or point or view on a given issued
- support that opinion using valid reasoning and examples from reading, studies, personal experience, and observations
- correctly utilize vocabulary and grammar to expand on a given subject as well as follow the conventions of written English
The SAT essay is a student’s chance to effectively express his or her opinion while showcasing their ability. A student will never, ever be scored based on their expressed opinion and whether or not that opinion is “correct.” Rather, a student will be graded entirely on their ability to utilize an SAT level of vocabulary naturally to support a stated opinion all the way through a basic-format essay. The standard five paragraph argumentative essay response is expected for the SAT essay. With this in mind, a student should have a minimum of three supporting points to their main response and no more than five supporting points. A student should practice presenting their key points logically and clearly, using precise language, and focusing on developing their opinion throughout each paragraph.
The SAT essay must be written on lines provided on an answer sheet. No other paper will be issued to the student. The paper that is given is enough to write a great essay. Student’s should avoid wide margins and ensure their handwriting is a reasonable, legible size. Avoid using cursive for the SAT essay.
When Writing Your SAT Essay, Don’t Forget:
- A pencil. Only a pencil can be used to write your SAT essay. An essay written in ink will automatically receive a zero.
- Do not write in your test booklet. You will only receive credit for what you write on the given essay form.
- Do not get off-topic or your essay will be scored badly. Only discuss what is needed and what will improve upon ONE opinion. Don’t argue both sides of the opinion.
- Use good transition sentences from point-to-point.
- Only utilize your original and individual work. Do not exaggerate or lie about any personal opinions or experiences.
To help each student in improving their SAT writing score and begin preparing for college & scholarship essays, SAT Preparation Group recommends these previous blogs for you to read:
*A list of all CollegeBoard.org SAT related publications can be found here http://research.collegeboard.org/programs/sat
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