The SAT essay can be overwhelming for some students who feel that English or writing is not their strongest subject. The SAT is a standardized test used for college placement within the United States in both public and private schools. With such importance depending on the SAT, students can’t treat this essay like the common school assignment. The essay portion of the SAT will not be graded by your English teacher and therefore should not be written so casually.
Compose your SAT essay with the opening, the body, and the closing in mind. More than anything you want a nice, even flow from start to finish. Make your points in the first paragraph. Lead into each paragraph of the body with good, effective transition sentences. Use only one paragraph per point that you are making. Make at least three points. Then wrap up your essay with a final paragraph, repeating the points that you have discussed but not word-for-word like your opening paragraph. The closing paragraph is where you re-introduce your final argument for each paragraph within the body whereas the opening paragraph is where you introduce your points that you will be discussing, with less detail. Opening and closing paragraphs should not be more than about five sentences long, on average.
Now that you’re reminded of how the essay should be structured, after reading your essay prompt you’ll need to decide what side you’re on. Are you pro or con the subject that has been assigned? Stick to one side. Don’t go back and forth and discuss varying perspectives. You want to make the strongest argument possible for just one side even if you can see the value of each side.
Individuals who grade the SAT read hundreds of essays week after week. For them, this is a full time job. First and foremost they’re going to look for an essay that is neat and structured well. Great tips for standing out are to make your essay as memorable as possible. Use vocabulary that you’re familiar with and vocabulary that is compelling. Think about how you personally would feel if presented with the argument in a real-life scenario. This will help you include more compelling, personal arguments.
Try to think of points that are memorable. Again, have at least 3 points but probably no more than 5. You want to be as concise as possible. Do not be unnecessarily repetitive or try to make your essay long. An efficient essay will be more memorable and noticeable in a positive way than an essay that is long and drawn out without compelling reason.
We want to stress that you should stay on subject. Pick one side and stick to it. This is not a perspective essay, it is a persuasive essay. Be persuasive! Quickly, before beginning your essay – sketch out on a scrap piece of paper the side you’re taking, three points why, and any notes to remind yourself how you will support those three main points. Make sure your intro presents the problem, states your side, briefly touches on your three reasons why and then transitions into the full essay – a broader scope of what you believe. Make sure in your conclusion to restate the problem, your position, and the reasons. However, do not make your conclusion exactly as your intro. Remember here, you are concluding and your intro is introducing. Make sure your vocabulary reflects intro versus conclusion. For example, in the conclusion you may say, “After discussing ___, ___, ____ (your three main points) it is clear to see why…”
Remember when writing your essay to FOCUS, grab the readers interest and BE CONVINCING, use familiar and ENERGETIC VOCABULARY, and link your paragraphs with EFFECTIVE TRANSITION SENTENCES.
Want more information on the SAT Essay? Check out this Q&A with former essay scorer for the SAT and find some good tips and tricks for your writing.
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