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SAT Essay Tips: 15 Ways to Improve Your Score

Best Self-Paced Online Courses Whether you've never written a SAT Essay or didn't obtain the desired score on your last exam, you can benefit from learning more: both about the essay itself and what truly counts when graders read your essay.

UPDATE: SAT Essay is No Longer Offered

The College Board stated in January 2021 that the Essay part of the SAT will no longer be offered after June 2021 (save for schools that opt-in during School Day Testing). It is no longer possible to take the SAT Essay, unless your institution is one of the few that still offers it during SAT institution Day testing.

While most institutions have previously made SAT Essay scores optional, the College Board's action implies that no universities will now need the SAT Essay. It is also likely to result in more college application modifications, such as not considering essay scores for the SAT or ACT and maybe demanding extra writing samples for placement.

The Challenge

The SAT Essay is a pretty brief assignment. You only have 50 minutes to read a 650-750 word text, examine the strategies the author employs to frame her/his argument, and produce a full-fledged essay—yet it can go by in a hurry if you don't have a strategy for addressing it.

Writing an SAT essay necessitates a very particular technique that differs from the essays you've been writing for English class in school. The purpose of this technique is to fit as many desirable components as possible inside the 50 minutes you have. In this post, we'll provide you with 15 crucial SAT essay recommendations.

The first five ideas in this post are based on what the College Board says about what makes a strong essay. The following five facts are ones that the College Board does not want you to know (or make plain). The final five SAT essay writing instructions demonstrate how to write a SAT essay step by step.

What the College Board Tells You: Five Tips

The College Board's scoring guidelines describe the key components of a good SAT Essay. Here they are condensed:

1: Present a clear thesis.

The SAT essay criteria specify that "the response includes a precise central claim."

This implies that your essay should have a clear point that the reader can simply identify.

All you have to do to make your "precise central claim" is identify the passage's key concept and describe the strategies the author employs to support it.

Fortunately, the SAT gives you the passage's key concept, so you don't have to look for it yourself. I've bolded the assertion in this (fake) example prompt so you can see it for yourself.

Write an article explaining how Sam Lindsay uses an argument to persuade her audience that more works of art should include monsters. In your essay, examine how Lindsay employs one or more of the traits indicated in the box above (or features of your own choosing) to improve the logic and persuasiveness of her argument. Make sure your analysis focuses on the passage's most significant elements.

In her piece "Monsters Monsters Everywhere," Sam Lindsay persuades her readers that more works of art should include monsters using personal experiences, evocative language, and emotional pleas.

It is OK to replicate the exact words summarizing the author's fundamental argument from the prompt into your thesis statement; in fact, this ensures that the graders will notice that your thesis is present and on topic. Your essay should not describe whether you agree with Lindsay's ideas, but rather how she constructs an argument to persuade her readers.

2: Provide both an introduction and a conclusion.

The SAT essay criteria say, "The response includes a skillful introduction and conclusion."

Including an opening paragraph in your essay is critical to receiving a Writing score higher than a 4 (out of 8). The beginning paragraph exposes the reader to what you'll be discussing and helps you to lay out the framework for the rest of the essay. Furthermore, a beginning may be a very accurate predictor of the quality of the body of the essay—a poorly formed start is frequently a signal that the essay that follows will be as discombobulated.

It's better to have both an introduction and a conclusion, but if you're short on time and only have one, go with the introduction. The primary reason for this is that a solid introduction contains your thesis statement. For the SAT essay, your thesis (or "precise central claim") should be a statement about how the author constructs her/his case.

Introductions may be difficult to write since anything you write in that paragraph can make you feel trapped into writing only about it. If you're having trouble creating the opening paragraph, leave 10 blank lines at the start of the essay and then begin writing your body paragraphs. Just be sure to go back and write your introduction before time runs out!

3: Use effective language and word choices.

A few components of the SAT essay rubric's Writing score portion are directly related to style.

The SAT essay rubric defines a perfect Writing-score essay as "the response is cohesive and demonstrates a highly effective use and command of language."

For most of us, "command of language" takes a long time to develop, so unless your language skills are truly bad or you're preparing at least a year ahead of time (or both), you'll probably benefit more from focusing on the other aspects of the essay.

The SAT essay rubric further states: "The response contains a wide range of sentence forms. The response shows constant use of exact word choice. The response retains a formal and impartial tone.

This essentially boils down to this: don't be redundant and avoid language errors.

In addition, you should avoid utilizing first-person words like "I" or "My" in your essay, as well as any other informality. You are writing the equivalent of a school paper, not an opinion article.

Bad (too informal):

"I believe Sam's quite compelling in her piece since she's so passionate. It made me feel horrible because I don't monster it up in my daily life.

Good (formal):

"Lindsay's passionate defense of how drawing monsters 'allows us to laugh at our personal foibles' causes her audience to put themselves in her shoes and empathize with her position."

Finally, try to use diverse words to convey the same concept—do not use "shows" 15 times.

Make use of the opportunity to demonstrate your vocabulary (if it is appropriate and makes sense). This is the most important reason to revise your SAT Essay—it's quick and easy to replace repeated terms with new ones once you've completed it, but worrying about your word choice might slow you down while writing. If you want to get the highest possible score, you must use advanced vocabulary correctly.

4: Only use information from the passage.

All of the crucial information is in the paragraph, so avoid delving into the issue and relying on outside knowledge—you want to demonstrate that you read the passage.

Depending on the issue, there are several real-world approaches to support a thesis. However, on the SAT Best Self-Paced Online Courses. There is only one type of valid support: particular details from the paragraph you're required to evaluate. We will show you more below.

5: Concentrate your essay on relevant details.

You do not need to include every element that contributes to the argument's effectiveness. Focusing your subject on a few issues can make your essay more cohesive and increase your chances of scoring higher in Analysis. It is more vital to demonstrate your ability to identify and explain the most relevant components of the argument than to identify every single persuasive tactic utilized by the author.

Assume you were assigned a 50-minute essay detailing the human face and what each component accomplishes. A straightforward essay would just focus on the essential features—eyes, nose, and mouth. A less successful article may attempt to explain cheekbones, brows, eyelashes, skin pores, chin clefts, and dimples as well. While all of these components are part of the face, it would be difficult to go into detail about each one in just 50 minutes.

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