Scholastic Aptitude Test or simply SAT is one of the most common tests that students need to take if they are planning to enter a college or university. Essay makes up a big part of the test, so if you don’t learn how to manage the task, you risk losing grades.
If you are too stressed out not knowing how this section should be completed and what to expect, exhale! This essay is optional, so if the college you chose doesn’t require it, you don’t need to worry.
However, often SAT essays are really fun and engaging, and you never know when you may need them. So if you doubt whether it is worth writing, just get familiar with prompts and of course read the tips below! We will teach you how to earn a high grade on the SAT essay.
Should I take the SAT essay?
It is always up to you to decide whether to write an essay or not. However, there are a few benefits even if the college of your interest doesn’t require this section.
The biggest advantage is that it helps you to widen choices of colleges. You will be able to change colleges any time without worrying that you lack the SAT essay score.
Once the submission time arrives, you can easily change colleges and universities without a need to lose one year.
Moreover, the majority of colleges and schools that don’t require SAT essay directly, still recommend passing it as a part of the admission process. In such a case, having a score for SAT essay will be rather beneficial and will help you to stand out among other applicants.
If you still don’t know whether to pass the essay or not and have originally chosen SAT without an essay, you can add the essay right on the test day.
SAT essay: structure and duration
SAT exam consists of three sections: reading, writing and language, and math. Students are given three hours to complete them (additional time is given for breaks). SAT essay lasts 50 minutes.
When you start working on the essay section, you will be given a passage around 700 words. In 50 given minutes you will need to read that passage and answer the given prompt. This evaluates how well you are able to analyze the claims of the author and to work with reasoning, evidence, and other techniques.
Remember that you won’t earn a high score if you simply summarize the passage or provide your opinion on the topic. When working on the passage, you will need to analyze the main points and the reasons why they were given.
The biggest advice we can give is preparing for the SAT essay well in advance. This will help you to walk into the test room with a plan of actions and you will remain calm no matter what is waiting for you ahead.
Now we are happy to introduce you to SAT essay examples and tips for a mind-blowing result!
8 Tips and SAT essay examples
You probably know that it is important not only to succeed on the test day but also to prepare in advance. The following strategies will help you to earn the highest scores:
1. Understand how the scoring system works
While everything is rather clear with multi-choice questions that are scored correct or incorrect, the essay in SAT is given three scores.
Two different readers will grade your essay individually and give it a score from one to four for every one of the three sections (reading, analysis, and writing). Scores of both of the readers will then be added together. The results of your SAT essay will contain three separate grades, each from two to eight.
For example, here is one of the score combinations you may get: 7 Reading, 6 Analysis, 7 Writing.
The Reading score will evaluate how well you have understood a given passage. The Analysis score will show how well you have analyzed the author’s persuasive techniques. And finally, the Writing score will show how well you have mastered the language and writing techniques.
2. Get familiar with SAT essay examples
In order to understand what graders want to see from you and to get the maximum scores in every area, it is better to study examples of previous SAT essays and prompts.
Once you read both prompts and answers attentively, you will be able to understand how the author used claims, stylistic elements, reasoning, and other tools.
When you read several SAT essay examples you will be able to come up with personal strategies that will significantly simplify the test day.
3. Read professional sources
Another great way of improving writing and analytical skills is to read reputable media sources on a regular basis. For example, read The New York Times at least once a week, analyze articles and try to come up with your own arguments.
If you make applying your reading, analytical and writing skills a regular habit, it will be much easier to cope with SAT essay.
4. Practice, practice, practice
You probably know that practice always makes us closer to perfect. So you need to train not only answering multiple-choice questions but also writing essays.
Use one of SAT Essay examples, give yourself 50 minutes and start writing. Compare your answer to the responses of other students with various scores to see what your strengths and weaknesses are.
In such a way you will understand which of the sections you need to work harder on. To get a more objective review, ask your friend, teacher or relative for help. There are also online tools that allow you uploading drafts and getting feedback from real users. It is a great alternative if you don’t want to share your essay draft with the people you know.
5. Read the given passage attentively
When the test day arrives, you will most likely feel anxious and nervous. This often results in rushing with answers or second-guessing. Both of the variants may do you harm.
As well as during the core part of SAT tests, you may start writing quickly thinking that you lack time but try to take a deep breath and relax. You need to understand what the author wanted to say through the passage and hurry may only confuse you.
Imagine how awful it is to finish the essay, get back and see that you have understood the author in the wrong way! To avoid such a common mistake, you must give yourself time to read the passage carefully, because most likely you won’t have time to rewrite the answer if you detect mistakes.
6. Always craft an outline
When you have read the passage and the prompt attentively, take some time to get your thoughts together and put them on paper. For this purpose, you need to create an outline.
Creating a road map for the introduction, main paragraphs and conclusion, when the information is still fresh in the memory, will help you to build a strong and logical argument.
The outline is also a great way to plan the writing and to give you a clear direction, so you will never have holes in arguments.
7. Relate all the parts together
As with any high school essay, your SAT essay should be clear and properly structured. When crafting an introduction, you need to write a powerful thesis statement that relates to the chosen prompt. Then make sure that elements of body paragraphs refer to the thesis statement.
Conclusion of your SAT essay shouldn’t be just a brief summary of everything that you have written. Think about how your findings might be placed in real-life circumstances or share a valuable insight that you had when analyzing the passage.
8. Have enough time to edit your essay
It is easier to say than to do but you should try and leave some time for revision. With its help, you may find misprints, wrong spelling or grammar, as well as weak points in the response.
Be as critical as possible and use every minute to make your writing smooth, clear and interesting. Let it be a representation of how you think and write.
SAT essay examples: final thoughts
Even though the SAT essay is an optional part of the test, it gives students a great opportunity to show analytical and writing skills. The key to success is to prepare for the test in advance.
It may seem that 50 minutes is not enough to read the passage, analyze it and write the essay but if you remain calm and have a clear plan of action, you will have enough time to reread your essay and edit it.
If you have worries or are not able to prepare for SAT essay on your own, we are always there to cover your back and to help on every stage of the process!