A Guide to the Scholastic Aptitude Test Writing Prompt
This step-by-step guide to the essay portion of the SAT will help organize your writing and increase your score.
No matter which college you intend to pursue, getting a good score on the SAT can be an important part of the process. This guide will help you approach the SAT essay with confidence.
About the SAT Essay
The SAT essay measures how well students communicate, organize, and support their ideas on a particular topic. The essays are judged by high school and college teachers who assign each academic essay writer a score from 1 to 6, with 6 being the highest score. You will have a time limit of 25 minutes to complete the essay, and you must write in pencil.
What the Teachers Are Looking For
Essays are judged on point of view development, critical thinking, organization, focus, and variety in word choice and sentence structure. Of course, they must also be free from grammatical, spelling, and usage errors.
Teachers are also looking for your own opinion. Be sure to use the first-person point of view and offer personal examples from your life if they are appropriate.
What the Teachers Are Not Looking For
The readers who will assign scores are not looking for lengthy essays or essays that give a lot of examples. Be sure to focus your essay on one point of view and offer a couple of relevant, well-developed examples. Don’t try to bombard the readers with too many rambling examples.
Teachers are also NOT looking for broad generalizations. They want clear ideas and specific evidence to support those ideas. This is one of the most difficult concepts for students to master. A good rule of thumb is to avoid blanket statements using words such as “everyone” or “always.” These often lead to generalizations and keep the writer from focusing on specific examples.
Getting a Good Score
If you want to get a good score on your SAT essay, you need to start by answering the question. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many students veer off in different directions with their writing and forget to focus on the assigned topic. Most essay assignments include a passage from a specific author that relates to the topic. Be sure to refer to this example in your essay, but also make sure you offer your point of view on the topic.
Students hate prewriting, but it is essential to writing a well-organized essay. Outline your ideas before you start writing. You will thank yourself later.
If you are comfortable with the structure of the five-paragraph essay, use it. This essay format has been drilled into the middle- and high-school students for years, so why not use it to write a well-organized essay? Just remember that you don’t have to write five paragraphs. You can begin with the essay introduction and write two well-developed body paragraphs and a conclusion. You can move your thesis statement around. You can write three meaty paragraphs. It’s up to you. The key is to stay focused and organized throughout.
There is no requirement that you use literary examples, but if you think of one that is relevant and supports your point of view by all means include it. Literary examples provide evidence of critical thinking because you are relating your opinion to an outside source. This kind of higher-level thought process is exactly what the teachers are looking for. But if you can provide a different kind of example to show your critical thinking skills, this works just as well.
Try to leave at least five minutes after you finish writing to proofread thoroughly. Errors in spelling, grammar, usage, and mechanics will cost you valuable points.