SAT Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Write a Better Essay

SAT Tip of the Week - FullTwenty-five minutes to complete the essay portion of the SAT seems like an impossible feat, but with the right preparation you can tackle this task with ease. Writing an essay usually requires a great deal of time, information gathering, planning, and drafting, but you can still pull off a well-written essay that will give you the score you are yearning for.

There are two simple principles to help you through the process, as well as tips to help you execute them flawlessly. You should come into the test prepared with two fundamentals; have a plan and know what the graders are looking for. Once that is in place, it is much easier to use the detailed tips in delivering the best essay twenty-five minutes will give you.

Do Your Research Before The Test

Come prepared with a plan. This means three simple things, know your audience, know your tactic, and know how to combine them. Your audience is obviously the grader, your tactic is knowing how to write an effective essay, and the way to combine them is by delivering a well-written essay that excites the graders. Do a little research on what graders are looking for and how they score. There will be two graders assigning you separate scores from one to six. Their combined points will decide your overall score. Knowing the point scale criteria can give you an accurate idea of what you’ll need to do to get your desired score.

Understand The Question And Take A Stand

Start off by thoroughly reading the directions; really make sure you understand the question in front of you. You will be given a vague topic to write on; rephrase the question into a specific persuasive sentence that takes a clear stance. Whether or not you agree with the stance is irrelevant; pick the side for which you have the most knowledge and information. Many students make the mistake of writing on both sides. You want to sell your position to the grader. Once you’ve picked your point of view, keep it simple, write clearly, and provide information and examples that back up your viewpoint. Don’t just use your own experiences to sell your point; try to work in specific fact-based examples like dates, locations, or events

Write A Standard 5-Paragraph Persuasive Essay

Next organize your ideas into the essay structure – the standard five-paragraph essay. This includes an introduction, three paragraphs which are the heart of the essay, and a conclusion. The introduction should be clever and captivating. Make the statement of thesis clear and concise, describing how you will prove it over the course of the essay. The three paragraphs to follow need to contain your three main points and give excellent examples using variety and clarity. These paragraphs should flow smoothly from one to the other and read like an unspoken one, two, three. Lastly, transition into your conclusion with a summary of the information covered, followed by a call to action.

Proofread For Errors And For Flow

Proofread your work first for flow, which is the way it sounds. Proofread a second time for grammar and spelling errors, or how it looks. Graders know errors are more common due to time constraints, so they look for repeated mistakes. Do you spell the same word wrong every time? Do you consistently use the wrong punctuation? This is how you will be graded, so don’t overthink each error; just make sure the same one is not repeated.

Another huge mistake is the overuse of “sophisticated” words. It is better to use vocabulary that you are familiar with and confident in using rather than large words you may use incorrectly. The best scores come with skillfully using the correct words in the right context, not the most complex words. Show variation in your writing style and switch up the types of sentences you create; it will show that you have a solid grasp of the language.

Putting It All Together

Twenty-five minutes isn’t a long time to write an excellent essay, but with planning and preparation you can still do a good job. Know the essay structure and know what appeals to the graders. Rephrase your essay question into a persuasive statement that makes sense to you. Take a position that will give you enough examples to sell it. Gather your ideas, organize, write, and proofread for how it sounds and how it looks. Vary the kind of examples and sentences you use, stay within your expertise in vocabulary, and be clear and concise – no fluff. You’ll ace the essay in no time!

Plan on taking the SAT soon? We run a free online SAT prep seminar every few weeks. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!