On the optional SAT Essay section, you have 50 minutes to analyze the argument an author puts forth in a passage. The content of the given passage remains a secret until you see it on test day, but you do have an opportunity to learn about SAT Essay prompts as you prep for the test. Studying the elements of SAT writing prompts can help you lay the groundwork for a stellar essay.
Elements of the SAT Essay Prompt
All of the optional SAT Essay prompts adhere to the same basic template. First, the prompt instructs you to consider how the author of the passage uses evidence (examples or facts) to support their claims. Secondly, you’re asked to consider the author’s idea development as well as how they connect their claims with evidence. Third, you must consider the author’s use of elements such as their word choice to enhance their ideas. Though these are the basic elements of all SAT writing prompts, the passages vary from one exam to the next.
What to Expect in the Passage Given for the SAT Essay
The practice Essay prompts that are available reveal some of what to expect on the actual test. For example, one practice prompt may ask you to analyze a portion of a speech made by Martin Luther King Jr. on the injustice of the Vietnam War. Another may be a prompt connected to a passage from a book written by President Jimmy Carter, asking you to analyze his argument against the industrial development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Other passages available for students to use to practice their writing skills before taking the SAT are pieces written by contemporary authors such as Paul Bogard and Eliana Dockterman. But keep in mind that when responding to every SAT Essay prompt, the content of the passage is not as important as the quality of the author’s argument.
Preparing to Write Your Essay
The best way to prepare for the new SAT Essay is to practice writing essays with sample SAT writing prompts in mind. Also, get into the habit of jotting down notes as you read the passage. These notes can help you to include evidence that supports your analysis of the author’s argument.
Creating an outline before writing your practice essay is another effective way to prepare for this task. The typical outline features four parts: an introductory paragraph that includes your thesis sentence, a paragraph offering specific examples that support your thesis, a third paragraph covering details of how these examples support your thesis, and a concluding paragraph restating your thesis. Dedicating several minutes to creating an outline for your essay is worth your effort. If you happen to lose your train of thought while writing the actual essay, you can look at your outline to get back on track.
The Ingredients in a High-Scoring SAT Essay
In addition to studying the available SAT Essay prompts, it’s a smart idea to read several essays that received high scores. The new SAT Essay rubric reveals the specific features an essay must have in order to earn a high score. Write your essay using a practice prompt, then evaluate your piece using the rubric to get an idea of how you would have scored. By doing this, you can determine what needs to be put into and left out of your essay in order to earn a high score.
Want to practice with the best? The SAT instructors at Veritas Prep are experts at crafting high-scoring essays. We hire tutors who scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT, so you’ll have access to teachers who know tips and tricks to simplify the essay-writing process. We’ll critique your practice essays and provide you with strategies for crafting a solid analysis of the passage.
We also offer free tutorials to give you an idea of how we can help you prepare for the SAT Essay section as well as all other parts of the test. And when you sign up with Veritas Prep, you can take advantage of either online or in-person courses for your convenience. Give us a call and let our instructors give you the advantage on the new SAT Essay section!