As you prepare to take your SATs, it is natural to worry about the essay portion. Writing is a complicated and often subjective process! This lesson will assuage your anxieties with basic tips for how to make your SAT essays great.
The SAT Essay
Writing an essay on your SAT is optional; only some colleges will ask to see your score from this section. Still, most experts recommend that you take the essay test. If you follow some basic guidelines and principles of good writing, you will do a good job on this portion and it will augment your score. Also, colleges will be impressed by your motivation to complete an optional task.
Writing skills are an important part of any college experience, and admissions officers will appreciate the efforts you make.In many ways, writing your SAT essay is not dramatically different from other writing tasks you have accomplished. You will read a primary source text, such as a newspaper article or transcript of a speech. Then, you will be asked to write an essay describing the way the author or speaker has structured his or her argument. It is important to remember that you are not being asked to articulate your own point of view on the argument; rather, you are describing another author’s methods and style. This is something you can actually practice every time you read an editorial or listen to a speech, and you will develop strong habits of mind that will contribute to your success! The remainder of this lesson is dedicated to offering you some tips to make your writing as strong as possible.
SAT Essay Tips
Say what you mean, mean what you say.
Before you begin writing your essay, make sure you read the related text carefully. Then, take a minute to decide what you actually want to say about it.
Ask yourself, ‘How does this text work?’ If you can construct one or two mental sentences that actually describe your analysis of the textual structures, you are better positioned to write an authentic and organized essay in which you are actually saying something. If you find yourself unable to do this, you may want to go back and reread the text before trying to write.
Evidence, evidence, evidence.
The readers of your essay will be interested in your ability to refer back to the text as you are writing. Try to make sure that each of your supporting paragraphs contains at least one piece of evidence directly from the text. You can either incorporate direct quotes, or you can reference lines from the text that you feel prove your point clearly. Be as specific as possible! If you cannot find such evidence, it might be a sign that the paragraph is inaccurate and does not actually pertain to the text at hand.
Be neat, be tidy.
When you revise and edit your essay before declaring yourself finished, focus on grammar, spelling, capitalization and punctuation. These seemingly simple elements of style can make or break your writing. If you are not sure how a particular word is spelled, you might even want to consider replacing it with a synonym you are more sure about. Also, in contrast to some other writing you do, remember that your penmanship actually counts for your SAT essay.
Think about the people who read dozens of these essays each day: if they have to struggle to decode your handwriting, they will not necessarily be inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt. Write as neatly as you can. The same goes for making your work look tidy on the page. Indent each of your paragraphs so that it is abundantly clear where one paragraph ends and the next begins. Make sure that your page is void of stray markings or scratches that might distract readers from your overarching argument and style.