The SAT Essay

Video Lesson on The SAT Essay

Just because the SAT Essay is now optional doesn't mean you shouldn't pay attention to it! In fact, it's all the more reason to make sure you do well and show colleges just how smart you are. For Pakistani Students: LUMS requires SAT essay score, so you cannot skip this section of the test for LUMS admissions.

SAT Essay Facts

There are some other things you should know. First of all, you've got 50 minutes to write the essay. That is more than enough time to get done what you need to accomplish. However, the biggest fact that you should be aware of is that the prompt is always the same. In short, you have to analyze the argument presented in a passage, paying special attention to evidence, reasoning, and style of the author.

Timing the Essay

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You've got 50 minutes to write this essay, so you've actually got more than enough time to work. I won't give any firm limits on time here because everyone is different. If you write quickly once you have everything synthesized, then you'll probably want more time to analyze the work. Likewise, if you write slowly but can read over the material quickly, you'll want more time to write. However, you should do some basic steps no matter what.

Plan before you write. That means reading the passage and taking notes, even if it is just to scribble down a basic outline, that will make your work much more clear.

Make sure that you understand what the author of the passage is saying and how he or she is arguing for it. Nothing is worse than realizing that your thesis is completely wrong.

Speaking of the thesis, coming up with one, as well as 2-3 good introduction sentences, should come while you are finalizing your points. Write your thesis paragraph, then a paragraph each of the evidence, reasoning, and style sections, and then your conclusion. No matter what, try to leave some time at the end to look over your work. Remember that your readers will be grading your exam by looking at it on a computer screen, so do them a favor and write clearly.

Essay Writing Strategies

There are three major tips for actually tackling the essay that may shock you, but after you learn them I promise that they will make perfect sense. The first is simple: don't read the prompt. Seriously, don't! You know how some test prep experts will tell you not to bother with the instructions or just to glance at them to confirm? That goes for here as well. This is because even the SAT website says that the prompt will always be the same, or very close to it.

Second, go ahead and organize your essay around the three main points that the prompt wants you to find anyway: evidence, reasoning, and stylistic elements. If you are a formal outline person, those should be your big Roman numerals. If not, list them as headings and scribble down any references that fill those requirements. With that and a quick read through, much of your prep work is done. That means you have more time to focus on writing and perfecting your prose.

Finally, don't get too lost critiquing the author's work. It could be on something you find absolutely reprehensible, like the benefits of taking candy from a baby, but you shouldn't argue with the author. Instead, point out where his case is particularly weak or strong, especially by showing that they don't use evidence well or that their reasoning is off.

Oh, and one other thing: make sure you proofread your work. Even as I write this lesson, I still have to proofread because I get excited and occasionally skip a word. Sure, I'm thinking about it, but just as you can't imagine the word I had in mind, the SAT graders can't imagine what you were thinking.

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