3 Tips for the SAT Essay Section

Did you opt in to the Essay portion of the SAT? It can be helpful knowing some tips as you head into this optional part of the exam, especially if others in your study group declined to take it. Here are three things to remember on your test date:

Don’t Ignore Proper Essay Format

Just like any formal essay you wrote for high school, the SAT Essay response should have proper structure. This includes an introduction, a thesis, supportive paragraphs, and a conclusion. Your thesis should be clear and talk about the main purpose of the rest of your writing. The SAT will actually give you your topic for this part, so make sure your thesis draws from the information provided.

Although starting your essay can be tough, never skip the introduction paragraph. Not including it could severely hurt your grade. One trick that is often used is to skip the intro paragraph and return to it after you wrote the rest of the essay. This way you return to the beginning with a clear idea of what you were trying to prove or talk about.

The conclusion is just as important. Don’t end your essay on your last supporting point. Summarize what you wrote in clear sentences and make clear it is the end of your piece.

Try to Avoid Mistakes

This is a given. It is essential that you try to avoid mistakes on your SAT essay. Don’t panic if you think you made one or two, but during the test, take time to read over your work. You should avoid sounding repetitive (using the same word over and over within a paragraph or even throughout the entire essay), check for grammatical errors, and review your spelling. Try not to show off with over the top vocabulary, especially if you’re not perfectly clear on its meaning or proper spelling.

Stay on Topic

It can be easy to wander off into a ramble when you’re writing an essay, so try to stay relevant and stick to the topic you were given. You’ll want to use the info provided to you in the section’s passage, so focus your efforts there. Make sure you’re staying professional and not talking too informally as well.

On that same note, you only have a limited amount of time to write this essay. It’s important not to dwell on minute details, or even less important ones. This could severely cut into your time and leave you unable to adequately talk about more pressing facts later in your piece.

One of the best ways to get a real feel for the SAT Essay portion is to practice. Just like the rest of the exam, there are practice passages available online. You can time yourself, re-read your work, and see where you can improve. It’s also advisable that you have someone you trust, a teacher or a friend, read and edit your essay. They can give you a non-biased opinion of your work and give you more specific areas to work on.

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Hilary Cairns

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