The College SAT Essay
The College SAT Essay
Larry Freedman (Director, Freedman Educational Services) gives expert video advice on: What are the most common mistakes students make in writing the SAT essay?; What's the secret for getting a great score on the SAT writing section? and more...
What can I expect from the SAT writing section?
The SAT writing section basically has two components. There's the 25-minute SAT essay, and then there are 49 multiple-choice writing questions in which you'll have to identify sentence errors, correct sentences, and also answer questions that are based on improving passages.
What will I be asked to write about in the essay?
The essay requires that you answer a specific topic or prompt and to support your point of view with specific examples taken from history, literature, current events or personal experience. The question itself is always some very broad statement or quote such as, "Is it true that honesty is always the best policy?"; things that are so broad that you don't need to bring in any outside information to answer the question, although you do want to support the essay with specific examples.
What's the secret to writing a great SAT essay?
The most important secret in writing a good SAT essay is to start writing. Basically, twenty-five minutes goes by really quickly, so you have about three or four minutes of thought, and then you have to start writing. That's really important. The other thing you want to be aware of is presenting a well-organized essay. You want to go into the SAT with the idea you're going to write a four to five paragaph essay. The first paragraph, very clearly your introductory paragraph. The final paragraph, very clearly, your concluding paragraph. Then you want to have two or three body paragraphs that are each devoted to a specific example.
What are some strategies I can use while writing the SAT essay?
You want to write a four or five paragraph essay with the first paragraph very clearly your introductory paragraph making sure it has a clear thesis statement. Your last paragraph should be your concluding paragraph and then you want to have two to three paragraphs that are body paragraphs, each devoted to a specific example. An example from history, literature, current events or personal experience. I suggest going into the test with a bank of several literature examples, several history examples, several current event examples so that depending on what question they ask you on the essay prompt, you can just select the two or three most appropriate topics or examples for your essay. In addition, you want to write neatly. The readers of the essay are only human, so if they can not read it, they're not going to give you a very good score. Furthermore, you want to use some fairly sophisticated vocabulary. Some good SAT words. As long as you use them appropriately. You want to keep sentence structure at a fairly elevated level. If you write a well organized, and neat essay, you really can't lose.
What are the most common mistakes students make in writing the SAT essay?
Twenty-five minutes is not alot of time, and some students get in to trouble by sitting there for 10 or 15 minutes trying to think of the perfect examples to use or trying to understand the nuisances of the question. Don't, basically after 3 minutes, you have to start writing. Other students get into trouble with these essays by not providing specific examples. They'll use examples like when kids do bad things. You want to give specific examples from history, literature, current events or personal experience. Also, some kids have technical errors in their essays that the test readers are unable to make any sense out of what their trying to express. Also, a lot of students have terrible handwriting and if these essays are messy, they are not going to get a top score.
What's the secret for getting a great score on the SAT writing section?
The secret to getting a top score on the SAT writing section is to really have a good background in the elements of standard written English. Grammar, usage, a little bit of punctuation, the mechanics of writing are really what this part of the SAT is testing. So you want to be familiar with subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement, parallelism, comparisons and diction. These are things that really are not taught that much in many high school English classes, but they really are important in order to get a top score on the SAT multiple choice writing questions.