How to Prepare for the SAT Essay


In this article we will explore one proven method for preparing for the SAT essay. But first, a bit of history:

The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is a college entrance and placement exam that was first administered in 1926. The SAT is created for the College Board by the Educational Testing Service. In 2005, the College Board modified the exam by adding a writing section and an essay along with adding Algebra II content to the math section and other changes. How to best prepare for the SAT essay is the focus of this article.

One way to improve your score on the SAT essay is by developing a particular formulaic approach and then practicing it over and over again until even the most difficult prompt will be answerable.

The reason this approach works is that your essay will be graded by specifically trained high school or college teachers who will review your essay holistically and grade it on a scale of 1 to 6. Each essay response will be graded by two people and their scores will be averaged together for your final score. These two individuals will be looking for your essay to contain certain components and if you give them what they're looking for, they'll reward you with a high score.

The SAT essay will be comprised of an essay prompt or question for which you will have 25 minutes to compose an answer. This essay question or prompt will most likely consist of an idea or opinion, on which you will need to choose a side and construct an argument. Here is a sample prompt:

Are people best defined by what they do? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

Read the prompt carefully. Notice that it asks you a yes or no question. Whether you answer yes or no doesn't matter at all. There is no right answer to this question. Rather, what is important is how well you back up your response with evidence.

After first choosing a side, you will construct an opening paragraph in which you state your thesis. You will then need to develop three distinct examples to back up your choice, devoting one paragraph to each example. You will end your response with a concluding paragraph where you restate your thesis. That makes for a total of 5 paragraphs. Here is how it looks in outline form:

Paragraph #1: State your thesis. Indicate with what evidence you will prove your point.

Paragraph #2: Example #1

Paragraph #3: Example #2

Paragraph #4: Example #3

Paragraph #5: Conclusion; restate thesis and review your evidence.

You will probably find it difficult to choose and elaborate on three distinct examples, at least at first. That is why it's important that you practice this formula repeatedly. It's OK if at first you can only come up with two examples. But the more you practice, the easier it will become. And the more essay prompts you expose yourself to, the easier your brain will find it to come up with three distinct examples about something you likely have never thought about.