Exams Know-how

SAT Essay Writing Tips: All about the SAT Essay Preparation


The Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT consists of 2 major segments: evidence-based reading and writing, and mathematics. Apart from these two sections, there is also the SAT essay. The essay writing section has a specific and separate set of demands that you might need to satisfy in order to score well in this section. 

So, if you find yourself stressing at the prospect of taking on yet another section, take a deep breath and consider that the SAT Essay is completely optional. Stay with us till the end to know if you should opt for the SAT essay or not. And if you are, this blog will also give you lots of SAT essay writing tips, along with last minute SAT writing tips! 

  Table of Contents

  1. What is the SAT Essay?
  2. SAT Essay Structure
  3. Tips for Conquering SAT Essay
  4. Do’s and Don’ts for SAT Essay Writing Prepartion

What is the SAT Essay?

An optional section of the SAT exam, the SAT essay will give you a passage by an author who is taking a stance on an issue. Your job will be to analyse how the author built that argument. If you choose to take the essay, it will be its own section of the SAT, and the score you get on the essay will be separate from your score on the rest of the exam. 

Your main SAT score will be out of 1600 while your essay will be graded across three different categories: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. For each area, your essay will be given a score from 2-8.

Check Out the SAT Exam Syllabus 2022! 

SAT Essay Structure

While pursuing the SAT essay, you’ll be presented with a passage between 650 and 750 words. In the 50 minutes allotted to you, it’ll be your job to both read the passage and respond to the corresponding SAT Essay prompts. This tests your ability to analyse the author’s argument in terms of the author's use of evidence, reasoning, and other rhetorical techniques.

Sharing your opinions on the passage itself or simply summarising it will not successfully earn you a high overall score on this part of the SAT. one key SAT essay tips and tricks is to prepare ahead of time and walk into the test with a game plan! 

All about the SAT Exam Pattern! 

Tips for Conquering SAT Essay

Moving on, let us understand how to prepare for SAT essay. This section will make you familiar with the most important SAT writing tips, and the kind of SAT essay strategy that you should follow to ace the exam! 

  • Understand the SAT Essay Scoring System

The SAT essay is not scored as correct or wrong as the multiple-choice questions. Two evaluators will read your essay separately and give you a grade in the range of 1-4 for each of the 3 sections: reading, analysis, and writing. The two reader's scores are then added together. 

  • Your Reading score will reflect how well your essay shows that you understood the passage. 
  • Your Analysis score will reflect how well your essay analyzes how the author went about persuading the audience. 
  • Finally, your Writing score will reflect the cohesiveness of your essay as well as how well it demonstrates a command of language and the conventions of standard written English.
  • Study and Analyse Sample SAT essays

One crucial SAT essay strategy is analysing the high-scored sample SAT essay which will help you understand what exactly is expected in a good SAT essay. Take time to review the sample essays in detail and as you read through each of the example passages and corresponding responses, consider how and why the author used evidence, reasoning, and stylistic or persuasive elements.

  • Turn to Professional Writing and Editorial Outlets

One of the most crucial SAT writing test tips is to consistently read and analyse op-ed pieces from reputed media outlets. The more often you apply the skills required of you for the SAT Essay in your everyday life, the more prepared you’ll be to apply them in a test setting.

  • Prepare with Practice Essays

Quite common tips for writing SAT essay is to set aside an exact 50 minutes for the SAT essay as you would allow time for the rest of SAT paper practice. Take up the practice essay in a near actual test environment and evaluate your essay precisely.Compare your response to that of the student examples provided at different score points to discover possible weaknesses in your reading, analytics, and writing skills that you'll need to focus on in your preparations.

  • Read Your Test Day SAT Essay Passage Thoroughly

You may feel like you need to start writing as quickly as possible, but make sure you understand the author's argument thoroughly before beginning. Give yourself enough time to write, but don’t underestimate the importance of reading carefully as well.

  • Start with an Outline

Mapping out your approach for an introduction, body, and conclusion when the content is fresh in your mind will ensure that you don’t arrive at the end of your response with holes in your argument. An outline also helps you plan your writing by giving you a clear sense of direction when transitioning from one point to the next.

  • Start Strong, Build Strong, End Strong

‘First impact is the last impact’ will never make more sense to you than in your SAT essay. Make sure your essay has a really strong beginning and closure. Apart from that, the build-up has to be comparably impactful. 

  • Make Time for Edits

While not always possible, aim to leave some time at the end for review. In doing so, you may catch misinterpreted information or find other ways to further build on the points you made in your response. Rectifying your mistakes before giving in your answer scripts can save you the loss of a lot of marks.

Check Out the SAT Exam Syllabus 2022! 

Do’s and Don’ts for SAT Essay Writing Preparation

It is necessary to understand precisely what you have to do in your SAT Essay. Here is a list for how to prepare for SAT essay in the form of “Do’s”: 

  • Use a thesis statement
  • Use specific examples
  • Refer to specific ideas in the sample argument
  • Restate your thesis
  • Leave time to edit

Having seen the “Do’s”, it is also important to keep in mind what we don't have to do in our SAT essays: 

  • Don’t restate the prompt
  • Don't repeat yourself
  • Don't use phrases like “I think”, “I believe”
  • Don't push your sentence structure
  • Don't stuff your essay with big words

Suggested: What is the SAT Exam Eligibility Criteria? 

Because of the College Board’s recent decision to make the SAT essay optional, students are now faced with the decision of whether they should take it or not. The best way to decide is to learn the essay policy for each of the colleges you're interested in applying to. Some schools will still require the essay, some won’t even look at an applicant’s essay scores, and other schools don’t require the essay but will look at your score if you do take it. These last minute SAT writing tips will definitely help you up your game! 

Frequently Asked Questions about SAT Essay

Should You Take the SAT Essay?

What are the benefits and drawbacks of taking the SAT essay?

Is 3 months enough to study for the SAT?

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