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SAT Writing , SAT Essay


Writing an SAT essay consists of four major stages :

  • Reading : 5-10 minutes
  • Analyzing & Planning : 7-12 minutes
  • Writing : 25-35 minutes
  • Revising : 2-3 minutes

There’s a wide time range for a few of these stages, since people work at different rates. Some people, for instance, will be a lot faster at reading than they are at planning, while it might be the other way around for others. You'll need to find the timing combination that works best for you through a little bit of trial and error.

Writing takes the large bulk of the 50 minutes, but reading and analyzing and planning are equally important parts of the SAT essay writing process.

Stage 1: Read the Passage (5-10 minutes)

There are a couple of different ways to read through the passage on the SAT essay, each with their own advantages. No matter which strategy you use, though, make sure to keep an eye on the time so you don’t run out of time for analyzing and writing!

If you can just read straight through the passage without getting too hung up on details, go for it. This strategy works well for students who are naturally fast readers and don't have trouble getting distracted under time pressure.

If you’re a slow reader, get anxious about reading in timed situations, or find that the subject matter of the article is confusing, you might want to try skimming the article. You can use similar strategies to those you might use on SAT reading passages .

In either case, you'll want to make sure you get a good idea of the way the passage is laid out before you do a detailed pass through it. Why?

You'll probably end up reading through parts of the passage multiple times to make sure you fully understand it. Giving the passage a quick read-through before you do any detailed analysis can help cement which parts you'll want to come back to and which parts aren't as important.

When you go back do a more detailed reading of the article, sure to keep an eye out for argument-building techniques and to try to remain objective . You may want to circle or underline examples of these techniques as you read, which leads right into the next stage of SAT essay writing.

Stage 2: Analyze and Plan (7-12 minutes)

Many students resist planning on the SAT Essay because it already feels like there's not enough time to read and write, let alone take away some of that precious time for planning. But take it from us: you're better off with a plan. This is because the SAT essay graders look for a clear structure : introduction, conclusion, and specific evidence in between. It's almost impossible to create this kind of structure and still write quickly without a plan

You can write all over the passage as you analyze it – circle or underline key points , scribble in the margins, etc. This way, when you go back to quote the author in your essay, you’re not searching the text for the quote or supporting detail.

One way to mark up your passage is by numbering your examples and then circling and numbering any evidence from the passage you’ll be referring to in each paragraph. Another option is to write a brief description of the details from the passage in your planning and outlining, along with the location of the details. Taking this time during the analyzing and planning stage will end up saving you time in the long run.

I personally find it helpful to take notes as I read the passage and then organize them into an essay outline . Below are the TOTALLY LEGIBLE notes I took as I was analyzing the passage for the essay prompt:


As I was reading the passage, I scribbled down key details and the way I’d use them to support my thesis in the essay. For instance, I wrote, “ last paragraph – We need…we need (x4) -> overall use of “we” drawing reader into his POV ” in my notes. This describes what I want to talk about (the author's use of the word "We" and "We need"), what it means (it draws the reader into agreeing with his point of view), and where this is illustrated in the passage (last full paragraph).

I then organized these notes into some semblance of an outline I could use to plan the organization of my essay.


Here's a (rough) transcription of my outline:

Intro Facts/evidence -first paragraph stats and facts - to show issue is real, lend credibility -by not explaining has a couple of effects ->forces reader to draw own conclusions/think about which draws them into the argument ->alt makes reader look to author in rest o/article (b/c had facts at first + so can be trusted) Reasoning -acknowledges counterargument -so very easily could’ve gone on a rant abt twitter which would’ve undercut argument, disconnected from reader -instead, provides examples of when social media has been helpful (Arab Spring) -counterargument is more powerful as a result - take his “unease” more seriously Diction/style -“We” draws reader in, makes author sympathetic (not lecturing) -contrasts b/t ideal + real, b/t prof + amateur engage reader in the comparison, force to admit author is right -language elsewhere reinforces the idea that prof journalism under siege, words like “assailing” and “eroding” Conclusion

You can see that in the section labeled “Diction,” the first point is "We" draws reader in, makes author sympathetic (not lecturing)" .

You can combine these two steps if you’re comfortable enough doing it; I just find that separating them takes the pressure off to make sure that I take notes in an organized fashion.

Stage 3: Write Until 2-3 Minutes Are Left (25-35 minutes)

Once you have your analysis and planning done, it’s time to write like the wind. If you’ve taken notes and planned effectively, you should be able to jump right in and not have to go back and forth too much between the text and your essay.

Body Paragraphs

For most people, writing body paragraphs is easier than writing introductions. If this is the case, start with the body paragraphs, and just leave 10 lines or so at the top of the page to add the introduction later. One example should take up 1-2 paragraphs.

Let's use a methodical structure to try out a body paragraph about how the author uses a counterargument to add support to his own claim. The sample paragraphs below are all taken from an essay that I handwrote (and planned) in the 50-minute time limit.

Sample Body Paragraph

Start with a transition:

In addition to employing facts to his argument’s advantage, Goodman also cunningly discusses the counterargument to his position.

Then (briefly) introduce your topic:

By writing about how social media and man-on-the-ground reporting has assisted the state of foreign news reporting, Goodman heads off naysayers at the pass.

Explain the example’s context and relationship to your thesis:

It would have been very easy for Goodman to ignore the whole issue of citizen reporting, but the resultant one-sided argument would have been much less convincing. Instead, Goodman acknowledges things like “the force of social media during the Arab Spring, as activists convened and reacted to changing circumstances.” As a result, when he partially refutes this counterargument, stating the “unease” many longtime profession correspondents feel over the trend of ‘citizen journalism’ feel, the reader agrees.

Clearly state, in one sentence, how it is proof of your thesis:

Knowing that Goodman takes the power of social media seriously will make the reader more inclined, in turn, to take Goodman’s concern about the limits of social media seriously.

When you put all these pieces together, it’s a winning body paragraph. We start with a smooth transition from the introduction (or previous body paragraph), give enough background to understand why the example is relevant, and then connect it back to the thesis for the knockout punch.

Try to read through this again so the structure really makes sense to you.

Notice how this is formulaic – every one of your body paragraphs can be written in this structure , and you’ll get an excellent score! Having a structure like this will make many students less anxious about the new SAT essay.

You’d then go through the above process with the other 1-2 examples. In some cases, one very good example of the way the author builds his/her argument can be enough, if you can write 2-3 relevant paragraphs about it without repeating yourself. But having two examples is usually safer, because it gives you a better chance to show how well you've understood the passage.

Introduction and Conclusion

After finishing your body paragraphs, don't forget your introduction and conclusion paragraphs . Both should briefly mention the author’s argument and the examples you're using to support your thesis, but everything else is up to you. Some students write about the concept in general, and others just try to restate the thesis in different ways. Even a couple of sentences is better than nothing—try to scribble something in even if you're running out of time.

Sample Introduction Paragraph

In the article “Foreign News at a Crisis Point,” Peter S. Goodman eloquently argues the point that news organizations should increase the amount of professional foreign news coverage provided to people in the United States. Goodman builds his argument by using facts and evidence, addressing the counterarguments, and couching it all in persuasive and compelling language.

Stage 4: Revise (2-3 Minutes)

Much like planning on the SAT essay, revision seems unnecessary to most students. But trust us, it will help your score. There are two reasons for this:

  • Revising helps you change up your vocabulary and fix mistakes and/or illegible words
  • If you know you’ll revise, you can write much faster because you don’t have to worry about making it perfect

On the SAT essay, you can cross out words that you don’t want the grader to read. You don’t need to waste time erasing them, unless you want to replace them with something else.

So what do you do when you revise? Well, let’s take the body paragraph we wrote earlier and revise it. New text is bolded .

In addition to employing facts to his argument’s advantage, Goodman also cunningly discusses the counterargument to his position. By writing about how social media and man-on-the-ground reporting has assisted had some positive impact on the state of foreign news reporting, Goodman heads off naysayers at the pass. It would have been very easy for Goodman to ignore elide over the whole issue of citizen reporting, but the resultant one-sided argument would have been much less convincing. Instead, Goodman acknowledges things like “the force of social media during the Arab Spring, as activists convened and reacted to changing circumstances.” As a result, when he partially refutes this counterargument, stating his the “unease” many for longtime profession correspondents feel over the trend of ‘citizen journalism’ feel, the reader agrees. is much more likely to believe him. After all, Goodman acknowledges that social media does have some power. Knowing that Goodman takes the power of social media seriously will make the reader more inclined, in turn, to take Goodman’s concern about the limits of social media seriously.

At this point, you’ll have a complete winning essay.

Want to see what this essay looks like put all together? Read our article on how to get a perfect 8 on the SAT essay .

Our goal here was to show you how formulaic the SAT essay can be. By making the essay more predictable, you’ll go into every test with a game plan in mind , making the essay much easier (and less scary!).


"Guys guys guys! I figured out a plan for the SAT essay!"

Where to Go From Here

Now you know how to write an SAT essay. To put this information to good use, you need to practice with real SAT essay prompts . We’ve written the most comprehensive guide to SAT essay topics and prompts here .

Aiming for a perfect SAT essay score? Read our guides to get strategies on how to get an 8/8/8 on your SAT essay .

And if you haven’t read our 15 SAT essay tips article yet, do so now!

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Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

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how to write an essay in sat

The SAT Writing Section (Essay): Here’s What You Need to Know

how to write an essay in sat

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The SAT recently revamped itself to more accurately test what students learn in school. The new version is less deliberately tricky and confusing, but it’s still a challenging, exhausting test. Let’s say you’ve taken both the ACT and the SAT and you perform better on the SAT. Now that you’ve chosen it as your go-to test, how do you get through the essay portion, especially if you hate writing?

Fun fact: the SAT has plenty of new practice tests , which include essays. For the purposes of this post, I’ll be working from this practice essay , so it might be useful to have it open as you read. We’ll go through what’s expected, what scoring looks like, and how to go about writing the best essay you can.

Understand What You’re Being Asked to Do

The new SAT no longer asks you to make up ideas and references from scratch (which, honestly, is probably for the best). Instead, it provides you with an essay and asks you to analyze it, much in the same vein as an in-class analytical or an AP English Language essay.

The Assignment

The assignment reads as follows. At the top you’ll see a generic introduction for what to look for as you read:

As you read the passage below, consider how (the author of the passage) uses:

  • evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
  • reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
  • stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.

Then, at the bottom, the instructions get specific. For this essay, they read like this:

Write an essay in which you explain how Bobby Braun builds an argument to persuade his audience that the US government must continue to invest in NASA. In your essay, analyze how Braun uses one or more of the features listed in the box above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of his argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage. Your essay should not explain whether you agree with Braun’s claims, but rather explain how Braun builds an argument to persuade his audience.

What does this mean? Essentially, as you read, pick out the techniques the author uses to make his or her point, then write a detailed essay that covers a couple of the main ones. Brush up on your knowledge of literary terms and devices well in advance of writing the SAT essay. You don’t have to know them all, but know the most commonly used ones really well (tone, diction, imagery, simile/metaphor, allusion, rhetorical question, anecdote, and symbolism, to name a few) so you can rely on those. In an argumentative essay, like this one, an author will always use tone, diction (choice of words), and some kind of persuasion technique (Logos? Pathos? Ethos? Anecdote? etc.).

How is the essay scored? Two testers will read your essay and will provide a score of 1-4 on three different benchmarks: reading, analysis, and writing.

Did the writer understand the content? Did they quickly summarize the argument/point and then move quickly into their interpretation of it? Did they paraphrase and directly quote?

Did the writer not only identify the right literary terms/devices but assess their uses effectively? In other words, did the writer understand why the author used those devices and say so? Did the analysis integrate into the rest of the essay?

Is there a strong thesis, body paragraphs for each device, and a quick conclusion? (More on organization below.) Is the writing “strong,” i.e., sentence variety, no unnecessary words or repetition, strong words, and sophisticated reasoning?

The testers’ scores are then added together for an aggregate final score. So, a top score would be 8/8/8.

how to write an essay in sat

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Final Thoughts

Unless you’re being given extra time, you have exactly 50 minutes to complete the essay. This sounds like a lot (and it’s more than it used to be), but don’t be fooled. You’ll use the time.

Students with special accommodations might be able to take the test on a computer, but otherwise it’s a written test. Your test booklet will be scanned into a computer. If you make a mistake, don’t erase your work, because it causes smudges and can make it hard for the tester to read. Simply cross out and rewrite. The testers are trained not to read crossed-out material. If you’ve been told your handwriting is impossible to read, write a little more slowly than you might otherwise. Choose the style that’s more legible for you: print or cursive. When you write practice tests, give it to someone and ask if they can read it.

You’ll take the SAT essay last, after every other section has been completed. So you’ll be exhausted. There’s no way around that, unfortunately, beyond bringing snacks and water on test day and walking around during breaks to take the focus off your brain for a couple minutes. Practice is key; you’ll want to be able to read an essay quickly, pull out devices, and write a straightforward essay with a minimum of confusion and anxiety. Only practice and memorization of the right information will get you there.

As you prepare to take the SAT, take a look at some example essays that scored highly. It won’t be the same subject matter, but the structure and language will be aspects you can emulate.

Read with the Assignment in Mind

Imagine that your proctor has told you to turn to the essay section. You already know the basic assignment, so you can actually skip the top introduction and dive right in to the essay. Don’t get bogged down with unfamiliar words or the most complex sentences. You don’t need to absorb every single word of the essay. Read to find devices you can use. Circle them and ID them as you go. Don’t be picky right away—just observe and note what you see.

Go ahead and skim the bottom instructions, but even then the first sentence is the only really important one. In this case, the gist is: how does Braun persuade his audience to invest in NASA? Then, go back to the devices you found, and pick out the three strongest and/or most used devices to structure your essay. Can’t find three? Remember, an author always uses tone (point of view) and diction (word choice) so those are two easy ones if you’re stuck.

The process of reading and pulling out devices should take no more than eight minutes.

Make a Quick Outline

I know this one sound counterintuitive, given what I said about time limits, but bear with me. Just starting to write without a clear path is hugely problematic for timed essays. Even the best writers make a mental note of their general direction. Without planning, you might change directions mid-essay, forget your thesis and end up arguing something else, or wander off completely without realizing it.

The outline can be short and sweet. For example, with this practice essay, it could look like this:

Intro: Braun argues that continuing to invest in space tech and research keeps us competitive in the world economy. Devices: logos, imagery, allusion

Body 1: Logos (logic): paragraph 3, 5, 7

Body 2: Imagery: paragraph 4, 6

Body 3: Allusion: paragraph 8

Don’t even bother to include your conclusion in your outline. It’s pretty much the same content as your intro. Also, remember that you don’t need to tackle every aspect or device in the essay. Highlight where your devices are, then focus your analysis to those sections. In the outline above, I’ve structured the devices so that you’re going through the essay in almost chronological fashion. You don’t have to do this, but it makes the essay-writing a bit easier.

The process of outlining should take no more than two minutes.

Write Quickly but Methodically

Don’t waste a lot of breath with a big, drawn out introduction. State the argument of the author in one sentence, then your thesis, which should be a list of the three devices you plan to use. Keep it simple and easy, then move on.

For each body paragraph, make a quick topic sentence explaining which device you’re analyzing. Spend one sentence (ONLY one) summarizing how the author is using the device. Begin to use quotes or paraphrase; after each example, analyze why the author uses the device and the effect it has. About three quotes or examples are usually standard. Then, at the end of the paragraph, use one sentence to sum up the effect the device has on the whole essay. Use sample essays for examples of this structure.

See the numbers at the side of each paragraph? When you quote directly or summarize directly, put the number of the paragraph in parenthesis afterwards to cite where you’re getting the information from.

For your conclusion, simply restate what you’ve said before. If you’re feeling extra-confident, feel free to add a key takeaway from the analysis, but it’s not necessary. So, your conclusion can be two sentences just like your intro.

What if your writing style isn’t advanced or similar to the example essays? Work with a teacher or tutor who can help you develop your skills if you have the time. If not, just write simply and clearly. Don’t use overly technical words. Don’t make really long sentences just for the sake of doing so. Even simple, forceful language can be effective so long as your argument is good. So focus your attention on ensuring that you know what good analysis is and how to replicate it.

You’ll have 35 minutes to write. Keep an eye on the clock, but mostly just focus on writing quickly and clearly.

Leave a Few Minutes for Proofreading

Again, I know you’ll be flying through this essay at lightning speed to get everything done effectively. But this one’s important too. When you write quickly, grammar and spelling can fall by the wayside. That’s totally normal, so don’t freak out. But you will be graded on such aspects in your final score, so leave 5 minutes max at the end to skim through your essay, pinpoint where you made mistakes, cross out the word or phrase, and write the correct word or phrase above it. Try to make corrections clearly so that the tester knows which version to read.

And that’s it! Easy, right? (Totally kidding.) As with everything else, practice will help. If you’re not already doing this kind of essay in class, do a few practice essays at home. Make sure you do the EXACT process start to finish: time yourself, write an outline, and so on. Part of success is building the muscle memory to go into the essay with a solid base of experience and confidence that you’ll succeed.

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how to write an essay in sat

Absolutely Essential SAT Writing Strategies

tl;dr: The SAT essay is graded on three metrics — Reading, Analysis, and Writing — each on a scale from 1-4. To score an 8/8/8 on the SAT essay, you need to understand the rubric and keep in mind the three important parts of the essay: analyzing the prompt, outlining, and writing. Analyzing the prompt requires you to identify the author’s claim, purpose, tone, and persuasive elements that help build the argument. Outlining helps you answer the three questions for each device—why, how, and affect—to ensure you have strong analysis. Finally, when writing the essay, make sure to include an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. With these tips, you can write a great SAT essay and get the top score!

❓ What are the SAT Sections?

In the SAT, you will have 4-5 sections on the test (depending on whether you choose to take the essay section or not)! The sections are:

  • Check out this video with an overview of the reading section of the SAT .
  • Writing and Language (aka the Grammar section)
  • Make sure to watch this video with tips and tricks for the grammar section of the SAT .
  • Math (No-Calculator)
  • Review the important aspects of the math section with this SAT math review part 1 and part 2 .
  • Math (Calculator Allowed)
  • Writing/Essay (⚠️OPTIONAL ⚠️)

If you signed up for the essay portion of the SAT, you have a relaxing 2-minute break after the math calculator section. You're going to need it, as you have 50 minutes to write a rhetorical analysis essay. ⏲️

If you are taking AP Lang or have already taken the exam, you should be pretty familiar with this format of essay. It is very similar to FRQ 2, or the rhetorical analysis essay. 📰

✍️ Mastering the Rubric

Your essay is graded on these three metrics on a scale from 1-4:

Two readers will score your essay , so the highest score you can receive is an 8 on each of the three sections. Unlike the other SAT sections, there is no percentile for the SAT essay nor a composite score (the three categories aren't "added"). 💯 Let's break down each of these three scoring categories and how you can score an 8 in all three.

Grading Rubric

This scoring category covers comprehension! Essentially, the scorers want to see if you understand the relationship between the main idea(s) and important details. To get an 8 in this scoring category, you cannot misstate facts from the passage, nor make an interpretation about facts not in the passage.

One of the main things that SAT Essay scorers will check is to ensure you have textual evidence (quotations and/or paraphrases) throughout the essay to ensure that you have a true understanding of the text. 📚

What separates an 8 from a lower score in this category is whether you have thorough (as opposed to effective) comprehension of the text and whether you are making skillful (as opposed to appropriate) use of textual evidence. The line between thorough and skillful is drawn at your consistency; if you make a misrepresentation of text in just one place, that may lower you to a 6.

To earn a 8 in the analysis category, you should be accomplishing the following:

  • Offering an insightful analysis of source text.
  • Evaluating the author's choice of evidence, reasoning, stylistic & persuasive elements, and/or other features that you noticed.
  • Using relevant, sufficient, and strategically chosen support for your claims or points.
  • Consistently focusing on features that are most relevant to addressing the task.

What separates an 8 in analysis from a lower score is whether you have strategically chosen support for claims and whether your essay is consistent in its analysis and its focus on "features most relevant to addressing the task."

The writing rubric category is exactly what it sounds like—checking your ability to write an essay! There are a number of guidelines that SAT essay scorers will be looking at, and here are a few of them that will help you earn an 8:

  • A cohesive essay that effectively uses and commands language
  • A precise central claim
  • Skillful introduction and conclusion
  • Progression of ideas that is highly effective both within paragraphs and throughout the essay
  • Wide variety in sentence structures
  • Consistent use of precise word choice
  • Formal style and objective tone
  • Strong command of English conventions, an essay free of errors

Student writing on paper

Consistency is also key to getting a high score in this category. Having a mostly cohesive essay or including a few errors could bump your score down to a 6 or below!

📖 Analyzing Prompt and Passage

On test day, you're not going to see the rubric or even the three scoring categories. All you will get is the prompt and passage. It's important you analyze and annotate the prompt and passage to ensure you can write an effective essay.

On test day, you'll see this at the beginning of the essay.

Sample prompt and passage

The most important thing to do before you even start reading the passage is to read the given context. In this example, we know that the article is from the Huffington Post and the author Peter Goodman is writing about crisis and foreign policy. 🔥

Then, you'll read a passage about an argument written for a broad audience. In that passage, the author will make a claim, and use different techniques to persuade the audience of that claim.

Since you will be writing about how the author uses different techniques in the passage to make their argument more persuasive, that is exactly what you should look out for while writing your essay. 🔍

When reading the passage, you'll want to look at the three bullet points given in the prompt: specific factual evidence or examples, reasoning that connects evidence and claims, and other stylistic or persuasive elements that helps the author build the argument. 🚧

Here's a short bullet list of stylistic or persuasive elements that you can look out for:

  • Shifts of any kind (in diction 🗣️, tone 😤, imagery 🖼️, etc.)
  • Appeals to emotion 💕, logic 🧠, or credibility 👩🏽‍🎓
  • Syntax (organization of paragraphs 📑, length of sentences ↔️)
  • Unique diction or imagery (make sure to describe diction/imagery with an adjective )

After you find the rhetorical devices you want to analyze, you'll need to answer three important questions:

  • Why does the author use this device or strategy?
  • How does this device or strategy help them achieve their purpose?
  • How does the device or strategy affect or change the audience?

You can strengthen your analysis and answer these three questions for each of your devices by outlining.

🗒️ Outlining

There are a few components to an outline that will help you secure an 8/8/8 on the SAT essay:

  • Identifying audience & author's purpose
  • Writing a thesis
  • Identifying rhetorical devices
  • Answering the three important "analysis" questions for each rhetorical device

On test day, find some white space under the article (or on the next page) to write your outline. Knowing and writing down these elements will make the writing process go a lot smoother!

📝 Writing the Essay

Let's break down how to write each section of the SAT essay portion: the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.


There are a few elements that you should explicitly include in your introduction:

  • Author's claim in the passage
  • Author's tone & purpose
  • Audience of passage
  • Specific rhetorical choices or persuasive elements in the passage that "enhance logic/persuasiveness" of the argument

One example template for an introduction is:

Template for essay introduction

Here's an example:

Writer Marcus Stern in his article, "How to Prevent an Oil Train Disaster," asserts that new Obama-era regulations in 2015 were insufficient in protecting the public's safety and needed to be expanded. Stern adopts a critical tone to persuade his audience, the general public, of his purpose of supporting stricter, comprehensive regulations that reduce oil volatility. To achieve his purpose, Stern utilizes a variety of rhetorical techniques, including but not limited to specific credible evidence, appeals to the general public's fear of disaster, and emotional word choice that enhances the logic and persuasiveness of his argument.

Body Paragraphs

Your body paragraphs should create a line of reasoning , which is just a fancy of way of saying that it should follow the structure you outline in the essay. For instance, from the introduction paragraph above, I would make my first body paragraph about the "specific credible evidence," my second body paragraph about the appeals to the general public, and so on. 🤩

⚠️ Note: There is no minimum or maximum number of body paragraphs that you should include —focus on developing solid body paragraphs rather than including as many as possible!

You should include the following in a body paragraph to earn high scores on reading, analysis, and writing:

  • A strong introduction sentence tied to the thesis
  • Embedded quote or paraphrase with context
  • Why the author uses this rhetorical strategy or persuasive element
  • How it affects the audience and/or how it helps the author achieve their purpose
  • Link back to thesis

Let's see these five elements in an example!

  • Stern furthers his argument by appealing to the general public’s fear of disaster.
  • He invokes specific visual imagery when asserting that an oil tanker rupture would send a “mushroom-shaped fireball” into the sky. In fact, Stern further builds his argument by citing the “nine other places in North America” in which oil tanker explosions materialized.
  • Stern uses these appeals to logic and emotion primarily because they highlight a somber reality of the impacts of continued inaction.
  • Because Stern includes multiple instances of oil explosions, the audience feels logically impacted. This sense of urgency communicated by the visual imagery makes the audience more convinced that action must be taken, specifically because it could harm them very soon.
  • Ultimately, Stern successfully leaves the audience convinced that lax oil restriction could lead to devastating consequences that could harm the audience, which strengthens the persuasion of his argument that we should enact strict regulation that decreases volatility.

US Coastguard extinguishing fire in ocean

You may hear sometimes from your teacher that the conclusion is not that important, or that it can simply be one sentence. This is not true for the SAT; in fact, you could get points taken off the writing section with an oversimplified or non-existent conclusion.

However, you can score highly with a slightly reworded introduction! Here's what you should include in your conclusion:

  • Author's central claim (reworded from intro)
  • Persuasive elements/rhetorical choices
  • Audience & author's purpose

Here's an example conclusion paragraph that includes those elements (and you can see its parallel to the intro):

Author Olmer Stern communicates to the general public that there is a necessity for stricter safety regulations that decrease oil volatility. To convince the audience of his purpose, Stern effectively invokes fearful emotion of the general public, cites specific evidence from the oil industry, and communicates powerful diction about the imminent oil threat to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of his argument.

📂 Resources and Example Essays

There are some fantastic ways to practice for the SAT essay! Here are some useful resources and example essays :

  • Two sample SAT Essay prompts from College Board's website
  • 50 CrackSAT Practice Essays and Prompts

Guide Outline

Related content, sat math: guide to quadratic equations & radicals, sat math: guide to linear equations, sat math: how to use your calculator, sat reading: guide to the social science passage, how to study for the sat/psat english sections, sat language: guide to word choice & passive flow.

how to write an essay in sat

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Thinking about tackling the SAT Essay? Here's what you need to know: you'll be asked to read a text (typically a speech or editorial of some sort) and discuss how the author effectively builds an argument. This might be a familiar task if you’ve done it in school, but if not, don’t worry. The format is straightforward, and with some practice, you can learn how to write a great SAT essay.

What is the SAT essay?

The SAT essay is optional and costs an additional fee of $17.00. Currently, only 25 colleges and universities require the SAT essay. You can find a searchable list of school requirements for the essay here . If there is any chance that you might apply to one of those schools, you should sign up for the essay. If you are not sure where you will apply, you should strongly consider signing up for the essay. Your essay score will appear on every score report you send to colleges, regardless of whether or not the school requires an essay. 

Here are 5 tips for writing a killer SAT essay, should you decide to add on that section:

SAT essay tips

1. Stay Objective

The thing to remember here is that ETS (the company that writes the test) is not asking you for your opinion on a topic or a text. So be sure to maintain formal style and an objective tone. Tip: Avoid “I” and “you.

2. Keep It Tidy

Handwriting is becoming a lost art. Unfortunately, this is one occasion where your skill with a pencil matters. Graders read tons of essays each day. If they cannot decipher your script, they will lower your score. Do yourself a favor and write legibly.

3. (Indented) Paragraphs Are Your Friend

Remember the basic essay structure you learned in school: introductory paragraph, body paragraphs and a conclusion? The SAT essay graders love it! Your introduction should describe the text and paraphrase the argument being made, as well as introduce the specific elements of the passage and argument that you will discuss in the essay. Your conclusion should restate the goal of the passage/argument and sum up the points you made.

Read More: SAT Tips and Strategies

4. For Example…

Use your body paragraphs to back up your thesis statement by citing specific examples. Use short, relevant quotes from the text to support your points.

5. Don't Worry About the Exact Terms for Things

Blanking on terminology? When describing how the author builds his or her argument, “appeal to the emotions” is fine instead of specifically referencing “pathos.” And “comparison of two things” can be used instead of referring to a metaphor. If you do know the official terms, though, feel free to use them!

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The SAT Essay

Written by tutor ellen s..

The SAT has undergone a significant number of changes over the years, generally involving adjustments in the scoring rubric, and often in response to steadily-declining or increasingly-perfect test scores. When the SAT was changed in 2005, however, they made some significant changes to the test that students see. One of these changes was the addition of the writing section, based on the original SAT II subject test, which includes a timed essay. In including a timed essay on an otherwise multiple-choice test, the SAT throws a problem at students that they are generally unprepared to solve.

Because high school classes usually don’t discuss timed essays, students can have difficulty when faced with the SAT essay. You’ll need a different set of skills to tackle the SAT essay, and ideally a completely separate amount of time to practice those skills. In this lesson I’ll give you an overview of the differences between timed essays and at-home essays, and share my tips for successfully completing a well-organized, well-thought-out SAT essay.

First, the differences. In a timed essay, you’re given the prompt on the spot rather than having an idea of what the topic will be beforehand, as you would if you were writing an essay for an English class. On the SAT, you get one prompt and one prompt only, so you don’t even have the benefit of choosing one that works for you – you have to write about whatever they give you. In addition you’re writing everything out longhand, which eats up more time than you might think and makes it harder to make edits and corrections – particularly if you have bad handwriting and you’re worried about staying legible. And just forget about rearranging paragraphs and reorganizing whole sentences – you’ll never have time for that!

The Difference Between the SAT Essay and At-Home Essays

All of this means that you have to be much more organized right from the get-go than you would be in a natural writing process. You’ll need to read the question, think for a few moments, and then immediately form an opinion so you can start the actual writing as soon as possible. So for all timed essays, and the SAT essay in particular, I strongly emphasize the importance of prewriting. Prewriting can take many forms, from word clouds to concept nets, but for the SAT, I recommend the basic straightforward outline – with a few tweaks. Here’s my formula for SAT essay outlines.

How to Outline Your Essay

First, read the prompt through a couple of times. SAT essay prompts usually follow a set format involving the statement of an opinion, and then asking whether you agree or disagree with that opinion. Let’s take an example from the January 2014 test date, courtesy of the College Board website:

Some see printed books as dusty remnants from the preelectronic age. They point out that electronic books, or e-books, cost less to produce than printed books and that producing them has a much smaller impact on natural resources such as trees. Yet why should printed books be considered obsolete or outdated just because there is something cheaper and more modern? With books, as with many other things, just because a new version has its merits doesn’t mean that the older version should be eliminated.

Assignment: Should we hold on to the old when innovations are available, or should we simply move forward? 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. ( Source. )

he first thing I recommend when confronted with an SAT essay prompt is to ask yourself the question “Do I agree or disagree with the premise of the prompt?” That’ll usually be the last sentence of the first paragraph in the prompt. In this case, do you agree that “just because a new version has its merits doesn’t mean that the older version should be eliminated”? Now write the phrase “I agree” or “I disagree” at the top of your scratch paper accordingly. Put some asterisks around it so you remember to keep checking back in with it during the writing. This opinion is the most important part of your essay, so you want it to be clear in your mind. Next, ask yourself “Why do I agree?” or “Why do I disagree?” The first sentence you say to yourself in response to that question is your rough thesis statement. Jot that down under the first phrase. So, my response to our example would look like this:

* I agree * While the new version might have its merits, the original often has merits of its own.

Again, this is very rough at this stage, but on the SAT you’re trying to prewrite fast, so don’t worry too much about that. On to the body paragraphs!

On a 25-minute essay, you probably won’t have enough time for a full five-paragraph structure with three sub-examples for each point. Two body paragraphs and two examples of each will suffice. You never want to rely on just a single example, though, or you’ll likely lose points for not supporting your statements enough. Write out a template for the body of your essay that looks like this:

I. Main point 1 A. Example 1 B. Example 2 II. Main point 2 A. Example 1 B. Exampple 2

Remember, it’s an outline, so no full sentences. Write only as much as you need to remind yourself of your points. So for our example, my outline would look like this:

I. The “Tangible” aspects A. A book never runs out of battery B. Can read it in the sun, by the pool or in the bathtub – places you wouldn’t want to take a piece of electronics II. The “non-tangible” aspects A. The smell of a new book, tactile sense of turning pages, experience of closing it when you finish B. Ability to get lost in a book, to lose sense of place and become the story

At this point I can see a slight revision I’d make to my original thesis statement, which is the idea that an e-book can never mimic the tactile experience of reading (smelling the book, turning pages, etc.) I’ll quickly adjust my thesis to say:

While the new version might have its merits, the original offers a tactile experience that the new can’t hope to achieve – an experience that can’t be mimicked by technology.

Perfect. All told, your prewriting should have taken you 3 to 5 minutes, most of which was thinking. Now, on to the paper itself!

Writing Your Essay

Okay, here’s my biggest timed-essay secret: don’t start with the introduction. Start by skipping five or six lines down the page, leaving space for an introduction that will be inserted later. Start with your first body paragraph. Work from your outline, converting your points into full sentences and connecting them with transitions, and you should be at a good start. Once both body paragraphs are written, continue on and write your conclusion. Then, go back and write your introduction in the space you left at the beginning. That way, you’ll know what you’re introducing since it’s already written.

I generally recommend about 15 minutes of writing time for the body paragraphs, followed by 5 minutes for the intro and conclusion. Depending on how quickly you got your prewriting done, that leaves you with one or two minutes to look it over, fixing any spelling mistakes or sloppy handwriting. Don’t try to change too much, though – when you’re writing everything out longhand, changes require erasing. We do so much writing on computers these days that sometimes we forget how long it takes to erase a whole sentence and rewrite it. A better tactic is to think through each sentence in your head before you write it down, making sure you have it phrased the way you want it before you put pencil to paper. But don’t spend too long – try it a few times and you’ll find that writing four full paragraphs longhand actually takes about 25 minutes to do – on a good day. You should expect to be writing pretty much continuously for the entire 25 minutes.

Keeping Track of Time, Staying Comfortable, and More Advice

Speaking of which, when you practice your timed essays, pay attention to how your hand feels while you’re writing. The first few times you’ll likely be sore; your hand might even cramp up from writing so hard. It’s tiring to write for that long, so make sure you’re helping yourself. Write lightly on the paper – it’s easy to start pressing down super hard when you’re nervous and panicking. Writing lightly will not only help stave off the hand cramps, it’ll also make erasing much easier when you need to do it. Sit back in your chair while you write – you don’t need to be three inches from your paper to see the words you’re putting down, and hunching over will just make you press harder. Bring your attention to your breathing – are you holding your breath? Why? Try breathing deeply and slowly while you write – it’ll calm your brain and help you think.

Finally, a word about the writing itself – don’t forget you’re on a clock here. Often, you begin to notice as you write that your opinion about the topic is evolving, changing, developing nuances and side areas you want to explore. I know this sounds weird, but you’ve got to try to rein that in – those are all fine things to be thinking about ordinarily, and in an at-home essay I’d say go for it, but you don’t have time to change what you’re writing about in this situation. Sometimes, you’ll even get halfway through a timed essay and realize that you actually don’t agree like you thought you did. Save that thought for later. You’ve got the outline of an organized essay, and that’s what you should be writing. It doesn’t matter at this point if you actually still agree with what you’re saying, all that matters is that you state a clear opinion and communicate it well. After all, the test grader doesn’t even know you – how’s she to know that you don’t really think this anymore? Stay confident and get your original idea out on paper.

For example, the outline I gave above is a perfectly accurate depiction of my opinion on the topic – as it relates to books. However, if we were to start talking about, say, writing essays…I’d probably say that no, I don’t think we should hold on to writing essays out by hand when there are computers available. After all, I’m writing this article on a computer. I’ve copied and pasted multiple paragraphs of information back and forth around this lesson as I was looking for appropriate ways to introduce concepts, and that would have taken forever if I had been writing by hand. But if that thought had occurred to me midway through writing my timed essay about books, I would have acknowledged it for the briefest of moments and then disregarded it. My essay is about books. I’ll just stick to that so I can keep it clean and organized.

Don’t worry about the test graders thinking “But what about X?” – they know you only had 25 minutes and can’t possibly fit every aspect of the argument into that amount of time – or space, for that matter. The scoring rubric focuses on what is present, not what is omitted. As long as you have a clear point of view and are communicating it well, you’ll fulfill their criteria. Remember, this essay’s not in the critical reading section, it’s in the writing section. They’re not in the business of judging the merits of your opinion, just how clearly you’ve communicated it and how well you’ve supported it.

Your timed essays will probably turn out very different than the essays you write at home for class. They might seem stiff, straightforward or brusque; with a limited amount of time you can’t create the subtle, nuanced arguments that your English teachers are probably looking for. But what you can do is create a well-organized, concise presentation of a relatively straightforward point of view, supported by concrete examples that all point toward the same central concept. The SAT essay responds well to a formulaic approach, so while it may take some practice, you will eventually be able to handle a 25-minute essay prompt with confidence.

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How to Write the SAT Essay

how to write an essay in sat

Understanding how to write the SAT essay can be a little intimidating.  There’s no multiple choice to fall back on with the SAT essay. It’s just you, some paper, and a Number 2 pencil, writing an essay out of thin air.

When it feels so open-ended, how do you know exactly what to write for your SAT essay, an essay possibly unlike anything else you’ve written in school?  Lucky for us, the SAT drastically changed its content a few years ago, and the essay is completely different now–and totally formulaic.

You can go into any SAT test totally ready to write the essay, no matter what passage the test offers you.You can be that much more confident about how to write the SAT essay now if you understand a little bit about the old essay and why it’s gone.

Why They Had to Change the Old SAT Essay

Ultimately, the old SAT essay was universally acknowledged as a pretty pointless exercise. It asked students to crank out shoddy, sometimes vapid essays that didn’t resemble anything they’d need to write in college and didn’t give them much room to show off their analytical skills. Basically, kids would read a couple quick prompts, pick a side of a silly argument, and crank an essay out in 25 minutes.The College Board decided this just wasn’t working for them and dumped that whole approach.By noticing exactly what the College Board changed, we can uncover the inside track on how to write an SAT essay.

SAT Essay Basics and What They Tell Us

Table of Contents

You’re given 50 minutes to write the SAT essay.

The days of turning in a glorified rough draft are gone: you have just short of an hour to write the SAT essay, which tells us that the College Board wants an essay that’s extremely organized, thoughtful, and, if you’re going for a top score, even polished.Look out, though: since some students take the essay section and others don’t, the essay comes after the rest of the test so that kids who aren’t writing an essay can go home. Point being, you might be tired by the time it’s time to write.Fifty minutes can fly by when you’re mentally wiped out, so it’s important to be prepared.

No more surprise topics: the SAT essay is always the same assignment.

It’s easier to be prepared when the essay assignment itself is more predictable. The SAT essay section uses an almost identical prompt on every single test; the only thing that differs is the source material, the passage you’ll read and write from.Straight from the College Board, here’s what the prompt will say :“As you read the passage below, consider how [the author] uses evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.

evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.

reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.

stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.

Write an essay in which you explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience that [author’s claim]. In your essay, analyze how [the author] uses one or more of the features listed above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of [his/her] argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage. Your essay should not explain whether you agree with [the author’s] claims, but rather explain how the author builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience.”

The SAT essay is ONLY an analysis of someone else’s work and ideas.

You’ll find specific tips on how to write the SAT essay below, but did you catch that last sentence in the official prompt?They aren’t kidding: do not go into whether you agree with the author.Think about it this way: the SAT evolves to serve its real customers–colleges–and respond to growing trends they observe in American high schools. They certainly aren’t concerned with teen trends like denim cuts and hairstyles, but they absolutely worry about school trends like widespread grade inflation.You may think it’s wonderful that you can earn extra credit to cover a poor test score, but the College Board is adjusting its tests based on how much grade adjustment is becoming available. Moreover, they wonder if you have strong grades based solely on writing tasks in which you pontificate about your own opinions.Colleges that require the essay for admission want to be sure that you can prepare a solid, academic analysis based entirely on someone else’s ideas. In that case, show them what they want to see and leave your own opinion out of it.

Writing the SAT Essay is Relevant To College Work

While it might take some practice, the SAT essay is very similar to the sort of writing you’ll do in college: say, analyzing why an artist or politician made the choices he made at a particular time. It’s genuinely worthwhile to learn how to write the SAT essay well.After all, doing well in college is the whole point of the SAT, anyway.Let’s look at how you’ll do that.

How To Write an SAT Essay

First, writing an essay is a game of strategy, and–just like in any other game–you’ll build your strategy based on the way you’ll earn points.Two different readers read your essay and grade it independent of each other. You’ll be scored in three different areas, each on a scale of 1 to 4. Those two scores are added together and your official essay score will be reported as three subscores, each out of 8 possible points.I always tell my students that the absolute hardest part of learning to write anything is figuring out what exactly is important enough to include in your work (so we’re clear on what you’re saying) and what to leave out (because you’ll sound like you think your reader is an idiot if you spell out everything ) . The art of writing strikes that balance, and it takes practice.The College Board offers examples of real essays with all sorts of combinations of scoring for the three scored dimensions, which you can learn from here , but here’re the basics:

Scoring Dimension One: Reading

The reading dimension of the essay rates how well you show that you understand what the author of the passage is saying; you’re showing off your reading comprehension in real time, just like in the multiple choice reading section of the SAT.In other words, your essay reader wants to see that you can correctly identify the author’s argument and the specific supporting details she uses to make that case.

How To Improve Your SAT Essay Reading Score

Get out of the gate quickly: in your introduction say that [the author] argues that [what the author wants her audience to believe]. Remember: they want to know that you get it .

Use direct quotes from the passage, just like you would in a paper in school. Don’t extract big chunks, though. Just like your English teacher doesn’t want you to copy down two hundred words from A Tale of Two Cities to stretch the word length of a school assignment, the SAT essay readers want you to extract only snippets and phrases to incorporate into your own writing.

Here’s an example sentence to show you how to work a small quote into your own work: When the College Board website says SAT essays must be “free of… errors of interpretation,” it means that we can’t say the author meant A when she clearly meant B.

Scoring Dimension Two: Analysis

You earn a strong analysis score by explaining how the author builds her argument and appeals to her audience to get them to agree with her. If you want to know how to write an SAT essay, you have to know how other people make their arguments persuasive.

How To Improve Your SAT Essay Analysis Score

Be able to identify logos, ethos, and pathos, also known as the three rhetorical appeals. People in academia have been thinking about the usefulness of these rhetorical appeals for literally thousands of years, so knowing and identifying them can go a long way.

Your SAT essay reader will reward you when you notice

Ethos: the mechanisms that an author uses to build a sense of authority or credibility, thereby earning an audience’s trust. Here an author will go into detail about her own experience, education, or background.

Pathos: these are appeals to audience emotion. When someone arguing to protect the Arctic says, “Think of the poor polar bears,” that’s an appeal to emotion. It’s incredibly effective. Anything an author uses that evokes emotion is part of persuasion and qualifies as part of the argument.

Logos: the facts and sense of rationality an author brings to the table. Yes, you should actually spell out that it strengthens an argument when an author cites facts, figures, and historical situations.

In fact, feel free to use these three ideas as the framework for the body paragraphs of your own SAT essay; if they were good enough for Aristotle, they’re good enough for you.

Scoring Dimension Three: Writing

Finally, remember this is a writing sample, so the mechanics and style of your writing matter, too.

Structure: You need to write a well organized essay that includes a clear introduction, a thesis, and a conclusion. Don’t waste time: give us an intro and a thesis within two or three sentences. When you notice yourself running out of time at the end, make sure you wrap your essay up with a conclusion, even if it’s only a sentence.

Make sure your body paragraphs are concise, independent arguments. Every time you write a sentence, ask yourself, “So what?” It’ll help you know what to say next. If you catch yourself going off the rails, at least be sure the last sentence in each paragraph relates specifically back to your thesis up top.

Vary your sentence structure for sizzle.Study how to correctly use a colon, semicolon, and dash, since you’ll be tested on them in the multiple choice writing section, anyway.Start sentences with words like although and while . These words automatically change your sentence structure, which makes it sound more lively.

While the SAT essay is not a spelling test, the people who read SAT essays for their jobs are the same sorts of people who spell well and are likely to be distracted by goofy mistakes. Don’t give them any reason to doubt you: whenever you can, write with advanced vocabulary words you know–and know how to spell.

Remember, while it may take you time to write the best SAT essay you can, it’ll pay off, both for your score and where it matters most: college. For additional resources on preparing for the SAT test, check out our article on the best SAT prep courses and SAT practice books .

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How to Write a SAT Essay: Writing step by step Guide

  • Updated On December 19, 2022
  • Published In SAT 👩‍🎓

SAT essay is one of the major aspects of the assessment process; it checks how the students frame arguments and provide solutions to various problems. As announced by the College Board, from June 2021 onwards, there would be no essay portion of SAT. However, some schools still require a SAT essay submission as a part of School Day administration. Some states including Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma, will be using SAT with Essay in 2022. Although the rules are ever-changing, the students should keep tracking any new regulations or notices.

Table of Contents

Overview of SAT Essay Writing

SAT essays require the candidates to complete a write-up using proper grammar vocabulary and analysing arguments in an exciting and engaging tone. In addition, with essays for SAT exams, students also prepare for their college essays.  Essay topics for SAT focus on issues like politics, culture, science, or arts. This is because most essays need to be supported with arguments and examples. For those looking for a guide to writing excellent essays, here are some tips and tricks to help you win the game.

Basic Structure and Purpose of SAT Essay Writing

  • A passage of 600- 750 words is given to the applicant.
  • Students need to read them and respond accordingly.
  • Fifty minutes are given to complete the essay.
  • The SAT essay evaluates the applicant’s ability to reason and understand an author’s argument.
  • Task remains the same for every essay, the only part of analysing changes in the reading selection.
  • You must remember your goal is not to agree or disagree with the author. Rather than explain the argument and how it persuades its audience.

Stages of Writing a SAT Essay

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How to Write a SAT Essay: Writing step by step Guide

  • Take the first 5-10 minutes to read the passage.
  • Invest the next 7-12 minutes in analysing and planning your points.
  • Do not take more than 35 minutes to write the essay.
  • In the remaining 2-3 minutes, revise thoroughly to avoid mistakes.

SAT Essay- Step by Step Guide

Read properly.

Not all of you have the same pace in reading, so it is better to follow your speed. Students who can read quickly without getting into too many details go for it. This is a proven strategy that works for fast readers. Some of the students who are slower readers can adapt to the method of reading only important parts of the section. This strategy works effectively as well. Another tip is to read the passage once without analysing then go through it the second time to frame your pointers. When reading the same for the second time, try to build arguments and remain objective. You can also highlight the important words or phrases.

Draw a structure

Before writing, planning is very important. Some students feel that planning the essay is not required since the time is limited. On the contrary, having a structure or framework saves time. For instance, roughly write which sections you are going to focus on. This will save you a lot more time than you expect. 

Jot down details

Some prefer writing key points while reading; others accumulate important notes after reading. Both the methods work; you can choose anyone according to your preferences. Scribbling notes while reading is very helpful for writing. If you have the highlights of the passage, you will be clear about what to put in the introduction, body, and conclusion.

Add an introduction

Now you can start writing. Begin with a brief introduction. You need not pour in all the details in the beginning.  The style of the introduction will decide the flow of the essay. As the time is limited and you will have to make it one-shot-okay, be careful about the diction. You must not sound rude or lecturing in your essay. 

The body must contain details

Some students prefer to start with the body and then add the introduction. If this process works for you, continue with it. Those who want to maintain parity and follow a methodological structure follow the same.  As a writer, you must remember the body of the essay contains most of the details; thus, frame sentences accordingly. Use transitions and examples to make your essay richer and more authentic.

Add a concluding note

In conclusion, make sure the tone of the essay remains the same. In order to make an argument or analyse the author’s point of view, students sometimes tend to change the tone of writing. Concluding notes must have a brief mention of the author’s argument along with examples that have been used in the body. Do not miss the conclusion; it is more than enough, even if you are writing two-three sentences.

Now, as you’ll have some time left, check your essay. Some students skip this step to save time for the next question.  However, this increases the chance of making silly mistakes in the essay. If you have a habit of revising after writing, you write faster as you need not worry about making it absolutely perfect. You can change the vocabulary spelling and fix other mistakes while revising. These are some of the basic tips to follow during SAT essay writing.

SAT Essay Format

The basic SAT essay format includes-

  • A brief introduction
  • Facts and evidence to support the body
  • Acknowledgement of the arguments
  • Providing counter arguments with proper reasoning
  • And a conclusion

SAT Exam Essay Sample 

The question for SAT essays is provided in a particular format. It is generally an excerpt from any passage followed by asking the students to plan and write an essay after analysing the issue presented.  It demands the students to develop their viewpoints and examples to support the arguments. Students are then required to read, observe and share their outlook on the topic.

SAT Essay Writing Score

SAT essay is assessed on three metrics, namely – reading, writing and analysis, and each section is marked on 1-8. Two examiners will evaluate one’s essay, and each of them will award points for the three sections mentioned above. The score is briefly explained in the table below:

After the evaluation is complete, marks given by both the examiners are combined. One will receive three scores for the essay. Moreover, one might ask oneself, ‘What is a good SAT essay score’. The answer to this question is explained below in further detail:

Candidates attaining 19 out of 24 is considered to be a good score, whereas those obtaining 22 out of 24 are perceived to be excellent. Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago and Stanford University expect their applicants to score a minimum of 6 in Reading out of 8, 4 out of 8 in Analysis and a minimum of 6 out of 8 in Writing. The breakdown of SAT essay score percentile is shown in the table below.

Apart from the above mentioned, several other colleges also accept the SAT essay score. They are:

  • Benedictine University
  • City University London
  • Delaware State University
  • DeSales University
  • Dominican University of California
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
  • Howard University
  • John Wesley University
  • Kentucky State University
  • Martin Luther College
  • Molloy College
  • Schreiner University
  • Soka University of America
  • Southern California Institute of Architecture
  • Texas A&M University—Galveston
  • United States Military Academy (West Point)
  • University of North Texas
  • West Virginia University Institute of Technology
  • Western Carolina University

Frequently Asked Questions

1. is the sat essay optional.

June 2021 onwards, SAT essays are declared as not compulsory. However, if you are applying for a college that requires SAT essay scores, it becomes mandatory to appear for it.

2. What is the highest SAT essay score?

The SAT essay score is given in three separate sections, out of 8 each. Thus, the highest is 8 in each section.

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My 8-year long journey as a SAT trainer has been paved with considerable success, excellent feedback, and extremely satisfactory learning outcomes.

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SAT Essay: Writing Tips, Test Scores & Examples

SAT essay

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The SAT essay is an optional section of the SAT exam that measures a student's ability to analyze and interpret a given piece of writing. It is a timed, 50-minute essay task that requires students to read a 600-700 word passage and then write a coherent response. This essay is designed to assess reading, writing, and analytical skills.

The SAT essay is scored on a scale of 2 to 8, with 2 being the lowest score and 8 being the highest score. The essay is scored based on three key areas: reading, analysis, and writing. The scores for each area are then added together to get a total score out of 24.

Feeling a little nervous before taking your SAT essay is normal. When you're dealing with something important for your future, it's ok to feel some pressure. That's why the goal of this guide is to help you get ready for this assignment and finally, get the highest SAT essay scoring. Let's take a look at SAT essay examples and the best practices to write it so that you can pass this test successfully.

What Is the SAT Essay?

SAT essay is a short, timed writing assignment that you'll get as part of the SAT. There are two great things about it. First, now the majority of educational institutions don't require an SAT writing essay. It is an optional task, which nevertheless, you are recommended to do. 

Secondly, new SAT essay rules don't require you to reinvent the wheel and deal with something you've never encountered before. At the same time, you shouldn't expect a typical essay-style question; there are no prompts like "Tell us about your favorite book." Instead, you will have to read a specific prompt, for example, a short article or speech, and analyze, interpret, and evaluate a given text.

Purpose of the SAT Essay

The main goal of the SAT essay is to evaluate three academic skills you should have and demonstrate. They are:

A perfect SAT essay wins 5-5-5 in reading, analysis, and writing. That's why you will have to read an assigned prompt first, then analyze the ways authors build their arguments, and describe their approach in writing. SAT essay is meant to be an opportunity for students to show off their writing skills, but it's also meant to test a student's ability to think critically about a topic, and most importantly, the ways an author explains it.

If you ever have trouble with SAT tasks, use college essay help online for the best result.

How to Write an SAT Essay

Keep in mind that SAT essay writing task is timed and requires you to analyze a passage and then support your analysis with evidence from a text. While SAT with essay usually lasts up to 5 hours, you will have up to one hour (usually 50 minutes) to complete a paper after you are done with the test itself. 

So, break down your assignment into four stages and keep track of the timeyou should devote to each of the states.

  • Read and analyze — 10 minutes. For the first time, read the passage quickly to get an overall sense of its main idea. Then, re-read it more slowly. Highlight any arguments or opinions that stand out to you. This is critical because if you don't have an idea of what exactly an author is trying to say and what persuasion approaches they use, then it will be hard for you to write an effective analysis based on their argumentation.
  • Outline — 10 minutes. Follow a standard essay structure of introduction-body-conclusion. Pay the most attention to the body. Draft three-four paragraphs, following one paragraph — one statement rule. Here, SAT essay practice doesn’t differ from writing any other type of paper.
  • Write — 20 minutes. Next, proceed with writing being guided by your outline. We recommend getting started right with a body paragraph. Pick up the writing or reasoning technique an author uses in the passage and explain it, using examples from the test. Do it three-four times discussing different approaches of a writer and highlighting their weak and strong points. Sum up everything in your conclusion. Here you can also briefly state your opinion. Then, get back to the intro. You will feel how easy it is to write it after you have fully understood the passage and analyzed it in your body.
  • Proofread and edit — 10 minutes. Don't skip this step! It's very important for your essay to be flawless in terms of spelling and grammatical correctness. So, make sure to provide enough time for essay revision and check everything twice before submission. Although the SAT have an essay as an optional assignment, do your best to show your paper writing skills.

>> View more: How to Write a Good Essay

SAT Essay Outline

Creating a new SAT essay outline before you start writing is a great way to ensure that you cover all necessary ideas. It is also an opportunity to prepare yourself mentally for such a task at hand. When you know what you're going to write and what SAT essay format to follow, you can get in the right mindset for writing effectively. The template you'll find below will help you as well. 

>> Read more: How to Write an Outline for an Essay

SAT Essay Template

  • Briefly introduce a topic
  • Mention a passage you're going to analyze and its author
  • State your thesis statement
  • State your first supporting point – how an author uses a specific persuasion technique
  • Provide evidence for supporting your point – cite an example for a passage directly
  • Explain how the evidence supports your point
  • Transition to the next paragraph
  • Follow the same structure as shown above
  • Elaborate on different points until you reach the necessary essay length
  • Restate your thesis
  • Summarize your supporting points
  • End with a strong concluding statement

You can pay for college essays at any time if you find anything too difficult or mind-boggling.

SAT Essay Prompts

SAT sample essay prompts are written in a way that asks you to analyze and evaluate other writers or speakers. SAT practice essay requires analytical writing on your part. That's why topics and questions for this assignment are diverse. Below you will find some prompts and corresponding samples to get an idea of what to expect from this task and how to deal with it. 

Sample SAT Essay Prompt 1 & Answer

So, let’s proceed with real-life examples and discover what to write in an SAT essay. 

For instance, the task may sound as follows: 

Write an essay in which you explain how Bill Gates builds his argument to persuade the audience of the need to address global climate change in his "Innovating to Zero" speech at the TED conference in 2010.

Here is what you can write about.

SAT Essay Sample 1

Bill Gates was at the forefront of the innovation development that is now changing the world. However, these changes are not always positive. In his "Innovating to Zero" speech at TED2010, he set an ambitious goal of achieving zero emissions by 2050. Bill Gates used a combination of emotional, logical, and ethical appeals to persuade the audience of the urgency and importance of tackling climate change. The most prominent persuasion technique that he uses throughout the speech is an emotional appeal. He uses an approach that's on the verge of rhetoric and psychology, making his audience feel compassion and pointing out that 2 million purest people on the globe will be unable to survive climate change. The goal of this technique is to help people realize the true cost of the upcoming disaster, and then — get a solution everyone can contribute to. Next, Bill Gates uses a logical appeal. He says: "We have to go from rapidly rising to fall [carbon emissions], and falling all the way to zero." To add credibility to his persuasion, he cites examples of new technologies that already make a difference. The speaker also supports his statements with statistics and calculations, moving to the concluding part — the call to action. Finally, Gates uses a call to action to encourage the audience to take care and rethink their attitudes toward climate change now. At this moment, he is leveraging the power of his reputation and global recognition of his contribution to technology development. Through this example, we can see how the personality of the speaker significantly amplifies all the persuasion techniques he used during the speech.

Sample SAT Essay Prompt 2 & Answer

Let’s consider one more example and deal with the following task:

Write an essay in which you explain how Sojourner Truth builds her argument to persuade the audience on men's and women's rights equity in her "Ain’t I a Woman" speech at a women's rights convention in 1851 in Ohio, USA.

SAT Essay Sample

The problem of equal gender rights, especially for people of color, has been relevant for over three centuries. History knows many outstanding speakers and activists of both genders, and Sojourner Truth is one of them. Her speech "Ain't I a Woman?" is a worthy example of consistent logic and strong persuasion. The speaker builds her argument using the rhetorical approach of opposition and contrast. She argued that if women were capable of doing hard work and bearing children, then they should be treated as equals to men. Next, she cites examples from her life to show that women are capable of doing even more. In the next sections of her speech, Sojourner Truth asks rhetorical questions and repeats them for better persuasion. "Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! A man had nothing to do with Him." The goal of this tactic is to appeal to religion which was very important for people of that time and help women realize that they are more powerful than they used to think. "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn back and get side up again". This statement is the continuation of the previous one. At the same time, it is a passionate, courageous, and driving call to action Sojourner Truth concludes her speech with.

Would you like additional assistance with your writing? If so, we can offer proficient support. Simply fill out our online essays order form, and our experts will handle your task quickly.

How Is the SAT Essay Scored? 

SAT essay scores simply. Two independent reviewers from an admission committee rate your paper based on 3 criteria:

They can score you from 1 to 4 points for each criterion. The points each of the reviewers gave are added together and students get a total SAT writing score with 24 points being the maximum. 

Tips for Writing the SAT Essay

So, now you have an idea of what to write in your paper, what kinds of topics to expect, and how your essay will be scored. Find out more SAT essay writing tips to skyrocket your chances of getting the highest grade possible.

  • Review successful SAT examples. The best way to get started is by reviewing past essays that got a good SAT essay score. Pay attention to topics and ways other students express themselves in response.
  • Practice at home before taking a test. Pick up prompts you like and try writing a piece at home. Exercise with different topics several times. Next, find a passage you've never read before. Set a cutdown timer and try to write an SAT essay under time pressure.
  • Read the passage twice. The first time through, focus on understanding what an author is saying and how they're saying it. The second time around, pay more attention to their logic and argumentation.
  • Highlight important points during the second reading round. Mark these points with a pencil. So, you can easily find them later when you're writing your essay.
  • Focus on analysis. Instead of simply stating your opinion or offering an example, explain why your opinion or example is valid based on what an author has written. You should be able to support your position with evidence from a passage. If there isn't enough evidence in the passage itself, draw from outside sources that support your argument (such as real-world experience).
  • Use specific evidence from the passage. Instead of making up your own ideas about what an author was trying to say, use specific examples from a text to support your point of view.
  • Use strong vocabulary. SAT essay is a very formal, academic writing prompt, so you need to write with that in mind. Choose words that are more advanced than those you'd use in conversation.
  • Proofread and edit twice. Once you've finished your draft, go back and read through it again. Making sure there are no typos or grammatical errors. Be very attentive since during your SAT test, you will not be able to use online tools for grammar and readability checks.

Bottom Line on SAT Essay Writing

SAT practice essays are challenging, but they are also an opportunity to show colleges you're ready to take on the next step in your education. Fortunately, SAT writing essays aren't as hard as they look. All you need to remember is that, at its core, an essay is just an argument — and every good argument has three parts: a claim, evidence for supporting that claim, and a conclusion. Invest your time and effort into getting ready for this assignment. Take a look at new SAT essay samples and try writing some pieces following the structure and tips we've shared in this article. 

If you found our SAT essay blog post helpful, you may also be interested in learning how to write an ACT essay  or succeed at AP English Language and Composition Exam .


Take advantage of our professional writing service . Our writers specialize in a wide range of academic disciplines and are dedicated to providing high-quality content to students for all types of assignments.

FAQ About SAT Essays

1. how long is the sat with an essay and without an essay.

The SAT without essay usually takes up to four hours. If you have to complete a writing assignment, you will be given extra 50 minutes for it. As for SAT essay length, it is 550-750 words.

2. What is a good SAT essay score?

The highest SAT essay scoring you can earn is five points for reading, analysis, and writing respectively. 3-4 scores on each task are average. 1-2 scores are a low result.

3. What colleges require the SAT essay?

The most famous institutions requiring the SAT essay include but aren't limited to: 

  • Harvard University
  • The University of California schools
  • City University London
  • Delaware State University
  • Howard University.

4. Should I take the SAT essay?

Despite being an optional task, it is still better to take the SAT essay. If you have a chance to improve your score and you know how to handle this task, take the fullest advantage of this opportunity.


Rachel R. Hill is a real educational devotee. She prides in writing exceptional general guides while listening to every need of students.

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Last Updated: June 23, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 36,726 times.

While the SAT’s revised essay section is optional, it’s an excellent way to develop the writing skills you’ll need in college. Plus, many colleges will expect you to complete this portion of the exam. You’ll have 50 minutes to read a 500- to 750-word passage and explain how the author uses rhetorical devices to make their argument. The key is to analyze persuasive elements such as factual evidence, logical reasoning, and stylistic choices instead of discussing your opinion on the topic. The new SAT essay is rigorous but, if you practice, it shouldn’t give you much trouble.

Example SAT Essay

how to write an essay in sat

Analyzing the Passage

Step 1 Spend about 5 to 10 minutes reading the sample passage.

  • In order to get a good score, you’ll need to demonstrate your understanding of the text’s main point and the rhetorical devices the author uses to make their case. Read the passage twice so you thoroughly comprehend it.
  • It’s wise to bring a watch to keep track of time. Just be sure it doesn’t have an alarm or make any other sounds. [2] X Research source

Step 2 Underline examples and write notes in the margins.

  • For example, underline a reference to a study by a reputable agency (which would be considered ethos). In the margins, write, “factual evidence,” or “appeal to authority.”
  • The way the author appeals to emotion (known as pathos), can be identified through asterisks, exclamation points, or other symbols that call your attention to key examples.
  • You won't have extra scrap paper, but you can take notes and outline your essay on the page in the answer booklet labeled "For Planning Only." [4] X Research source

Step 3 Identify how the author supports their argument.

  • An author might establish their authority (ethos) by citing factual evidence, such as scientific studies or expert quotes. Keep in mind the passage might lack strong evidence, and your essay could explain how data or statistics would have strengthened the author’s claim.
  • Logical reasoning (logos) is the thread that ties the author’s argument together. You might explain how the author cites a fact, then draws a conclusion, such as, “This study shows ocean temperatures are rising. If ocean temperatures get warmer, then more strong hurricanes will form.”
  • An author might appeal to readers’ fears or beliefs, or use vivid, passionate language to add force to their claim (pathos).
  • Analyze the stylistic elements of the text as well, such as the tone, figurative language (alliteration, metaphors, irony, etc.), imagery, parallel structure, and so on.

Step 4 Focus on the most relevant persuasive elements.

  • For example, the passage might argue that a decline in literacy has harmful effects on society. The key persuasive devices in this case would be factual evidence of a decline in literacy and specific examples of its harmful effects.

Crafting Your Response

Step 1 Analyze rhetorical devices instead of discussing your opinion.

  • You can critique persuasive devices and write that the author’s argument is ineffective, but you shouldn’t merely write that you disagree with their claim. Explaining that the author failed to support their argument with concrete, credible evidence is different than writing that you disagree with them.
  • It shouldn’t be hard to identify the author’s main point. The essay instructions will most likely identify the passage’s thesis, so read the prompt carefully.

Step 2 Come up with a concise thesis statement.

  • Your thesis might be, “By appealing to authoritative evidence, Dana Gioia crafts a convincing argument that a decline in literacy negatively affects society.”
  • Note that this example doesn’t mention whether or not you agree with the argument. Instead, it states the author's argument (a decline in literacy negatively affects society) and the key persuasive elements (authoritative evidence).
  • Since you won't have extra scrap paper, write your thesis and other notes on your answer booklet's blank planning page. [9] X Research source

Step 3 Map out your essay briefly in the introduction.

  • Your thesis can be the first sentence of your introduction. Then, you could map out the body by writing, for example, “First, Gioia proves that the decline actually exists by referencing reports by the National Endowment for the Arts and the US Census Bureau. He then expounds this decline’s harmful political and economic consequences, and supports his conclusions by citing credible agencies and publications.”

Step 4 Explain and evaluate specific examples in your essay’s body.

  • For instance, the body’s first paragraph might focus on the reports by the National Endowment for the Arts and the US Census Bureau that Gioia cites. This paragraph should explain that Gioia’s first task was to prove that the decline is real, and he accomplishes this by citing factual evidence compiled by authoritative agencies.
  • Your next paragraphs could discuss the evidence Gioia uses to connect the decline in literacy to economic impacts, decreases in civic awareness, and lower political engagement.
  • A final body paragraph could explain that including factual evidence instead of using impassioned, evocative language made Gioia’s argument more effective.

Step 5 End your response with a clear conclusion.

  • You might close by writing, “Gioia's appeals to authority prove that there is actually a decline in literacy, then connect this decline to specific consequences. Furthermore, rather than waxing poetic, Gioia constructs an effective argument by including facts compiled by credible sources.”

Practicing for the Essay Test

Step 1 Familiarize yourself with the scoring rubric.

  • Your essay will be graded by 2 scorers. They’ll assign individual scores from 1 to 4 for 3 categories: reading, analysis, and writing.
  • The 2 scores from each grader are added up for each category, so your best possible score for each category is an 8.

Step 2 Find sample passages, essays, and other resources on College Board.

  • Find all the help you’ll need at .

Step 3 Use a timer when you write practice essays.

  • Take the last 5 minutes to proofread and polish your work.
  • Make sure you finish in the allotted time! If you run out of time when you practice, try to analyze the prompt faster, make your writing as concise as possible, and stick to the introduction, body, and conclusion structure.
  • If your school has a writing lab, have a reviewer offer feedback on an essay you wrote and see if you can get a writing tutor. You could also get extra help from your English or literature teachers.
  • Review grammar topics including subject-verb agreement, proper sentence structures, and punctuation. Additionally, reading more books and articles can improve both your grammar and comprehension skills.
  • Try using a word of the day app or calendar to improve your vocabulary.

Step 5 Work on varying your sentence structures.

  • For example, avoid writing terse, repetitive sentences like, “The author wrote this. They then explained that. This is a strong argument.”
  • Additionally, keep your writing formal and objective. Avoid personal pronouns, slang, contractions, and other informal expressions.

Step 6 Hone your skills by reading and analyzing a variety of texts.

  • Try to read at least 1 text a day for at least a month before the test date.

Expert Q&A

  • You’ll take the essay portion of the SAT after spending 3 hours on the other sections. Pack a snack and drink to help you stay sharp. [17] X Research source However, you cannot eat or drink during the actual test, so plan to snack during the allotted breaks. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Make sure your writing is neat and legible. When you start a new paragraph, indent the first line to help the scorer identify how your essay is organized. [18] X Research source You want to make it easier for the graders to give you a good score! Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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About this article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To write an SAT essay, start by reading the sample passage to understand the author's main point, and the persuasive elements they used to make their argument. Next, come up with a thesis statement that identifies the most relevant persuasive elements, such as factual evidence, imagery, or appealing to the reader’s emotions. Then, give some specific examples and incorporate quotations from the passage as evidence. Finally, end with a closing argument that restates your thesis and the main themes of your essay. For tips from our Education reviewer on how to practice for the essay test, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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how to write an essay in sat

How to Write an SAT Essay

how to write an essay in sat

A winning SAT essay requires a range of specific skills for the top result. In this article from the cheap essay writing service EssayPro, we will discuss how to write SAT essay and get that SAT essay score for college admission. This includes the definition, preparation steps, time-management, SAT essay outline, tips, and examples.

What Is an SAT Essay?

So what is the SAT essay writing task in general terms? SAT writing is very much similar to your regular college paper. In fact, it’s not what you’re asked to write about. It’s how you’re graded on it that makes it stand out from the rest of the academic writing tasks you are surely familiar with.

Many people question: what schools require this type of assignment? The colleges that require the SAT essay are institutions like Stanford, Stanford, Yale, and many more. Considering most colleges with high reputations require this entrance exam, it is essential to learn how to write a great SAT essay if you want to enter college.

Before You Start Writing an SAT Essay...

While studying for the entrance exam, consider the question: ‘how long it takes to write an SAT essay?’. Time management is an essential part of the test and something to consider while writing the examination. Usually, writing time is made up of four examination stages:

examination elements sat

There are different variations of these stages. Some people are faster with reading than they are creating an outline, and some are very quick writers. But regardless of how long it takes, the general approach to essay writing is the same.

Throughout the first stage, you familiarize yourself with the tasks you're going to deal with. 5 minutes is more than enough. But don’t rush through it. Missing some key details during this first stage can lead to failing the entire task before you even get to writing.

After you’ve got all the info you need - you can start planning. A plan of action will help you stay on track throughout the writing process. You can even draw up a schematic to reference as you go.

Writing will take up the majority of your time. Consult your outline and start filling it out step by step. Do not get bogged down. If you can’t get through some section of your outline - move on to the next one and return later.

Proofreading is one of the most important parts of essay writing. You should always try your best to leave as much time as possible for post-editing. The task is finished; now you have to relax and look through your text a couple more times to weed out any mistakes.

Whichever way your mind thinks, SAT essay practice is always the right way to go, so you’re able to find the most reliable timing combination that works for you within the set duration of the exam.

It is important to consider that the writing segment takes up a large portion of the 50 minutes. The reading and creating outline segments play a vital role in the completion of the SAT essay.

Our argumentative essay writers are ready to help you any time. Order essay or leave us a message ' Do my math homework '.

Things Your SAT Essay Needs

Now, let’s talk about how to write SAT essay tasks in a little more detail. To write a winning SAT essay outline , it is important to know what to include in it. Any paper regarding this examination should include these elements:



  • First impressions count;
  • Remember to avoid argumentative language;
  • Discuss, briefly, the analysis methods that the author has used;
  • Address the author’s points;
  • Examiners want to see an understanding of the source, a quote might be in order;

Feeling Overwhelmed Writing an Essay on Your Own?

We only need your paper requirements to create a plagiarism-free paper prompt.

  • Use examples that support your claims;
  • Quote the passage where the writer has used vivid language;
  • A short quote will suffice, no need to cite entire paragraphs;
  • Follow your evidence up with supporting claims;
  • Talk about what makes your arguments strong;
  • Explain why the examples are compelling to the reader;


  • Restate the thesis;
  • Briefly talk about how your examples support it;
  • Be aware that this is not a place to write more in-depth text or more examples;
  • End with a conclusive sentence;

This outline should give you a pretty good idea of how to SAT when it comes to essay writing tasks.

SAT Essay Outline

In recent years, a new SAT essay format has been created. Take a look at how applicants tackle this assignment in 2022.


  • This introduction paragraph is 2-5 sentences;
  • Write about the purpose of the source material;
  • Write a few lines describing the techniques used in the rest of the paper.
  • Usually, the body is made up of 2-3 paragraphs;
  • Each paragraph is around six sentences;
  • Your first sentence is a transition from the previous paragraph.
  • Paraphrase the thesis;
  • Mention the arguments discussed in the assignment;
  • End with a conclusive sentence.


Tips on How to Write an SAT Essay

For a high SAT essay score, consider these SAT essay tips below to get a good feel of how to create a great exam paper. They’ll give you a solid understanding of how to SAT in order to get a decent score.

How to Get a Good Score on SAT

  • SAT Essay Prompts Are Essential. Analyze the provided promptly. It can give you hints about the writer’s intent.
  • Introductions Are Essential. Ease your reader into the topic. Focus their attention and remember - it sets the stage for the rest of your essay.
  • Use Your Vocabulary & Effective Language. Only use formal language. Don’t repeat points, and watch your grammar. Avoid using simple words, slang, and writing in the first person.
  • Avoid Going Off-Topic. Keep your essay precise in regards to the source. It is essential to show the examiner that you have read and understood it.
  • Practice Makes Perfect. Looking at SAT essay examples will help you understand how the essay should be written. Practice writing your paper using an SAT essay sample as a reference.

What Is an Average SAT Essay Score?

An average SAT essay score is 5\4\5 (for reading\analysis\writing). But you don’t really want to aim for an average SAT essay score. You need to land above that if you want your application to benefit from it.

You have to consider several factors if you want to get a good SAT essay score. Here they are:

You have to demonstrate your proficiency in all three in order to get a perfect score. First, you have to show that you have a thorough understanding of the subject matter of your essay. There is no place for even the slightest missteps. You want to show that you have knowledge of the facts and can interpret them well.

Analysis has to do with the personal conclusions you draw in your essay. You have to show that your writing is not just a stream of consciousness. Your thesis should be well-thought-out and supported by relevant and strong evidence.

Finally, the writing aspect is about presentation. Here you need to show that you have a strong command of language. It’s not only about grammar. Even the particular choice of words matters. How well you form your thoughts will determine your writing score. You should also watch your writing style. For a serious academic paper like this one, it should always be formal. No matter the subject.

So what is a good SAT essay score? It’s the result of your careful consideration of source material, your argument, and your form.

Is SAT Now Optional?

SAT is indeed optional. Very few colleges still practice this approach to applicant screening. But you can still take this test if you’d like to showcase your formidable writing skills. Will it help you when applying to top universities? For example, does Harvard require SAT essay submissions? Ivy League institutions like Harvard have also opted to take SAT test score submission during the application process optional. If you want to get an edge in a competitive environment like this, you have to research modern methods of applicant assessment. Like writing a personal statement.

Should I Take SAT?

Well, that depends on your goals. For example, if you are going for a major that has to do with analytical writing - an SAT test with an essay is a great way to show your skills and talent. But you shouldn’t obsess over it if you’re not entirely sure you’d be able to get a good score. There are alternative ways to show your writing off.

SAT Essay Examples

Check out these SAT essay examples to get a further grasp of how to write an outstanding paper. Feel free to use them as a reference.

Paul Bogard’s “Let There Be Dark” illustrates a large variety of rhetorical writing methods to create a key message. The message being: before the almost infinite list of benefits of the night’s natural darkness is completely lost, people should make more effort to decrease light pollution.
Dr. John’s “The Classics” argues that the enthusiasm of modern children of English literature in the classroom is at the lowest it could possibly be. He argues that there can be some extreme consequences for the survival of classic texts. The claim, itself, mentions classroom surveys that have taken place in high schools across the country.

Don’t Know How to Start?

Have you read the whole article and found yourself in a situation where you type " write my essay online "? Start from structuring your ideas. Writing an outline and a pinch of professional writing help can put you onto the right path to writing your SAT essay paper.

You can also look for SAT essay prompts if you want to practice a bit before the actual exam.

SAT Topics: Best Ideas

The best ideas for an SAT practice essay come in the form of prompts. You are unlikely to find the same exact prompt you have been practicing with on your SAT exam. But it will give you enough experience to feel confident in your writing abilities.

  • Write an essay in which you explain how Volodymyr Zelensky builds an argument to persuade his audience that the democratic countries must unite to help the Ukrainian cause.
  • How does the availability of information influence our perception of global issues?
  • Analyze and evaluate societal constructs and stereotypes in regard to different age groups
  • Analyze and evaluate the importance of factors of competition and cooperation in relation to humanity’s technological progress.
  • Consider and analyze potential issues of creating a new society in isolation from the rest of humanity. For example, a colony on a faraway planet.

The SAT test is slowly going out of fashion. The pandemic has only reinforced this trend. Despite that, it still remains a pretty comprehensive way to gauge one’s abilities. So, while it’s not mandatory to take the SAT test anymore, you can certainly take it anyway if you think it will help you showcase the skills relevant to your education.

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The Optional SAT Essay: What to Know

Tackling this section of the SAT requires preparation and can boost some students' college applications.

Elementary school student series.

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Even though an increasing number of colleges are dropping standardized test requirements, students who must write the SAT essay can still stand to gain from doing so.

Although the essay portion of the SAT became optional in 2016, many students still chose to write it to demonstrate strong or improved writing skills to prospective colleges.

In June 2021, the College Board opted to discontinue the SAT essay. Now, only students in a few states and school districts still have access to — and must complete — the SAT essay. This requirement applies to some students in the SAT School Day program, for instance, among other groups.

How Colleges Use SAT, ACT Results

Tiffany Sorensen Sept. 14, 2020

High school students having their exam inside a classroom.

Whether or not to write the SAT essay is not the biggest decision you will have to make in high school, but it is certainly one that requires thought on your part. Here are three things you should know about the 50-minute SAT essay as you decide whether to complete it:

  • To excel on the SAT essay, you must be a trained reader.
  • The SAT essay begs background knowledge of rhetoric and persuasive writing.
  • A growing number of colleges are dropping standardized test requirements.

To Excel on the SAT Essay, You Must Be a Trained Reader

The SAT essay prompt never comes unaccompanied. On the contrary, it follows a text that is about 700 words long or approximately one page. Before test-takers can even plan their response, they must carefully read and – ideally – annotate the passage.

The multifaceted nature of the SAT essay prompt can be distressing to students who struggle with reading comprehension. But the good news is that this prompt is highly predictable: It always asks students to explain how the author builds his or her argument. In this case, "how” means which rhetorical devices are used, such as deductive reasoning, metaphors, etc.

Luckily, the author’s argument is usually spelled out in the prompt itself. For instance, consider this past SAT prompt : “Write an essay in which you explain how Paul Bogard builds an argument to persuade his audience that natural darkness should be preserved.”

Due to the essay prompt’s straightforward nature, students should read the passage with an eye toward specific devices used by the author rather than poring over “big ideas.” In tour SAT essay, aim to analyze at least two devices, with three being even better.

The SAT Essay Begs Background Knowledge of Rhetoric and Persuasive Writing

Since your SAT essay response must point to specific rhetorical devices that the author employs to convince the reader, you should make it a point to intimately know 10-15 common ones. The more familiar you are with rhetorical devices, the faster you will become at picking them out as you read texts.

Once you have read the passage and identified a handful of noteworthy rhetorical devices, you should apply many of the same essay-writing techniques you already use in your high school English classes.

For instance, you should start by brainstorming to see which devices you have the most to say about. After that, develop a concise thesis statement, incorporate quotes from the text, avoid wordiness and other infelicities of writing, close with an intriguing conclusion, and do everything else you could imagine your English teacher advising you to do.

Remember to always provide evidence from the text to support your claims. Finally, leave a few minutes at the end to review your essay for mistakes.

A Growing Number of Colleges Are Dropping Standardized Test Requirements

In recent years, some of America’s most prominent colleges and universities – including Ivy League institutions like Harvard University in Massachusetts, Princeton University in New Jersey and Yale University in Connecticut – have made submission of ACT and SAT scores optional.

While this trend began as early as 2018, the upheaval caused by COVID-19 has prompted many other schools to adopt a more lenient testing policy, as well.

Advocates for educational fairness have long expressed concerns that standardized admissions tests put underprivileged students at a disadvantage. In light of the coronavirus pandemic , which restricted exam access for almost all high school students, colleges have gotten on board with this idea by placing more emphasis on other factors in a student’s application.

To assess writing ability in alternative ways, colleges now place more emphasis on students’ grades in language-oriented subjects, as well as college application documents like the personal statement .

The fact that more colleges are lifting their ACT/SAT requirement does not imply that either test or any component of it is now obsolete. Students who must write the SAT essay can still stand to gain from doing so, especially those who wish to major in a writing-intensive field. The essay can also demonstrate a progression or upward trajectory in writing skills.

The SAT essay can give a boost to the college applications of the few students to whom it is still available. If the requirement applies to you, be sure to learn more about the SAT essay and practice it often as you prepare for your upcoming SAT.

13 Test Prep Tips for SAT and ACT Takers

Studying for college entrance exam

Tags: SAT , standardized tests , students , education

About College Admissions Playbook

Stressed about getting into college? College Admissions Playbook, authored by Varsity Tutors , offers prospective college students advice on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, SAT and ACT exams and the college application process. Varsity Tutors, an advertiser with U.S. News & World Report, is a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement. The company's end-to-end offerings also include mobile learning apps, online learning environments and other tutoring and test prep-focused technologies. Got a question? Email [email protected] .

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Tips for Writing an Effective Application Essay

student in library on laptop

How to Write an Effective Essay

Writing an essay for college admission gives you a chance to use your authentic voice and show your personality. It's an excellent opportunity to personalize your application beyond your academic credentials, and a well-written essay can have a positive influence come decision time.

Want to know how to draft an essay for your college application ? Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing.

Tips for Essay Writing

A typical college application essay, also known as a personal statement, is 400-600 words. Although that may seem short, writing about yourself can be challenging. It's not something you want to rush or put off at the last moment. Think of it as a critical piece of the application process. Follow these tips to write an impactful essay that can work in your favor.

1. Start Early.

Few people write well under pressure. Try to complete your first draft a few weeks before you have to turn it in. Many advisers recommend starting as early as the summer before your senior year in high school. That way, you have ample time to think about the prompt and craft the best personal statement possible.

You don't have to work on your essay every day, but you'll want to give yourself time to revise and edit. You may discover that you want to change your topic or think of a better way to frame it. Either way, the sooner you start, the better.

2. Understand the Prompt and Instructions.

Before you begin the writing process, take time to understand what the college wants from you. The worst thing you can do is skim through the instructions and submit a piece that doesn't even fit the bare minimum requirements or address the essay topic. Look at the prompt, consider the required word count, and note any unique details each school wants.

3. Create a Strong Opener.

Students seeking help for their application essays often have trouble getting things started. It's a challenging writing process. Finding the right words to start can be the hardest part.

Spending more time working on your opener is always a good idea. The opening sentence sets the stage for the rest of your piece. The introductory paragraph is what piques the interest of the reader, and it can immediately set your essay apart from the others.

4. Stay on Topic.

One of the most important things to remember is to keep to the essay topic. If you're applying to 10 or more colleges, it's easy to veer off course with so many application essays.

A common mistake many students make is trying to fit previously written essays into the mold of another college's requirements. This seems like a time-saving way to avoid writing new pieces entirely, but it often backfires. The result is usually a final piece that's generic, unfocused, or confusing. Always write a new essay for every application, no matter how long it takes.

5. Think About Your Response.

Don't try to guess what the admissions officials want to read. Your essay will be easier to write─and more exciting to read─if you’re genuinely enthusiastic about your subject. Here’s an example: If all your friends are writing application essays about covid-19, it may be a good idea to avoid that topic, unless during the pandemic you had a vivid, life-changing experience you're burning to share. Whatever topic you choose, avoid canned responses. Be creative.

6. Focus on You.

Essay prompts typically give you plenty of latitude, but panel members expect you to focus on a subject that is personal (although not overly intimate) and particular to you. Admissions counselors say the best essays help them learn something about the candidate that they would never know from reading the rest of the application.

7. Stay True to Your Voice.

Use your usual vocabulary. Avoid fancy language you wouldn't use in real life. Imagine yourself reading this essay aloud to a classroom full of people who have never met you. Keep a confident tone. Be wary of words and phrases that undercut that tone.

8. Be Specific and Factual.

Capitalize on real-life experiences. Your essay may give you the time and space to explain why a particular achievement meant so much to you. But resist the urge to exaggerate and embellish. Admissions counselors read thousands of essays each year. They can easily spot a fake.

9. Edit and Proofread.

When you finish the final draft, run it through the spell checker on your computer. Then don’t read your essay for a few days. You'll be more apt to spot typos and awkward grammar when you reread it. After that, ask a teacher, parent, or college student (preferably an English or communications major) to give it a quick read. While you're at it, double-check your word count.

Writing essays for college admission can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. A well-crafted essay could be the deciding factor─in your favor. Keep these tips in mind, and you'll have no problem creating memorable pieces for every application.

What is the format of a college application essay?

Generally, essays for college admission follow a simple format that includes an opening paragraph, a lengthier body section, and a closing paragraph. You don't need to include a title, which will only take up extra space. Keep in mind that the exact format can vary from one college application to the next. Read the instructions and prompt for more guidance.

Most online applications will include a text box for your essay. If you're attaching it as a document, however, be sure to use a standard, 12-point font and use 1.5-spaced or double-spaced lines, unless the application specifies different font and spacing.

How do you start an essay?

The goal here is to use an attention grabber. Think of it as a way to reel the reader in and interest an admissions officer in what you have to say. There's no trick on how to start a college application essay. The best way you can approach this task is to flex your creative muscles and think outside the box.

You can start with openers such as relevant quotes, exciting anecdotes, or questions. Either way, the first sentence should be unique and intrigue the reader.

What should an essay include?

Every application essay you write should include details about yourself and past experiences. It's another opportunity to make yourself look like a fantastic applicant. Leverage your experiences. Tell a riveting story that fulfills the prompt.

What shouldn’t be included in an essay?

When writing a college application essay, it's usually best to avoid overly personal details and controversial topics. Although these topics might make for an intriguing essay, they can be tricky to express well. If you’re unsure if a topic is appropriate for your essay, check with your school counselor. An essay for college admission shouldn't include a list of achievements or academic accolades either. Your essay isn’t meant to be a rehashing of information the admissions panel can find elsewhere in your application.

How can you make your essay personal and interesting?

The best way to make your essay interesting is to write about something genuinely important to you. That could be an experience that changed your life or a valuable lesson that had an enormous impact on you. Whatever the case, speak from the heart, and be honest.

Is it OK to discuss mental health in an essay?

Mental health struggles can create challenges you must overcome during your education and could be an opportunity for you to show how you’ve handled challenges and overcome obstacles. If you’re considering writing your essay for college admission on this topic, consider talking to your school counselor or with an English teacher on how to frame the essay.

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Guest Essay

How the SAT Changed My Life

An illustration of a man lying underneath a giant SAT prep book. The book makes a tent over him. He is smiling.

By Emi Nietfeld

Ms. Nietfeld is the author of the memoir “Acceptance.”

This month, the University of Texas at Austin joined the wave of selective universities reversing Covid era test-optional admissions policies, once again requiring students to submit ACT or SAT scores.

Many schools have embraced the test-optional rule under the assumption that it would bolster equity and diversity, since higher scores are correlated with privilege. But it turns out that these policies harmed the teenagers they were supposed to help. Many low-income and minority students withheld scores that could have gotten them in, wrongly assuming that their scores were too low, according to an analysis by Dartmouth. More top universities are sure to join the reversal. This is a good thing.

I was one of the disadvantaged youths who are often failed by test-optional policies, striving to get into college while in foster care and homeless. We hear a lot about the efforts of these elite schools to attract diverse student bodies and about debates around the best way to assemble a class. What these conversations overlook is the hope these tests offer students who are in difficult situations.

For many of us, standardized tests provided our one shot to prove our potential, despite the obstacles in our lives or the untidy pasts we had. We found solace in the objectivity of a hard number and a process that — unlike many things in our lives — we could control. I will always feel tenderness toward the Scantron sheets that unlocked higher education and a better life.

Growing up, I fantasized about escaping the chaos of my family for the peace of a grassy quad. Both my parents had mental health issues. My adolescence was its own mess. Over two years I took a dozen psychiatric drugs while attending four different high school programs. At 14, I was sent to a locked facility where my education consisted of work sheets and reading aloud in an on-site classroom. In a life skills class, we learned how to get our G.E.D.s. My college dreams began to seem like delusions.

Then one afternoon a staff member handed me a library copy of “Barron’s Guide to the ACT .” I leafed through the onionskin pages and felt a thunderclap of possibility. I couldn’t go to the bathroom without permission, let alone take Advanced Placement Latin or play water polo or do something else that would impress elite colleges. But I could teach myself the years of math I’d missed while switching schools and improve my life in this one specific way.

After nine months in the institution, I entered foster care. I started my sophomore year at yet another high school, only to have my foster parents shuffle my course load at midyear, when they decided Advanced Placement classes were bad for me. In part because of academic instability like this, only 3 to 4 percent of former foster youth get a four-year college degree.

Later I bounced between friends’ sofas and the back seat of my rusty Corolla, using my new-to-me SAT prep book as a pillow. I had no idea when I’d next shower, but I could crack open practice problems and dip into a meditative trance. For those moments, everything was still, the terror of my daily life softened by the fantasy that my efforts might land me in a dorm room of my own, with endless hot water and an extra-long twin bed.

Standardized tests allowed me to look forward, even as every other part of college applications focused on the past. The song and dance of personal statements required me to demonstrate all the obstacles I’d overcome while I was still in the middle of them. When shilling my trauma left me gutted and raw, researching answer elimination strategies was a balm. I could focus on equations and readings, like the scholar I wanted to be, rather than the desperate teenager that I was.

Test-optional policies would have confounded me, but in the 2009-10 admissions cycle when I applied, I had to submit my scores; my fellow hopefuls and I were all in this together, slogging through multiple-choice questions until our backs ached and our eyes crossed.

The hope these exams instilled in me wasn’t abstract: It manifested in hundreds of glossy brochures. After taking the PSAT in my junior year, universities that had received my score flooded me with letters urging me to apply. For once, I felt wanted. These marketing materials informed me that the top universities offered generous financial aid that would allow me to attend for free. I set my sights higher, despite my guidance counselor’s lack of faith.

When I took the actual SAT, I was ashamed of my score. Had submitting it been optional, I most likely wouldn’t have done it, because I suspected my score was lower than the prep-school applicants I was up against. (Exactly what Dartmouth found in the analysis that led it to reinstate testing requirements.) When you grow up like I did, it’s difficult to believe that you are ever good enough.

When I got into Harvard, it felt like a miracle splitting my life into a before and after. My exam preparation paid off on campus — it was the only reason I knew geometry or grammar — and it motivated me to tackle new, difficult topics. I majored in computer science, having never written a line of code. Though a career as a software engineer seemed far-fetched, I used my SAT study strategies to prepare for technical interviews (in which you’re given one or more problems to solve) that landed me the stable, lucrative Google job that catapulted me out of financial insecurity.

I’m not the only one who feels affection for these tests. At Harvard, I met other students who saw these exams as the one door they could unlock, which opened into a new future. I was lucky that the tests offered me hope all along, that I could cling to the promise that one day I could bubble in a test form and find myself transported into a better life — the one I lead today.

Ms. Nietfeld is the author of the memoir “ Acceptance .” Previously, she was a software engineer at Google and Facebook.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Instagram , TikTok , WhatsApp , X and Threads .

The SAT is now digital for the first time. One test expert says the new format makes the test easier.

  • A new digital SAT is now being offered for the first time. 
  • The test is shorter, adaptive, and tests real-world skills.
  • One test expert says it's easier than past versions but clarifies it's still not an easy test. 

Insider Today

In March, the first US high school students took the SAT exam — digitally.

This switch to digital comes as many top-tier colleges, such as Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown, are reversing their decision to be exam-optional — a trend that started during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a recent study suggests that test scores actually do predict academic performance and college success — better than high school grades.

Shaan Patel — the founder and CEO of Prep Expert, with more than two decades of experience with the popular college entrance exam — told Business Insider the test will be significantly different than in the past. It may even be easier.

The digital SAT has some content changes

For starters, the digital test will be shorter and adaptive. That means the test will get harder as the student progresses through it, but the level of difficulty will depend on how they performed on earlier questions.

According to Patel, the digital SAT is also more "student-friendly" than previous years.

For example, in the past, there was a section where students couldn't use the calculator, but on the digital SAT, Patel said a calculator could be used on all the questions.

"There's even a digital calculator built into the testing application, in case you don't have a graphing calculator," Patel said.

Related stories

In addition, the reading passages are a lot shorter in the new exam. The essay section has also been dissolved, and the grammar questions have now been integrated with the reading section.

"So it really tests your reading and writing together, which I think will be a welcome change for most people," Patel said.

Plus, there are new question types where students read notes and decipher what is most relevant.

"I think that's a super useful skill in the real world where you get a long email, and you have to sift through the important data," Patel said.

He added students no longer have to memorize difficult, obscure vocabulary words that were once required.

The digital SAT is easier

"The new question types are actually testing students in a much more real-world manner than the previous versions of the SAT," Patel said. "Overall, this test will be more relevant to real-world skills . So, I'm optimistic the changes will be good."

He said, in that regard, the SAT will be easier.

"But, I want to be careful about saying it's easy," Patel said. "I don't think it's easy because what's going to happen is with the adaptive testing structure…you are going to see harder questions as you go along, even though you're going to see fewer questions."

Prep for the SAT shouldn't change all that much

Patel recommended that all students download the College Board's Bluebook app , where they can take practice tests and familiarize themselves with the new adaptive feature.

"They must get used to not letting their brain become overused at the end of the test since that is when most students will encounter the hardest questions," Patel said.

But the most important piece of advice remained the same: prep early.

"I usually recommend getting started in 10th grade so that by the time the fall of 11th grade rolls around, you'll be ready to knock the PSAT out of the park," Patel said, "because the PSAT, especially this new digital PSAT , is more similar to the digital SAT than ever."

Watch: The SAT is getting a massive overhaul — and they’re ditching one of the most annoying parts

how to write an essay in sat

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  1. How To Write The New SAT Essay

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  2. Sat Essay Help : Make an essay template that works for you and stick

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  4. How to Write an SAT Essay, Step by Step

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  5. How to Write a Good SAT Essay

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  2. What Is the SAT Essay?

    February 28, 2024. The SAT Essay section is a lot like a typical writing assignment in which you're asked to read and analyze a passage and then produce an essay in response to a single prompt about that passage. It gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your reading, analysis, and writing skills—which are critical to readiness for ...

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    Here are 5 tips for writing a killer SAT essay, should you decide to add on that section: 1. Stay Objective. The thing to remember here is that ETS (the company that writes the test) is not asking you for your opinion on a topic or a text. So be sure to maintain formal style and an objective tone.

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    The SAT essay responds well to a formulaic approach, so while it may take some practice, you will eventually be able to handle a 25-minute essay prompt with confidence. The SAT has undergone a significant number of changes over the years, generally involving adjustments in the scoring rubric, and often in response to.

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    Ah, the SAT Essay…If you feel like writing isn't your strong suit, it can be a drag at best and anxiety-inducing at worst. Luckily, the CollegeBoard provides clear information on the Essay and what is expected of students. That means you can walk into the SAT armed with knowledge about the essay portion of the test.

  13. SAT Essay Writing Guide: Outline, Tips, Scoring & Examples

    The SAT essay is an optional section of the SAT exam that measures a student's ability to analyze and interpret a given piece of writing. It is a timed, 50-minute essay task that requires students to read a 600-700 word passage and then write a coherent response. This essay is designed to assess reading, writing, and analytical skills.

  14. How to Write an SAT Essay

    To write an SAT essay, start by reading the sample passage to understand the author's main point, and the persuasive elements they used to make their argument. Next, come up with a thesis statement that identifies the most relevant persuasive elements, such as factual evidence, imagery, or appealing to the reader's emotions. ...

  15. SAT Essay Scoring

    Responses to the optional SAT Essay are scored using a carefully designed process. Two different people will read and score your essay. Each scorer awards 1-4 points for each dimension: reading, analysis, and writing. The two scores for each dimension are added. You'll receive three scores for the SAT Essay—one for each dimension—ranging ...

  16. How to Write a SAT Essay: Outline, Tips, Examples

    A winning SAT essay requires a range of specific skills for the top result. In this article from the cheap essay writing service EssayPro, we will discuss how to write SAT essay and get that SAT essay score for college admission. This includes the definition, preparation steps, time-management, SAT essay outline, tips, and examples.

  17. The Optional SAT Essay: What to Know

    Here are three things you should know about the 50-minute SAT essay as you decide whether to complete it: To excel on the SAT essay, you must be a trained reader. The SAT essay begs background ...

  18. Tips for Writing an Effective Application Essay

    Follow these tips to write an impactful essay that can work in your favor. 1. Start Early. Few people write well under pressure. Try to complete your first draft a few weeks before you have to turn it in. Many advisers recommend starting as early as the summer before your senior year in high school.

  19. Everything You Need to Know About the Digital SAT

    The SAT puts your achievements into context. That means it shows off your qualifications to colleges and helps you stand out. Most colleges—including those that are test optional —still accept SAT scores. Together with high school grades, the SAT can show your potential to succeed in college or career. Learn more about why you should take ...

  20. Opinion

    March 27, 2024, 5:01 a.m. ET. Matija Medved. By Emi Nietfeld. Ms. Nietfeld is the author of the memoir "Acceptance.". This month, the University of Texas at Austin joined the wave of selective ...

  21. Digital SAT Makes the Test Easier, According to SAT Expert

    The digital SAT is easier. "The new question types are actually testing students in a much more real-world manner than the previous versions of the SAT," Patel said. "Overall, this test will be ...