Your Guide to Writing the New SAT Essay

SAT Essay
SAT Essay

The new SAT essays, released in March 2016, have been the subject of much debate. Some people love them; others hate them. And while the changes to the essay format are significant, they’re not impossible to navigate. This guide will explain how to write your way through every step of the new SAT essay prompt—from pre-writing and outlining to drafting and editing.

Know the Format

The essay is an optional section on the new SAT, and it’s scored on a scale of 0 to 8 in half-point increments. That means you can get up to 40 points out of 800. The essay is based on a prompt, which may be about the author’s purpose or tone or how some detail relates to the larger work.

The prompt will come just before your start time, so don’t be surprised if it feels like there isn’t enough time for you to prepare! Don’t worry—the question will still be there when you’re ready for it.

After each essay section has been graded holistically by two graders (one male/one female), their scores are averaged together for each student’s final score. On a side note, there are also essay writers and  UK dissertation writers who can assist you greatly.

Present an Argument

The New SAT Essay is a critical reading and writing test that asks you to analyse and evaluate the evidence for claims presented in an argument. The main task is to support or refute the author’s reasoning.

Here’s how it works:

  • Talk about the topic (the question)
  • Claim the argument’s conclusion (the author’s opinion) by responding directly to what you read
  • Support your claim with evidence from the text, either from direct quotes or paraphrased information from specific paragraphs (this part of your essay will be between 2-4 paragraphs long)

Support Your Argument With Evidence

Supporting evidence can be used to support your argument. You must include at least three examples or statistics (in the form of numbers or charts) that help prove your point. If you don’t have any supporting evidence, you should write about how students and teachers need to learn about these topics. For example, if we were writing about “The Importance of Studying,” our supporting evidence would be based on personal experience—we saw it happen in our own lives! Or perhaps we heard someone else speak about this topic while talking with us, and we found their speech interesting enough to write down what they said so that other readers could learn more too!

Use Rhetorical Techniques and Languages to Strengthen Your Essay.

You should use various rhetorical techniques, sentence structures and vocabulary to strengthen your essay. Rhetorical devices are ways you can use language to affect the reader. For example, the following paragraph from a student essay: “The rain came down hard during lunchtime today, and it was raining even harder when I went outside after lunch.” The word “even” creates an expectation of something terrible or unexpected in the sentence and implies that nothing happened because it is used twice in quick succession (twice). This method of ending sentences with words like “ever”, “always”, etc., is called parallelism and is commonly used by writers who want to emphasise how something has never happened before or will never happen again.

Pre-Write the Essay.

While you may not be able to control everything that comes up on the SAT Essay, you can prepare yourself by pre-writing the essay. Here’s how:

  • What is pre-writing? Pre-writing is the process of planning out your essay before writing it. It includes brainstorming ideas, organising your thoughts and drafting a rough outline. You’ll learn more about each step below.
  • Why should I do this? Writing an essay without a plan can leave you floundering for words, which means less time to edit and improve your piece at the end. By planning, you’ll have more time to write and less time spent trying to figure out what to say next when it’s due!
  • How do I do it? We’ve broken down some general steps below for how we like to plan our essays before we write them out entirely on paper (and yes – we write them by hand):

Conclusion

Writing the new SAT essay might seem challenging, but you can succeed with the right approach and preparation. The most important thing is to remember that this is YOUR essay, so make it your own. You will have time to think about what you want to say before writing and editing your rough draft; use this time wisely! Don’t rush through it—but don’t spend too much time on one paragraph if others need work just as much.

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