How to prepare for the SAT essay

The essay is dreaded by almost every SAT taker.  Writing a polished persuasive piece in only 25 minutes seems like a nearly impossible task at first glance.  Fortunately, there are some ways to make it easier.

This website has several tips for maximizing your essay score.  You should first read some general points at the SAT writing section article, then read the specific strategies you will need in 25 Minute Miracle: How to earn a 12 on the SAT essay.

Before you sit down to start practicing, though, you should read sample essays.  The College Board website has nine sample essays that you can read, one example each of essays scoring 1, 2, and 3, and two examples each of those scoring 4, 5, and 6. You should read all of them to get a good idea of what the graders are looking for. Focus primarily on the difference between a score of 4 and 5, and especially on the differences between a 5 and 6.

I am willing to help out with your essay.  Just head over to the contact page and paste an essay you have written.  I recommend writing it in pencil first and then typing it, otherwise you won't get an accurate view of how much you can actually write in 25 minutes.

Have any insight on this topic? Want to ask a question or make a suggestion? Click here to leave a comment.

Related Articles



The good thing about the SAT essay is that we know what they are looking for as they publish their scoring rubric. I agree that one good tip is to look through the scoring rubric ahead of time and focus on the differences between the good scores. One of the main differences is using "clearly appropriate examples." I recommend to my students that they review their english notebooks ahead of time to look over books they have read, character names, and themes ahead of time to build a brainstorming bank. I also recommend reviewing US history, in particular the Great Depression, as there are many lessons we can pull from the depression that apply to any argument. Another key is to focus on organization, as they are looking at how well you can construct an argument. Good luck.

- james, 06/19/09 at 9:30 am

Have a question or comment about this article? Leave me a message.