The ability to clearly communicate your ideas through effective writing is crucial to your success in college and career. The SAT essay is the first section you’ll complete on the exam and is designed to demonstrate how well you can develop, support, and present a point of view on a given topic. Essay topics represent a variety of categories – politics, history, current events, sports, the arts, and literature. You do not need specialized knowledge in order to write an effective essay, and you can draw from personal experiences, observations, current events, literature, and your academic work in order to robustly support your viewpoint.   Each essay is scored on a scale of 1 – 6, and you will have 25 minutes to write your response.


Read through the following tips to help you write an outstanding essay:

  • Read the prompt carefully.
  • Write to the given topic. Off-topic responses will receive a score of 0.
  • Spend the first five minutes of the task planning your response. What is your viewpoint on the topic? Write an outline, including your thesis. Brainstorm examples you can use to support your viewpoint.
  • There is no specified length for your response. Make sure to include an introduction, body paragraphs (as many as you need to effectively answer the question), and a conclusion.
  • Vary your sentence structure to include simple, compound, and complex sentences.
  • Use appropriate vocabulary that is varied and specific.
  • Spend a minute or two reviewing your response. You may be able to make minor revisions.
  • Use a pencil to write the essay. Essays written in pen will receive a score of 0.

Don’t forget that one of the best ways to improve your writing is to read good writing! Make sure you are reading a variety of well-written, challenging texts from diverse genres in order to see and reinforce what good writing looks like.


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