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SAT Tips from Veritas Prep

Why Every SAT Essay is the Same


Why Every SAT Essay is the Same

Photograph by Beau Lark/Corbis

This tip on improving your SAT score was provided by Veritas Prep.

We’re not quite sure why, but for some reason a lot of students tend to freak out over the prospect of having to write an essay for the SAT in 25 minutes. It might be that they have not gotten used to writing essays, don’t know how to organize their thoughts in a quick time, are afraid they won’t know anything about the essay prompt, or simply have had some kind of traumatic experience with in-class essays in school. No matter what the reason, there is absolutely no reason to fret over the SAT essay.

The purpose of the SAT essay is to give an objective gauge a student’s mastery of written English and how well the student can express his or her ideas in written form. This is a life skill that extends beyond just getting a good SAT score. If you look at almost any professional job post that pays well, you’ll notice that they always have “excellent written and verbal communications skills” listed as a requirement. Getting  good at writing early on will pay off huge in the future and the SAT is a good place to start if you have not dedicated time to getting good at writing yet.

Some students are specifically worried about the SAT essay prompt because it could potentially ask you to write about anything. However, the SAT purposefully makes the prompts very general in nature because students from all kinds of backgrounds will be taking the test. It would be unfair to make the prompts too specific or require too much outside knowledge in order to produce a response  In fact, College Board publishes a list of essay prompts that were used on the most recent administration of the SAT.  Let’s take a look at some of them:

Assignment: Is it more important to remain consistent than to change one’s mind when circumstances change? 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.

Assignment: Are teams or groups beneficial for individuals, or does group membership prevent individuals from forming their own moral judgments? 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.

Assignment: Does society place too much value on convenience? 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.

Assignment: Do consumers have a responsibility to purchase goods only from companies and people whose actions are beneficial to others? 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.

As you can see, the prompts are very general in nature and simply ask you to express and support your opinion on a particular topic. For any SAT essay, you can follow the same formula to put together your essay’s paragraphs:

• Introduction, explaining your position
• Example 1, supporting your position
• Example 2, supporting your position
• Example 3, supporting your position
• Conclusion, tying together your essay

After you’ve gotten the basic skeleton for your essay down, the only things that change are your examples and how you present them so that they support your stance on the topic. You can follow this formula for any kind of essay prompt on the SAT. Then, you just need to make sure you employ good transitions, use impressive vocabulary words, build advanced sentence structures ,and make sure to fill out both pages to the best of your ability to earn that high SAT essay score.

To practice, pick out some of the prompts above and time yourself for 25 minutes. Get used to organizing your thoughts and outline in 5 minutes and filling in your SAT essay skeleton for the remaining 20 minutes. After practicing a few times, you’ll find that you’ll be much more comfortable and prepared for the real thing.

Plan on taking the SAT soon? Sign-up for a trial of Veritas Prep SAT 2400 on Demand!

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Veritas Prep SAT Diagnostic Quiz

Created for Bloomberg Businessweek readers, this diagnostic quiz is designed to measure your ability level with 25 realistic SAT questions. Click here to take the quiz and get instant feedback about your performance.

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