I am not going to lie – back in high school I had absolutely no idea how to write an effective SAT essay. Even after I was briefly schooled in essay-writing by my English teacher, I still was not sure how those SAT essays were evaluated. However, after doing much research through the good old internet, I arrived at a much better understanding of how to write a good essay that would surely impress whoever reads it.
So first thing’s first. To blow someone away with a killer essay, one needs to know the basics of properly writing an essay. First, follow the standard writing structure you were probably taught at some point in high school – intro, body, conclusion. Your intro should briefly summarize your point you are about to prove. The body of an essay should provide supporting examples of your thesis in the introductory portion of an essay. Don’t leave the reader feeling like the essay they just read was somehow incomplete, and wrap your essay up with a good conclusion. A good final paragraph is like a great dessert after a meal – it will leave the reader happy and satisfied.
Indent your paragraphs about a half-inch. You want to make things as clear as possible for the reader. Also, keep your hand-writing neat. You see, graders read hundreds of essays a day so they spend approximately two minutes reading each one. If they see an essay that is sloppy and hard to read, they will be less inclined to spend time deciphering your hand-writing and more inclined to scheme through the essay quickly.
It is often a good idea to include a few buzz-words, or a few SAT words in appropriate context in your essay. It doesn’t mean that you have to be the next Billy Shakespeare, but it does mean that a few well-placed big words create a good impression on a grader.
A good tip straight from Collegeboard is to not over-simplify what you are trying to say in your essay. Of course, time is not your friend and you may worry whether or not you will be able to say everything you want to say during the alloted time, but if you are trying to prove a point in an essay, make sure you do, in fact, prove it. That may mean providing several examples supporting your statement, or going in depth demonstrating your vast knowledge on a subject.
Providing at least one historical or literary example in your essay is probably a good idea. It is always good to demonstrate to that anonymous essay reader that you were paying attention in some teacher’s class. Don’t quote other people too much, though. Remember, this SAT essay is a kind of masterpiece of yours, and that is the only thing that really counts. An essay reader looks for originality of thought, not how many quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson you can plug in in one essay.
After you are finished writing, read over the essay making sure that you truly answered the question asked. It is easy to get carried away and go off on a tangent without fully answering the entire question. After that, read over the essay just one last time, checking for spelling and punctuation errors and improperly structured sentences.
Well, that’s it. Now it is time to hand your masterpiece in.