The optional 50 minute essay at the end of the test requires a student to read a 650-750 word article and then write an essay that analyzes the author’s use of rhetorical techniques, evidence, and reasoning and how that contributes to the article’s persuasiveness. Students should have a thorough understanding of rhetorical devices and how textual evidence and reasoning can be used to build an argument.
The essay is scored by two graders, who each assess the essay in three categories, on a 1-4 point scale.
DO know if you’re required to take the essay.
Many schools require the essay and some do not. If you’re not exactly sure which schools you’ll apply to, register for the SAT with the essay so your scores will be usable no matter where you apply.
DO read the prompt closely and digest the entire passage before starting to write.
You need to put some careful thought into how you’ll construct and organize your essay. Even though it’s a timed essay, you shouldn’t immediately start writing.
DO respond directly to the prompt.
An off-topic essay or one that focuses on your opinions will receive no credit.
DON’T discuss whether you agree or disagree with the author.
You’re asked to assess HOW the author builds his/her argument, not your personal opinion of the issue.
DON’T run out of time.
You should spend about 15 minutes reading and drafting, 30 minutes writing, and 5 minutes editing.
DON’T forget to edit.
Spend the last 3-5 minutes reading your essay through and making small changes to spelling and grammar. Don’t worry about having a perfect essay, but make sure mistakes don’t interfere with the overall clarity of your writing.
Focused prep equips students with the skills they need to succeed on the SAT Essay. Click the button below to learn more about our programs, view class schedules, or register for SAT Prep.