So the big question is this: should you even care about your SAT essay? If it’s optional, and it doesn’t really affect your score, then why would any sane person take this thing at all?
Overall, my answer would be: just learn to write this essay well because it’s easy, it can’t really do any harm, and it COULD do some good.
So, now since you have decided to give the essay, it’s important to understand what it actually is about.
The SAT will provide you with an argumentative essay and you will have 50 minutes to read, plan, and write how effectively the author develops his or her argument. Basically, you have to
A) How the author uses evidence to make his or her point.
B) How the author uses reasoning to make his or her point.
C) How the author uses stylistic or persuasive elements to make his or her point.
3. Write your response in the four lined pages provided to you.
It’s essential to also understand that the PROMPT will ALWAYS be the same. The essay you read will always be different. But the prompt - the actual assignment and the set of tasks ahead of you, will be identical on every test.
Once you learn it, you’ve learned it for every SAT essay.
It will look like this:
“Write an essay in which you explain how the author builds an argument to persuade his/her audience that the point he or she is making is true. In your essay, analyze how the author uses evidence, reasoning, and persuasive/stylistic arguments to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of his/her argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage.
Your essay should not explain whether you agree with the author’s claims, but rather explain how the author builds an argument to persuade his or her audience.”
The three totals are then added up to get the final score, a value between 6 (the worst) and 24 (the best). This is the score colleges will look at.
What do these sub-scores mean?
Notice that you are NOT being graded on your opinions or your facts. You don’t need to know ANYTHING about ANYTHING in order to get a perfect score. Furthermore, you don’t need to come up with any opinions at all. It’s all there for you.
Instead, you’re simply being graded on how well you understand the opinions and facts provided by the author, and how well you can explain them to your own reader.
The house is built for you - the College Board is just asking you what it’s made of and how it’s built.
You just need the strategies that you are going to learn in the AP Guru SAT essay class and the chapters in this book. There’s a very limited set of strategies and procedures that you need to learn, and once you do, you’re going to be a SAT Essay maestro.
Now, you need to understand how the essay graders assign points for these different categories.
For every SAT session, the College Board receives hundreds of thousands of essays from students across the world. How on earth does it manage to grade every single one of them in 2-3 weeks?
First, it hires a bunch of teachers who presumably know something about grading papers. But that still does not solve the problem. Next, it has to standardize the grading process so that scores remain consistent across the board and the teachers can get through the sheer number of essays quickly.
The College Board standardizes the process by asking graders to put their own opinions aside and solely correct using set guidelines. Any flashes of your literary brilliance will be glossed over in a ruthless grading procedure that only cares about whether your work matches the standard model.
Your job, then, is not to write a masterpiece. This isn’t your IB English class. The teacher won’t be looking at every word and dissecting all your punctuation marks. Instead, your job is simply to write something that fits the guidelines. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be innovative and it doesn’t have to be in your voice and style. Just give them what they want.
The following is what we will learn in the next few chapters and what you have to do:
If you are confused, it’s okay. We will go through each point in the subsequent chapters. One last point before we move to the next chapter.
One question that all my students ask me: Does the length of my SAT essay affect my score? The short answer is: YES. Longer essays usually get better grades.
If you aren’t filling all four pages of your booklet, it’s not the end of the world. But if you’re barely filling up two pages, that’s going to be a problem.
HOWEVER, there’s a risk here: the longer your essay is, the more chances there are for you to go off-topic, break up your structure, or put in random sentences that kill the flow of your essay. You especially don’t want to go off topic - that’s the ultimate essay score destroyer. By planning your essay in advance and sticking to the template you’re about to learn, you will ensure you do not go off-topic.
The best way to expand your essays is to expand the number of elements that you put into each body paragraph. For instance, if you’re coming up short, you can add more pieces of evidence and reasoning into a paragraph.