How to Write a Quality SAT Essay in Under 25 Minutes
If you look through the sample essays in your SAT test prep book, you will realise that despite what people say to the contrary, the most obvious factor that is common among all the published essays is the length. Simply said, long essays generally get higher scores than short essays. But producing a long essay in a short period of 25 minutes can be a difficult task for even an award-winning writer, and even more so for a high school student. But don’t worry, it’s actually not an impossible task. As long as you follow these tips on writing a killer SAT essay in 25 minutes, you should be well on your way in acing your SAT test.
1 Write more than one and a half pages
So now you know you have to write a long essay to get a SAT high score. But exactly how long should you write? Ideally, you should write more than one and a half pages out of the two pages provided to you. In fact, try to finish within the very last few lines of the last page.
2 Write 4-5 paragraphs in your essay
Settle for 4-5 paragraphs that consist of an interesting introduction, 2-3 body paragraphs and a decisive conclusion. An inside source of the Princeton Review has revealed that the SAT essays are first scanned by computers to count how many lines are written and how many paragraphs there are. Essays that are either too short or unstructured (not enough paragraphs) are already given low scores (1-3) by a computer. Your essay is given a score before it’s even read by a real person!
3 “Super indent” each paragraph
Now that you know your essay is being assigned a score from a computer, it’s important that you “super indent” each paragraph so that the computer will be able to identify new paragraphs in your essay easily. You do not want the computer to accidentally key in a low score because it didn’t realise that your essay has met the” 4-5 paragraphs” requirement. Consider applying two-inch indent (at least one full thumb-length) on the first line of each paragraph.
4 Plan an outline, then speed write
Although time is limited, it’s still important for you to set aside the first two to three minutes writing a short outline of your essay. Jot down the gist of your thesis and two convincing examples that prove your point. The more impactful example should be written after the less impactful one.
Once you are done, spend the next 20 minutes speed writing. Remember to stick to your outline and write a decisive conclusion before time runs out. You should have some time to proofread your essay quickly. Time is extremely short though, so force yourself to write a concluding paragraph even in the expense of proofreading. You will not get a high score no matter how well your body paragraphs are without a conclusion.
If you have a couple of minutes to spare after writing your conclusion, check through your essay and make simple edits and corrections while making sure it looks generally neat and tidy
5 Write legibly
It’s easy to let your handwriting look sloppy and messy when you are in a rush. But keep in mind that SAT test readers have hundreds of essays each day. If you don’t write legibly, they will not bother to spend more time than required to read your essay just to decipher what you wrote. You will then risk your essay not being properly read.
6 Write clearly and succinctly
Ensure that you state each of your point clearly and succinctly in each topic sentence. Customise each of your topic sentences to reflect your essay’s thesis. Then elaborate on the topic sentence in your respective body paragraph. Keep in mind that the conclusion is the shortest paragraph in your essay. Try to end your essay with a thoughtful line to stand out to the reader.
7 Don’t be a perfectionist
Remember that you do not have time to write an excellent, well-polished essay. Don’t expect to write your best essay during your SAT. The most important thing is to complete the essay on time.
Follow the given tips and you should be well on your way to write a kicker SAT essay. If you are not used to writing quickly, then remember to practise. You will be accustomed to it after a few times.
Jaime is an independent test preparation consultant specialising in SAT preparation. Apart from helping candidates to improve their scores through a customised SAT course, he actively contributes to websites related to SAT Singapore.