Here are some SAT essay tips. Firstly it’s good to know that the SAT test essay is quite different from its former format, hence do check the date of some websites and textbooks. Also refer to the College Board website for the description of all aspects of the SAT including the subject tests. Think of the essay section like a mini critique that you’d write for school except its not exactly a literary critique nor a persuasive essay. It’s more a functional reflection of your understanding of an article excerpt. Students are given a passage to read. They then have to analyze how the author uses persuasive techniques to support his or her claim. Students are scored on how they read, analyze and organize their essay.

1. The SAT Essay section will provide a passage between 650 and 750 words which you should read carefully. You are given 50 minutes to write the SAT Essay. You can therefore take 5 minutes to plan your approach.

2. You can indeed use the 5 body paragraph method, with one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs and one conclusive paragraph. The essay length expected is between 650 and 750 words.

3. The whole intention of this new format is to allow you to showcase your ability to analyze the argument of a passage. You should focus on how the author utilizes evidence, reasoning and rhetorical elements to make his or her claim and be persuasive. In other words WHAT and HOW a message is being relayed.


4. You will hence be looking at WHAT type of information ie. evidence the author is using. This could comprise of a variety of support. A) ACADEMIC and PROFESSIONAL FACTS are delivered through expertise, academic studies and quotes. This can include statistics. Such information garners the respect of the reader and hence elicits more trust. B) ALLUSIONS to religion, history or popular culture help the reader understand the broad expanse a topic covers and it often adds context to the information. C) ANECDOTES often involve sentiment, such as nostalgia, while the vivid imagery in personal accounts draws the reader in and can often be more engaging than cold hard facts. (Note B & C are also rhetorical devices.)


5. The College Board also invites you to explain the author’s power of reasoning. You can do this in 2 ways.

A) It’s possible to show how the author uses EXPLANATION and links such evidence to the thesis. A word of caution. You will find that when you describe how the author is persuasive in taking facts from an academic study to present his or her case, you are essentially showing how the author uses explanation. Therefore if you choose a body paragraph topic such as facts and statistics, try to avoid writing another separate paragraph on explanation. You will find there is too much overlap and it’s very likely you won’t score as high for analysis or writing.

B) It is, however, very possible to discuss COUNTERARGUMENT quite effectively even after you have discussed a topic about academic facts and statistics. This is because there is enough to write about how the author mentions an opposing view and then knocks down the view with a short rebuttal. You will find that there is quite a fair bit you can do to detail how the author displays ample knowledge as well as fairness in presenting more than one point of view.


6. Many good article writers not only bring up quality evidence, they often articulate their ideas well using various stylistic devices such as SYMBOLISM, METAPHOR, SIMILE, DICTION, and even VIVID IMAGERY. These elements bring evidence to life and often appeal to the reader’s emotion. They also appeal to a reader’s imagination while specific diction elicits specific responses such as respect or even curiosity. Finally, another emotionally directed method is when an author uses RHETORICAL QUESTIONS which is meant to draw the reader into becoming involved with the topic discussed.

7. Citing 3 key techniques is adequate but it’s vital to make sure you can write one paragraph about each technique. Alternately, you can discuss two closely related techniques in the same paragraph, such as vivid language and emotionally weighted diction.

8. Lastly, it’s also important to note that you shouldn’t try to spend too much time explaining the writer’s thesis, rather you should be explaining what techniques the writer utilises to defend his or her thesis. What a college is trying to assess is your ability to understand and appreciate various techniques that articles contain, thus showing your own critical ability.

Here is an example of an SAT Essay.