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SAT Essay Writing Section

Wish You Were Born a Little Earlier?


Some students are a little intimidated by the writing portion of the SAT; after all, the test has increased in length with the addition of this section. Fortunately, most students find that the writing section is perfectly manageable.

The Format

The SAT I is now a three-part test instead of a two-part, with a perfect score of 2400 instead of 1600. The writing section itself lasts 60 minutes, with a multiple choice section lasting 35 minutes and an essay-writing portion of 25 minutes.

Why the change? Actually, this isn't the first time the SAT requirements have been adjusted. The test has evolved along with society.

As a matter of fact, the essay requirement was recommended and considered long ago, but the technology of the day couldn't accommodate the transmitting and grading of essays on a large scale. Technology has changed, and so has the test.

Worried About the Time Requirement?

As mentioned above, the essay-writing portion is a timed test, allowing students 25 minutes to plan, outline, and write. The problem is that some students are so concerned about the clock that they skip over the planning and outlining and dive straight into writing.

Don't make this mistake! Some gifted writers may get away with writing off the cuff, developing ideas as they write. For most people, however, it's a good idea to jot down ideas and important points before starting. As always, get organized before you start!

It might help to know that nobody will expect your essay to be perfect. It will be considered a first draft, and the reader will not hold it against you if you have a few scratch-outs or if you struggle with bad handwriting.

Even a few spelling mistakes are OK. But consistent mistakes will affect your score. It would be a good idea to study some of the most common spelling mistakes and word mix-up's as you prepare for the test.

What to Expect from the Essay Assignment

The essay assignment consists of one topic, unlike other essay tests which offer a choice of topics. In other words, students won't be able to choose a question.

Do not try to change the question. Stick to the topic you're given.

The essay assignment follows a specific format. One part of the test question contains a quote, paragraph or passage from a specific book. The passage will address a specific issue.

The other portion asks you to develop and explain your point of view on the issue. You are encouraged to use examples from your own experience, as well as thoughts from other books or articles you've read.

Remember that this is a personal essay, asking for your opinion. Speak from your own point of view, using phrases like "I think" or "I strongly believe," and then be sure to back up your point with evidence and examples.

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