The SAT essay test is an optional test that you can take aside from the regular SAT. You may be wondering why there are some students who decide to take the essay test when it is optional. The answer lies in how far an incoming college student will go to be accepted to their college of choice.
There are colleges that require the SAT essay test and there are others that don’t. There are also some colleges that don’t require the essay test but consider it in the acceptance process. Let’s just put it this way, the SAT essay test is one way to impress the college you are applying to.
How Hard Is The SAT Essay Test?
The good news is that the SAT essay test only has one passage to read and you have 50 minutes to finish the test. Easy, right?
The not-so-good news is that the passage you will be reading will be a 650 to 750 word, persuasive article that could be confusing. The passage will be about a certain issue and the author will try to convince the readers to take his side.
Your job is to write an essay explaining how the author built his argument—from start to finish. Simply put, you will have to critique the author’s logic and how he presented his ideas. If you love debates, then this is right in your alley, but if you don’t like debates and you don’t like logic, then you need to brush up on your logic knowledge.
Main Skills Tested On The Essay Test
There are two skills that the SAT essay test will challenge—writing and reasoning. These skills have elements that you may want to improve.
- Solid grammar
- Organization of ideas or coherence
- Presentation of thought
- The inductive and deductive reasoning
- Focus on the issue
- Quick thinking
A List Of Don’ts For The SAT Essay Test
These tips will help you focus on what the essay test wants you to do and not waste time writing things you should not include in your SAT essay.
Do not write about the topic itself.
You only need to write how the author presents his or her arguments.
Don’t argue with the passage.
You are not asked to prove the passage right or wrong. All you are asked to do is analyze and explain how the author builds his argument.
Don’t dwell on the topic.
Your opinion on the topic is not important, what is important is you are able to explain the argument of the passage.
Don’t over-think or over-analyze.
Over-thinking would waste a lot of time. Instead, develop your argumentation skills months before the test.
Don’t let the topic affect you.
The passage in the test may be about a topic that you care about. If the passage disagrees with your point of view, don’t let that ruin your day. Just stay calm and write how the author builds his arguments.
Skills That Will Help You
If you want to ace the SAT essay test, you need to acquire, develop and master some specific skills. Here are some of them:
- Learn about the different logical fallacies
- Brush up on your inductive and deductive reasoning skills
- Improve your reading comprehension skills
- Learn about the different types of cognitive biases
- Brush up on your knowledge of logic
- Be aware of different issues in the world because the topic will most likely be a current issue
- Improve your focus and concentration.
- Improve your writing skills, including grammar and vocabulary
How To Prepare For The SAT Essay Test
Unlike the other sections in SAT, you don’t need to memorize information or remember formulas for the essay. What you need is a solid argumentative skill. Here are some ways to develop that skill:
- Read opinion sections in the newspaper or online news websites and try to deconstruct their arguments.
- Watch popular opinion -based shows.
- Read philosophical books.
- Engage a friend in a friendly debate.
- practice your debating skills on comment sections on websites such as Facebook or YouTube.
- Practice writing a persuasive article about a topic you care about.
- Get an SAT essay practice test sheet.
How The SAT Essay Test Is Scored
Your SAT essay will be graded by two evaluators based on three categories—reading, analysis, and writing. The scores for each criteria will be from 1 to 4. After they grade each category, they will add the scores for the final score that will range from 2 to 8. The categories are further explained below.
- The Reading score on this depends on how well you show your understanding of the passage based on your essay.
- The analysis score is based on how well you analyzed the arguments in the passage and how you explained it in your essay.
- The writing score is about how good your writing was.
It is not difficult to get a good score on the SAT essay test if you prepared well by following the tips in this article and also by being focused during the test itself.
While the SAT essay test is not a required part of the SAT test, there are colleges that require it. So before deciding not to take the SAT essay test, make sure that it is really not a requirement of the college you want to enroll in. Even if your chosen college does not require an SAT essay test, it is still a good idea to take it because it opens up opportunities to go to other schools that do require it. Finally, the SAT essay test also helps you gauge your preparedness for college since argumentation and reasoning skills are a big part of college life and beyond.