Excerpted from Professor Dave’s Owner’s Manual for the SAT and ACT Essays…

 

About the SAT Essay

 

The SAT essay was added in 2005 at the behest of colleges and universities that wanted to see writing samples from prospective students.

 

The entire SAT was re-vamped in 2005 to include the writing section, which is made up of two multiple-choice question sections and the SAT essay.

 

The SAT essay is always the very first section of the SAT. Bright and early on a Saturday morning, (or Sunday if you’re a Sunday test-taker) you are told to “Begin!” The first thing you will see is that wonderful essay prompt.

 

The SAT essay asks you to take a position on a philosophical issue. Do we need more privacy in our lives? Are people a product of their environment? Is a strict government helpful or harmful to the growth of a society?  It is always a question that can be answered by anyone, it is never specialized knowledge such as how to build a house or drive a car.

 

You are given twenty-five minutes to write an essay on the ASSIGNMENT given on the essay page. It may not sound like a lot of time, but if you are prepared, it will be more than enough.

 

The essay will be graded by two individuals on a scale of 0-6. The scores are then added together to give you a final score of 0-12. The graders must agree on score or vary by no more than one point or the essay is given to a supervisory grader for final assessment.

 

The only important part of the essay assignment page is: Assignment:

 

You can ignore the rest, it is just fluff, and usually does nothing to add to your understanding of the issue. It is better to come into the assignment thinking process with a “clean slate.”

 

The SAT essay makes up approximately 28%-33% of your Writing score on the SAT. Your multiple choice score will be calculated, then your final Writing Section score determined by your essay score. For example, based on your scaled writing score on the multiple choice questions, the following chart will show you what final Writing Section score you would receive based on your essay score.

 

Writing Raw Score              12               10                     8                       6                       4                       2                          0

 

25

370

340

300

270

240

210

200

30

420

390

350

330

290

260

230

35

460

430

390

350

330

300

280

40

500

470

430

400

370

340

330

45

540

510

470

430

410

380

360

50

590

560

520

480

460

430

410

55

630

590

550

520

490

460

440

60

670

640

600

560

540

510

490

65

710

680

640

610

580

550

530

70

750

710

670

640

610

580

560

75

800

770

730

690

670

640

620

80

800

800

790

750

720

690

680

 

 

 

You can clearly see what a major impact your essay score has on your final writing score. A good essay can move you from the 400’s to the 600’s!

 

It is a vital component to an excellent writing score. It also does what it says – gives colleges and universities a writing sample from you, the prospective student. It’s important.

 

This section is only a brief introduction to the SAT essay. We will explore every aspect of it, and how to write great essays, in later chapters.

 

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