Spring is here, which also means that the next SAT test dates are quickly approaching. If you are registered for this test period, you have probably already begun studying. But if you are like many students, one section of the test may have you stressing in particular: the Essay. These 5 tips will help you see how to turn the Essay into a strength rather than a weakness.

Tip #1: Study Practice Essays

During your study period you will begin practicing essays by using sample essay prompts. What better way to learn what a successful essay looks like than by using an example of one? Better yet, compare and contrast your essays with the sample ones to look for areas you can improve.

Tip #2: Write an Outline and Stick to the Formula

On test day you will want to use core essay features such as an introduction to the topic, body paragraphs with examples, and a conclusion/summary discussion. Whatever structure or formula you will use, you want to have it firmly in mind before writing the essay on your test. You will then feel confident to jump right into writing the essay, whereas worrying about formatting issues could cost you valuable time. If you have time, you may also benefit by sketching a brief outline of your essay during the test before the real one.

Tip #3: Pick a Position and Show How the Other is False

In the prompt question, you will want to clearly choose one side and make a strong and confident argument for it in opposition to the other side. Agreeing with both sides or writing about a position that is not on the prompt is risky because it could read as vague or off-topic.

Tip #4: Use Details, Logic, and Vocabulary . . .

In your body paragraphs, your best strategies is to use specific examples. These make for the strongest argument because they serve as the justification for the conclusion you will draw. You also want your argument to be logically constructed in a way that shows flaws in the opposite position (that is, refute it). Finally, you will want to make use of vocabulary words that will set your article apart from others and demonstrate your knowledge.

Tip #5: . . . But Only in the Correct Manner

Remember that big vocab words or logical devices only work in your favor if they are correctly used. A common mistake is for students to “name-drop” a variety of words they do not know how to use correctly. Rule of thumb: skip word usage that will sound like jargon unless you are confident in the correct usage.

With these 5 tips in hand and a proper amount of preparation for the SAT, you should be feeling much better come test day.

The next SAT tests are scheduled to be administered May 2nd and June 6th, 2015.


Credit for photo used in image: 4season_santa

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