The Importance of Well-Reasoned: Simple, Strong and Straightforward.
With only 25 minutes to write an excellent SAT essay a student must know what they can and cannot accomplish. Almost all of the topics could lend themselves to 5 page typed papers if a student were given the time to write one.
This is NOT what the Test Graders are looking for.
Test Graders are looking for students to demonstrate solid, strong proficiency in the area of essay writing when they only have a limited amount of time. The secret to successfully accomplishing this is found in the three S’s: SIMPLE, STRONG AND STRAIGHTFORWARD.
Make SIMPLE Arguments
Being Simple does not mean being stupid, unsophisticated or unintelligent. Being simple means being; clear, precise and achievable.
Simple equals Clear.
- On a timed test, the clarity of an argument adds to a student’s score. Some students try to tackle too much and get embroiled in convoluted thought processes that tangle them up more than they help them out. BEING CLEAR allows you to score higher.
Simple equals Precise.
- On a timed test, the preciseness of an argument adds to a student’s score. Communicating a specific idea in a clear-cut manner allows a Test Grader to see evidence that the student can fashion a distinct, precise perspective in a limited amount of time, which allows you to score higher.
Simple equals Achievable.
- On a timed test, completing one’s thoughts – and not leaving ideas or essays incomplete – adds to a student’s score. Many students begin elaborate, complicated patterns of logic that require 26 sentences to explain. This makes it very tough for them to finish the essay and opens the door up for them to make avoidable mistakes like constructing run-on sentences, engaging in convoluted logic or simply not finishing the essay because they have run out of time.
* You do not want to run out of time. As discussed earlier, you need a strong conclusion to score well. If you try to tackle an overly complicated thought process, you might not finish in the allotted time frame. ACHIEVING COMPLETION OF YOUR ESSAY IN THE TIME ALLOWED IS A BIG PART OF SCORING WELL. Simplicity allows you to do this.
Make STRONG Arguments
Break out the big guns right away! Find your biggest, most solid, most forceful, most dominant, #1 point and ADDRESS IT FIRST!!!
Some students have 2 small points and then one really big one and they figure that they will save the biggest one for last and go with the smaller ones first. This is a bad strategy for the SAT essay!
Remember, on a holistically graded test such as this, strong impressions count and the best way to make a really strong impression is by going with your number 1, biggest, strongest, most influential point first. Besides, there might not even be enough time to get to your #1 argument if you wait. (And wouldn’t that be a shame if you had saved your best for last but never got a chance to use your best due to time constraints?)
- Each paragraph should make a specific, solid point.
- Each sentence should make a specific, solid point that relates to the overall, specific, solid point of the paragraph.
- Use your best first.
Make STRAIGHTFORWARD Arguments
Avoid over-complicated, intricate, sophisticated patterns of logic and reasoning. They suck up tons of time, open up the door for too many simple grammatical and punctuation mistakes to happen and they tend to cause students to ramble and go on straying tangents. Remember the Umbrella Theory? Arguments that stray from underneath the umbrella of the main point (either of the topic sentence or of the thesis statement) open up a student’s test to a rainstorm of point subtraction.
Remember, a straightforward argument…
- Creates an achievable goal because time is limited.
- Prevents straying from the essential point.
- Avoid Over-Extended logic patterns that create opportunities for missteps.
Something Else your Essay MUST HAVE to Earn Higher Scores: A POINT OF VIEW (P.O.V.)
Test Graders want to see you take a clear position in your answer.
- Test questions do not have right or wrong answers – they are subjective, interpretive, open-ended questions. Therefore, ASSERT YOUR OPINION.
- You will not be penalized for the stance you take on a matter, nor on your beliefs. Your ideas are your ideas, however… YOU WILL NOT SCORE HIGH IF YOU DO NOT TAKE A STANCE OR PUT FORTH YOUR BELIEFS!
HAVING A CLEAR POINT OF VIEW INCREASES YOUR ESSAY SCORE NOT HAVING AN OBVIOUS P.O.V. DETRACTS POINTS FROM YOUR SCORE.
- Having an obvious P.O.V., countering with an opposing P.O.V. and then re-asserting an additional reason to support your own P.O.V. raises your scores into the upper echelons of the grading rubric.
You will not be marked down by a scorer because they disagree with your argument. You will be marked down by a scorer if you do not take a position and make an argument.
SPECIAL SECTION: Do NOT B.S.
- Trying to impress scorers by using big vocabulary words you are not sure how to use properly detracts from – not adds to – your score.
- Trying to impress scorers by sounding artificially sophisticated when you do not know what you are talking about detracts from – not adds to –your score.
- Writing simply for the sake of writing (i.e. aimless, wandering, & imprecise sentences written just to fill space on the page) detracts from – not adds to – your overall score.
Test Graders are masters at detecting B.S. so don’t even try it.
- Make real points.
- Take a definite P.O.V.
- Implement the proper, 4 paragraph structure.
- Use specific details and vivid language.
- Include a personal example from your own, unique life.
* If you do all of this, there is no need to B.S. – you will be in good shape.