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Sat Essay Evaluation Grid

The SAT examination begins with a 25-minute writing task: The essay

You have no choice of topic: you have to write on the prompt given in a text box. For example you may see something like:

Time has a doomsday book, on whose pages he is continually recording illustrious names. But as often as a new name is written there, an old one disappears. Only a few stand in illuminated characters never to be effaced.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Underneath the prompt is the assignment � a statement that clarifies what you are supposed to do.

For example, after the issue given in the prompt above, you might see:

Are there some heroes who will be remembered forever? Or are all heroes doomed to be forgotten one day? Plan your response, and then write an essay to explain your views on this issue. Be sure to support your position with specific points and examples. (You may use personal examples or examples from your reading, observations, or, knowledge of subjects such as history, literature, science.)

The examiners tell us in the Official Guide to the SAT that there is �no formula for writing an effective essay�. This is not a helpful statement. In 25 minutes you do not have the luxury of experimenting with different essay formats. We suggest that you write a few practice essays in which you use one of the two essay formats we suggest. Find which one suits your style best and, as far as possible, stick to it.

Next steps

Choose an option below to learn about our essay formats. You will also find an essay evaluation grid, a list of SAT essay topics for you to practice on and two sample essays.

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Following a format
gives you the confidence that you can finish in the time limit
ensures you cover the topic adequately
gives a sensible structure to your essay

FORMAT I - The one-example essay

Select one suitable illustrative example from your personal experience, or your reading, or knowledge of current affairs, history, science etc. and use this as the basis for a discussion of the topic. The example should be specific and ‘real’ rather than invented. It is best to avoid religion or politics or anything controversial.

There is no word limit but a limited space is provided. The space you have to fill is approximately one and a half sides of A4 paper. The space is sufficient to write a five-paragraph essay. You will have to write in pencil.

Paragraph 1: Introduction

Try to create interest in the topic.
The introduction can be general but must include a thesis statement to point the reader in the right direction.

Paragraph 2: Part I of the example

Describe the situation and cover about half the “example” here.

Paragraph 3: Part II of the example

Finish the “example”.

Paragraph 4: Discussion/analysis

Explain what your example shows. Extract the conclusions/moral lessons to show how it supports your thesis.

Paragraph 5: General conclusion

Show how the example leads to more general conclusions about the topic. (If possible, relate to material from the introduction to round the essay off.)

Sample essay

SAT Sample essay 1 is an essay that uses this format

FORMAT II - The two-example essay

Paragraph 1: Introduction

Explain, in your own words, what the issue is. Include a thesis statement, which is a clear statement of your point of view.

Paragraph 2: Point one in support of your thesis

Explain the point you are making with the aid of a specific example.

Paragraph 3: Point two in support of your thesis

Explain the point you are making with the aid of a specific example

Paragraph 4: Qualification

Explain that, under certain circumstances, the opposite point of view might be correct. (This is to show that you are aware of all aspects of the issue, even though you are 80-90% convinced of your thesis.) [Sometimes this paragraph is replaced by another point and/or further discussion or reasoning.]

Paragraph 5: Reinforcement of thesis

Show how your viewpoint, despite the qualification you have just made, is more persuasive under the present circumstances.

Sample essay

SAT Sample Essay 2 is an essay that uses this format

Next steps

Choose an option below to learn about our essay formats. You will also find an essay evaluation grid, a list of SAT essay topics for you to practice on and two sample essays.

+ see more popular essays- hide popular essays