Search Results for: essay

When writing an essay, is it true that the SAT doesn’t penalize if the example given contains incorrect or made-up information to support the prompt?

This is technically true, but flaunt it at your peril. Most people who find this out and then decide to just fabricate their whole essay end up doing poorly because they’re not as clever as they think they are.

SAT prompt is “Does our society value certainty more than wisdom”. I read the prompt without reading the excerpt, so I misunderstood it, which should be interpreted “People who are certain seem sure about everything and think this will help to conceal weaknesses, while wise people tend to doubt everything.” I understand “certainty” means the steady growth and stability of the society and “wisdom” is the use of wisdom to get greater benefits (power, profits), sometimes unfairly. Will I receive 0?

Look—I’ve never personally known a student who got a zero, and I’ve known lots of students who didn’t fully understand the prompt. That’s not what zeros are for.

Zeros are for essays that are clearly prefabricated and have nothing to do with the prompt. In other words, zeros are for cheaters. As long as what you wrote looks like you made an effort to respond to the prompt, even if you missed the point, you won’t get a zero.

So my friend gave the Dec SAT today and he was only given 15 min by his proctor for the Essay! What should one do in such a situation?

Unfortunately, the only real time to fix a problem like that is during the test, right when the proctor makes the mistake. Afterwards, there’s not much you can do that won’t just invalidate the whole day for you.

Hello Mike,
Is it necessary to fill up the two pages on the essay in order to have a high score?

It doesn’t hurt, but it’s definitely not sufficient. Try to fill the pages, but make sure you’re filling them with worthwhile stuff. The reason longer essays get higher scores is because better writers tend to have more to say, not because there’s some secret word count that you need to hit.

Hey, thanks so much for your blog and your essay guide!! I got a 2330 but I am not really satisfied with my math score(740). I plan on pursuing a career in STEM, so do you recommend I take the test again? I am capable of doing much better than this…

Wow—that’s a pretty incredible score! (You guys, I really love this part of the job.)

I don’t think you need to take it again, but I’ve also been at this long enough to know that no amount of reassurances from me will make you feel better if, in your heart, you really want to keep taking the test. Follow your bliss. 🙂

November scores are out today and I got a 2120! (Almost a 200 point increase from my first SAT) Your Essay Guide and Math Guide helped so much (although there is still room to improve for my math so I’ll be working on that) so thank you! Critical Reading is still my weakest category… to improve in that category, should I just do more practice sections?

Wow, congrats! 200 points when you’re already starting around 1900 is a big improvement that’s tough to get!

To improve your critical reading score further, you’re going to have to get better at eliminating wrong choices. Every time you get a reading question wrong on a practice test, go back and figure out not only why the correct answer is correct, butwhy the answer you chose should have been eliminated. There is no second best answer—there are 4 wrong ones and 1 right one. Start thinking about CR in those terms, and review passages diligently, and your score will (slowly) improve.

Note: This book was designed for the old SAT, which was given for the last time in January 2016. It won’t help you much on the new SAT essay. Don’t buy it unless you have a specific, off-label use in mind.

There’s a rampant belief in the world of test prep that the SAT essay can be beaten with a few little tricks. This is unfortunate for two reasons. First, it isn’t true. Second, it compels students to spend their SAT prep time memorizing hackneyed essay templates, rather than working to become better, more persuasive writers.

PWN the SAT: Essay Guide is aimed at high-achieving students who understand that the surest way to receive a high SAT essay score is to produce a thoughtful and convincing essay. This book will help you develop strong rhetorical skills that will not only deliver high SAT essay scores, but also continue to pay dividends in college and beyond.

In this book you’ll learn:

  • How the SAT essay is scored and how that should inform your writing
  • How your essay score will influence your overall SAT writing score
  • A step-by-step process for picking a position, outlining, and writing your essay
  • The DOs and DON’Ts of essay writing
  • How it all comes together via critiques of sample essays written by real students

As an added bonus, since vocabulary is such an important part of SAT prep, the text is sprinkled with bold-font vocab words for easy lookup. Cool, right? I know.

Is it acceptable to use examples from fantasy novels and TV shows in my essays? Will this cause a decrease in my score?

If you’re confident in your ability to write about that stuff well, then go for it. I know a student who got a very high score with an essay about SpongeBob Squarepants.

My essay score was higher when I used one personal example and one historical example than when I used to literature examples. (I expected my score to be higher with literature examples and lower with personal and historical example…) Can you tell me a way or a format to write body paragraphs with literature examples?

There are lots of reasons other than the kinds of examples you used that almost certainly had more of an impact on your score. For example, how well did the examples fit the prompt? How well did you tie them into an argument? Did you make any grammar errors like you did in this question? 🙂

For many people, fitting meaningful personal examples into an argument is easier than trying to squeeze examples from literature, which might not feel like as good of a fit, into the same argument. It’s not that there’s a way to write a literature example body paragraph that’s any different than any other paragraph—it’s the selection of the example that matters.

Today I finished reading your Essay Guide (which was very helpful thank you!). I have a quick question on the body paragraphs of an essay. From my understanding, it seems as if a body paragraph for the SAT includes a mini-thesis, and details germane to the thesis follow. Now I’ve been taught that a general body paragraph structure should be topic sentence, evidence, commentary, evidence commentary. Would you say that, for an SAT essay, this structure should be ignored?

Sounds more to me like those are different ways of saying the same thing! Mini-thesis = topic sentence, etc.

Hi Mike,
I got a 10 on the October essay, which was “is it effective for leaders to compromise?” I really thought it was better than a 10, and got 1 MC wrong (770). Some of the essay is illegible due to the scanning,-even though I did erase a lot-it was readable when I proofread. Unfortunately, my whole first line, is unreadable! Should I try to get the College Board to regrade it? I’m not sure what to do/how to do it.
-Not sure how to post image of essay
Thanks for you help!

From College Board’s page on score verification:

“If you choose to have your essay score verified, the College Board will determine whether there was an error made in the scanning or processing of the essay scores assigned by essay readers. In this situation, your adjusted score is automatically reported and your fee is refunded.

IMPORTANT: The verification of essay scores does not include rereading the essay or an appeal of the essay score. The score verification fee will not be refunded for essays written in pen.”

So the question is, really, whether it’s worth $55 for you to go from almost perfect (770) to possibly higher. That depends on how much $55 means to you. 🙂

I struggle a lot with coming up with good pieces of evidence for essay prompts. Do you recommend I just research a copious amount of “could be” pieces of evidence? And what do you recommend doing if, while taking the SAT, you can not think of sufficient pieces of evidence for the prompt? I personally hate making stuff up, so when I come to a prompt that I have very little knowledge about, I usually draw a blank, and am unsure of what to do.

Yes—do some research. Also, spend some time going through the books you’ve read for school over the past couple years and writing them all down. You might find that although these things haven’t sprung to mind in the past as great examples, the act of writing this list helps you realize that you have more to draw on than you think.

Ok so I just found out about the new essay grading policy for the Essay Guide Owners.
The thing is, I am an international with no reputable SAT tutor near me. One of the major reasons why I bought your Essay guide was because it offered online grading by you, someone I’d come to trust after reading your math guide and seeing huge improvements. So my question is, if I purchase your essay guide again after my three essays are over, would you be able to grade another 3?

To get everyone else caught up: since I released the Essay Guide, I have offered a service whereby folks who purchased the book became registered owners on this site could submit essays to be graded by me. Most people submitted one or two, and the volume of essays I received on a weekly basis was not overwhelming, so I never set an explicit limit on the number of submissions.

In the weeks leading up to the October test, the volume became, for the first time, pretty overwhelming: grading essays started taking up a lot of my time. I didn’t think it was fair to institute a policy change right before a test, so I waited until after the test to announce that, going forward, there is a three essay limit per user. Essays submitted before the policy change don’t count. (In your case, question asker, that means the four I’ve already graded for you don’t count, but the one you submitted today counts against your limit. After today, you have two more to submit for free.)

My thinking on this particular policy is that three essays is enough for a user to get feedback and improve, but few enough that students who are really interested in improving won’t submit essays before they read the book, or submit multiple essays of identical quality on the same day.

Anyway, to answer your question, send me an email once you’ve used up your free ones and we can figure out a way to have you continue to submit more without you having to buy a new book that you don’t need.

Essay preparation.

Firing them at you thick and fast. How long would you set aside for dedicated essay preparation (using probably only your book and focusing on writing extensively) ?

I am planning on writing the Oct 3rd SAT, and had set aside ten days two weeks immediately before the test date to focus solely on the essay (probably some revision as well).

Would you cut this a little differently ?

10 days is probably enough for the essay, but on the actual SAT, you’ll need to change gears quickly between reading, writing, and math, so I always recommend prepping for all three at the same time—one day of CR and M, one day of W and CR, one day of M and W, etc. The danger in spending so much time in the last 2 weeks on only one thing is that you allow your other skills to atrophy a bit. Try to make a study plan that will allow you to keep prepping for the whole test in those last 2 weeks.

Is it possible to use examples in the SAT Essay from books that I haven’t read but have gone through their summaries?

Yeah, although I wouldn’t unless I didn’t have any other examples I could use that I knew a little better. You write best when you know what you’re writing about very well.