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Unit 7: Lesson 3

SAT Essay: high-scoring student example #1

These sample SAT essays are provided by the College Board, the creators of the SAT. They include real, scored student responses with an explanation of each score.

Sat essay prompt.

Student Response

"In telling this brief anecdote, Bogard challenges the audience to remember a time where they could fully amass themselves in natural darkness void of artificial light. By drawing in his readers with a personal encounter...the author means to establish the potential for beauty, glamour, and awe-inspiring mystery that genuine darkness can possess.... This anecdote provides a baseline of sorts for readers to find credence with the author’s claims" .

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to write an sat essay, step by step.

SAT Writing , SAT Essay


Writing an SAT essay consists of four major stages :

  • Reading : 5-10 minutes
  • Analyzing & Planning : 7-12 minutes
  • Writing : 25-35 minutes
  • Revising : 2-3 minutes

There’s a wide time range for a few of these stages, since people work at different rates. Some people, for instance, will be a lot faster at reading than they are at planning, while it might be the other way around for others. You'll need to find the timing combination that works best for you through a little bit of trial and error.

Writing takes the large bulk of the 50 minutes, but reading and analyzing and planning are equally important parts of the SAT essay writing process.

Stage 1: Read the Passage (5-10 minutes)

There are a couple of different ways to read through the passage on the SAT essay, each with their own advantages. No matter which strategy you use, though, make sure to keep an eye on the time so you don’t run out of time for analyzing and writing!

If you can just read straight through the passage without getting too hung up on details, go for it. This strategy works well for students who are naturally fast readers and don't have trouble getting distracted under time pressure.

If you’re a slow reader, get anxious about reading in timed situations, or find that the subject matter of the article is confusing, you might want to try skimming the article. You can use similar strategies to those you might use on SAT reading passages .

In either case, you'll want to make sure you get a good idea of the way the passage is laid out before you do a detailed pass through it. Why?

You'll probably end up reading through parts of the passage multiple times to make sure you fully understand it. Giving the passage a quick read-through before you do any detailed analysis can help cement which parts you'll want to come back to and which parts aren't as important.

When you go back do a more detailed reading of the article, sure to keep an eye out for argument-building techniques and to try to remain objective . You may want to circle or underline examples of these techniques as you read, which leads right into the next stage of SAT essay writing.

Stage 2: Analyze and Plan (7-12 minutes)

Many students resist planning on the SAT Essay because it already feels like there's not enough time to read and write, let alone take away some of that precious time for planning. But take it from us: you're better off with a plan. This is because the SAT essay graders look for a clear structure : introduction, conclusion, and specific evidence in between. It's almost impossible to create this kind of structure and still write quickly without a plan

You can write all over the passage as you analyze it – circle or underline key points , scribble in the margins, etc. This way, when you go back to quote the author in your essay, you’re not searching the text for the quote or supporting detail.

One way to mark up your passage is by numbering your examples and then circling and numbering any evidence from the passage you’ll be referring to in each paragraph. Another option is to write a brief description of the details from the passage in your planning and outlining, along with the location of the details. Taking this time during the analyzing and planning stage will end up saving you time in the long run.

I personally find it helpful to take notes as I read the passage and then organize them into an essay outline . Below are the TOTALLY LEGIBLE notes I took as I was analyzing the passage for the essay prompt:


As I was reading the passage, I scribbled down key details and the way I’d use them to support my thesis in the essay. For instance, I wrote, “ last paragraph – We need…we need (x4) -> overall use of “we” drawing reader into his POV ” in my notes. This describes what I want to talk about (the author's use of the word "We" and "We need"), what it means (it draws the reader into agreeing with his point of view), and where this is illustrated in the passage (last full paragraph).

I then organized these notes into some semblance of an outline I could use to plan the organization of my essay.


Here's a (rough) transcription of my outline:

Intro Facts/evidence -first paragraph stats and facts - to show issue is real, lend credibility -by not explaining has a couple of effects ->forces reader to draw own conclusions/think about which draws them into the argument ->alt makes reader look to author in rest o/article (b/c had facts at first + so can be trusted) Reasoning -acknowledges counterargument -so very easily could’ve gone on a rant abt twitter which would’ve undercut argument, disconnected from reader -instead, provides examples of when social media has been helpful (Arab Spring) -counterargument is more powerful as a result - take his “unease” more seriously Diction/style -“We” draws reader in, makes author sympathetic (not lecturing) -contrasts b/t ideal + real, b/t prof + amateur engage reader in the comparison, force to admit author is right -language elsewhere reinforces the idea that prof journalism under siege, words like “assailing” and “eroding” Conclusion

You can see that in the section labeled “Diction,” the first point is "We" draws reader in, makes author sympathetic (not lecturing)" .

You can combine these two steps if you’re comfortable enough doing it; I just find that separating them takes the pressure off to make sure that I take notes in an organized fashion.

Stage 3: Write Until 2-3 Minutes Are Left (25-35 minutes)

Once you have your analysis and planning done, it’s time to write like the wind. If you’ve taken notes and planned effectively, you should be able to jump right in and not have to go back and forth too much between the text and your essay.

Body Paragraphs

For most people, writing body paragraphs is easier than writing introductions. If this is the case, start with the body paragraphs, and just leave 10 lines or so at the top of the page to add the introduction later. One example should take up 1-2 paragraphs.

Let's use a methodical structure to try out a body paragraph about how the author uses a counterargument to add support to his own claim. The sample paragraphs below are all taken from an essay that I handwrote (and planned) in the 50-minute time limit.

Sample Body Paragraph

Start with a transition:

In addition to employing facts to his argument’s advantage, Goodman also cunningly discusses the counterargument to his position.

Then (briefly) introduce your topic:

By writing about how social media and man-on-the-ground reporting has assisted the state of foreign news reporting, Goodman heads off naysayers at the pass.

Explain the example’s context and relationship to your thesis:

It would have been very easy for Goodman to ignore the whole issue of citizen reporting, but the resultant one-sided argument would have been much less convincing. Instead, Goodman acknowledges things like “the force of social media during the Arab Spring, as activists convened and reacted to changing circumstances.” As a result, when he partially refutes this counterargument, stating the “unease” many longtime profession correspondents feel over the trend of ‘citizen journalism’ feel, the reader agrees.

Clearly state, in one sentence, how it is proof of your thesis:

Knowing that Goodman takes the power of social media seriously will make the reader more inclined, in turn, to take Goodman’s concern about the limits of social media seriously.

When you put all these pieces together, it’s a winning body paragraph. We start with a smooth transition from the introduction (or previous body paragraph), give enough background to understand why the example is relevant, and then connect it back to the thesis for the knockout punch.

Try to read through this again so the structure really makes sense to you.

Notice how this is formulaic – every one of your body paragraphs can be written in this structure , and you’ll get an excellent score! Having a structure like this will make many students less anxious about the new SAT essay.

You’d then go through the above process with the other 1-2 examples. In some cases, one very good example of the way the author builds his/her argument can be enough, if you can write 2-3 relevant paragraphs about it without repeating yourself. But having two examples is usually safer, because it gives you a better chance to show how well you've understood the passage.

Introduction and Conclusion

After finishing your body paragraphs, don't forget your introduction and conclusion paragraphs . Both should briefly mention the author’s argument and the examples you're using to support your thesis, but everything else is up to you. Some students write about the concept in general, and others just try to restate the thesis in different ways. Even a couple of sentences is better than nothing—try to scribble something in even if you're running out of time.

Sample Introduction Paragraph

In the article “Foreign News at a Crisis Point,” Peter S. Goodman eloquently argues the point that news organizations should increase the amount of professional foreign news coverage provided to people in the United States. Goodman builds his argument by using facts and evidence, addressing the counterarguments, and couching it all in persuasive and compelling language.

Stage 4: Revise (2-3 Minutes)

Much like planning on the SAT essay, revision seems unnecessary to most students. But trust us, it will help your score. There are two reasons for this:

  • Revising helps you change up your vocabulary and fix mistakes and/or illegible words
  • If you know you’ll revise, you can write much faster because you don’t have to worry about making it perfect

On the SAT essay, you can cross out words that you don’t want the grader to read. You don’t need to waste time erasing them, unless you want to replace them with something else.

So what do you do when you revise? Well, let’s take the body paragraph we wrote earlier and revise it. New text is bolded .

In addition to employing facts to his argument’s advantage, Goodman also cunningly discusses the counterargument to his position. By writing about how social media and man-on-the-ground reporting has assisted had some positive impact on the state of foreign news reporting, Goodman heads off naysayers at the pass. It would have been very easy for Goodman to ignore elide over the whole issue of citizen reporting, but the resultant one-sided argument would have been much less convincing. Instead, Goodman acknowledges things like “the force of social media during the Arab Spring, as activists convened and reacted to changing circumstances.” As a result, when he partially refutes this counterargument, stating his the “unease” many for longtime profession correspondents feel over the trend of ‘citizen journalism’ feel, the reader agrees. is much more likely to believe him. After all, Goodman acknowledges that social media does have some power. Knowing that Goodman takes the power of social media seriously will make the reader more inclined, in turn, to take Goodman’s concern about the limits of social media seriously.

At this point, you’ll have a complete winning essay.

Want to see what this essay looks like put all together? Read our article on how to get a perfect 8 on the SAT essay .

Our goal here was to show you how formulaic the SAT essay can be. By making the essay more predictable, you’ll go into every test with a game plan in mind , making the essay much easier (and less scary!).


"Guys guys guys! I figured out a plan for the SAT essay!"

Where to Go From Here

Now you know how to write an SAT essay. To put this information to good use, you need to practice with real SAT essay prompts . We’ve written the most comprehensive guide to SAT essay topics and prompts here .

Aiming for a perfect SAT essay score? Read our guides to get strategies on how to get an 8/8/8 on your SAT essay .

And if you haven’t read our 15 SAT essay tips article yet, do so now!

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Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.

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SAT Essay Topics

Our essay topics have been closely modeled on those in the SAT. You can also do the essays given in the first section of each of the tests in the Official Study Guide .

Each of the topics consists of a prompt and an assignment.

Prompt: "That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value." Thomas Paine

Assignment: Do we value only what we struggle for? 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.)

Prompt: If we are afraid to reveal our lack of knowledge we will not be able to learn. In order to make progress we must admit where we are now. Such an admission of ignorance is not easy. As Thoreau says, �How can we remember our ignorance which our growth requires, when we are using our knowledge all the time?�

Assignment: Does the present system of education encourage us to admit our lack of knowledge, or is there too much pressure to demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

Prompt: �A little inaccuracy saves a world of explanation.� C.E.Ayers

Assignment: Is it always essential to tell the truth, or are there circumstances in which it is better to lie? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

Prompt: Many societies believe that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human right. But it is also true that attainment of happiness remains elusive. Perhaps Bertrand Russell had it right when he said, �To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.�

Assignment: What gives us more pleasure and satisfaction: the pursuit of our desires or the attainment of them? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

Prompt: �The price of greatness is responsibility.� Winston Churchill

Assignment: Do we expect too much from our public figures? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

Prompt: �A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.� Alexander Pope

Assignment: Do we learn more from finding out that we have made mistakes or from our successful actions? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

Prompt: �What man calls civilization always results in deserts. Man is never on the square � he uses up the fat and greenery of the earth. Each generation wastes a little more of the future with greed and lust for riches.� Don Marquis

Assignment: With our modern awareness of ecology are we likely to make sufficient progress in conservation, or are we still in danger of damaging the earth beyond repair? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

Prompt: A man who waits to believe in action before acting is anything you like, but he is not a man of action. It is as if a tennis player before returning the ball stopped to think about his views of the physical and mental advantages of tennis. You must act as you breathe. Georges Clemenceau

Assignment: Is it true that acting quickly and instinctively is the best response to a crisis? Or are there times when an urgent situation requires a more careful consideration and a slower response? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

Prompt: There is usually a kernel of truth in the words Oscar Wilde puts in the mouth of his most outrageous characters � they wouldn�t be funny otherwise. One such gem that is worth pondering is: The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.

Assignment: Is it true that when we most need advice we are least willing to listen to it? Or is good advice always welcome? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

Prompt: �Independence? That�s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.� Bernard Shaw expected to provoke controversy with these words, but I would agree with him that these days there is too much emphasis on independence. While it is certainly true that excessive dependence on others is not a sign of maturity, total independence of others is neither attainable nor desirable: we need to be mature, and unselfish enough to recognize our interdependence .

Assignment: Do we put too much emphasis on self-reliance and independence, and are we afraid of admitting that we need other people in our lives? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

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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The Optional SAT Essay: What to Know

Tackling this section of the SAT requires preparation and can boost some students' college applications.

Elementary school student series.

Even though an increasing number of colleges are dropping standardized test requirements, students who must write the SAT essay can still stand to gain from doing so. (Getty Images)

Although the essay portion of the SAT became optional in 2016, many students still chose to write it to demonstrate strong or improved writing skills to prospective colleges.

In June 2021, the College Board opted to discontinue the SAT essay. Now, only students in a few states and school districts still have access to — and must complete — the SAT essay. This requirement applies to some students in the SAT School Day program, for instance, among other groups.

Whether or not to write the SAT essay is not the biggest decision you will have to make in high school, but it is certainly one that requires thought on your part. Here are three things you should know about the 50-minute SAT essay as you decide whether to complete it:

  • To excel on the SAT essay, you must be a trained reader.
  • The SAT essay begs background knowledge of rhetoric and persuasive writing.
  • A growing number of colleges are dropping standardized test requirements.

To Excel on the SAT Essay, You Must Be a Trained Reader

The SAT essay prompt never comes unaccompanied. On the contrary, it follows a text that is about 700 words long or approximately one page. Before test-takers can even plan their response, they must carefully read and – ideally – annotate the passage.

The multifaceted nature of the SAT essay prompt can be distressing to students who struggle with reading comprehension. But the good news is that this prompt is highly predictable: It always asks students to explain how the author builds his or her argument. In this case, "how” means which rhetorical devices are used, such as deductive reasoning, metaphors, etc.

Luckily, the author’s argument is usually spelled out in the prompt itself. For instance, consider this past SAT prompt : “Write an essay in which you explain how Paul Bogard builds an argument to persuade his audience that natural darkness should be preserved.”

Due to the essay prompt’s straightforward nature, students should read the passage with an eye toward specific devices used by the author rather than poring over “big ideas.” In tour SAT essay, aim to analyze at least two devices, with three being even better.

The SAT Essay Begs Background Knowledge of Rhetoric and Persuasive Writing

Since your SAT essay response must point to specific rhetorical devices that the author employs to convince the reader, you should make it a point to intimately know 10-15 common ones. The more familiar you are with rhetorical devices, the faster you will become at picking them out as you read texts.

Once you have read the passage and identified a handful of noteworthy rhetorical devices, you should apply many of the same essay-writing techniques you already use in your high school English classes.

For instance, you should start by brainstorming to see which devices you have the most to say about. After that, develop a concise thesis statement, incorporate quotes from the text, avoid wordiness and other infelicities of writing, close with an intriguing conclusion, and do everything else you could imagine your English teacher advising you to do.

Remember to always provide evidence from the text to support your claims. Finally, leave a few minutes at the end to review your essay for mistakes.

A Growing Number of Colleges Are Dropping Standardized Test Requirements

In recent years, some of America’s most prominent colleges and universities – including Ivy League institutions like Harvard University in Massachusetts, Princeton University in New Jersey and Yale University in Connecticut – have made submission of ACT and SAT scores optional.

While this trend began as early as 2018, the upheaval caused by COVID-19 has prompted many other schools to adopt a more lenient testing policy, as well.

Advocates for educational fairness have long expressed concerns that standardized admissions tests put underprivileged students at a disadvantage. In light of the coronavirus pandemic , which restricted exam access for almost all high school students, colleges have gotten on board with this idea by placing more emphasis on other factors in a student’s application.

To assess writing ability in alternative ways, colleges now place more emphasis on students’ grades in language-oriented subjects, as well as college application documents like the personal statement .

The fact that more colleges are lifting their ACT/SAT requirement does not imply that either test or any component of it is now obsolete. Students who must write the SAT essay can still stand to gain from doing so, especially those who wish to major in a writing-intensive field. The essay can also demonstrate a progression or upward trajectory in writing skills.

The SAT essay can give a boost to the college applications of the few students to whom it is still available. If the requirement applies to you, be sure to learn more about the SAT essay and practice it often as you prepare for your upcoming SAT.

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Stressed about getting into college? College Admissions Playbook, authored by Varsity Tutors , offers prospective college students advice on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, SAT and ACT exams and the college application process. Varsity Tutors, an advertiser with U.S. News & World Report, is a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement. The company's end-to-end offerings also include mobile learning apps, online learning environments and other tutoring and test prep-focused technologies. Got a question? Email [email protected] .

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How to Write an SAT Essay

sat writing test essay

A winning SAT essay requires a range of specific skills for the top result. In this article from the cheap essay writing service EssayPro, we will discuss how to write SAT essay and get that SAT essay score for college admission. This includes the definition, preparation steps, time-management, SAT essay outline, tips, and examples.

What Is an SAT Essay?

So what is the SAT essay writing task in general terms? SAT writing is very much similar to your regular college paper. In fact, it’s not what you’re asked to write about. It’s how you’re graded on it that makes it stand out from the rest of the academic writing tasks you are surely familiar with.

Many people question: what schools require this type of assignment? The colleges that require the SAT essay are institutions like Stanford, Stanford, Yale, and many more. Considering most colleges with high reputations require this entrance exam, it is essential to learn how to write a great SAT essay if you want to enter college.

Before You Start Writing an SAT Essay...

While studying for the entrance exam, consider the question: ‘how long it takes to write an SAT essay?’. Time management is an essential part of the test and something to consider while writing the examination. Usually, writing time is made up of four examination stages:

sat stages

There are different variations of these stages. Some people are faster with reading than they are creating an outline, and some are very quick writers. But regardless of how long it takes, the general approach to essay writing is the same.

Throughout the first stage, you familiarize yourself with the tasks you're going to deal with. 5 minutes is more than enough. But don’t rush through it. Missing some key details during this first stage can lead to failing the entire task before you even get to writing.

After you’ve got all the info you need - you can start planning. A plan of action will help you stay on track throughout the writing process. You can even draw up a schematic to reference as you go.

Writing will take up the majority of your time. Consult your outline and start filling it out step by step. Do not get bogged down. If you can’t get through some section of your outline - move on to the next one and return later.

Proofreading is one of the most important parts of essay writing. You should always try your best to leave as much time as possible for post-editing. The task is finished; now you have to relax and look through your text a couple more times to weed out any mistakes.

Whichever way your mind thinks, SAT essay practice is always the right way to go, so you’re able to find the most reliable timing combination that works for you within the set duration of the exam.

It is important to consider that the writing segment takes up a large portion of the 50 minutes. The reading and creating outline segments play a vital role in the completion of the SAT essay.

Our argumentative essay writers are ready to help you any time. Order essay or leave us a message ' Do my math homework '.

Things Your SAT Essay Needs

Now, let’s talk about how to write SAT essay tasks in a little more detail. To write a winning SAT essay outline , it is important to know what to include in it. Any paper regarding this examination should include these elements:

sat elements


Feeling Overwhelmed Writing an Essay on Your Own?

We only need your paper requirements to create a plagiarism-free paper prompt.


This outline should give you a pretty good idea of how to SAT when it comes to essay writing tasks.

SAT Essay Outline

In recent years, a new SAT essay format has been created. Take a look at how applicants tackle this assignment in 2022.


sat writing test essay

Tips on How to Write an SAT Essay

For a high SAT essay score, consider these SAT essay tips below to get a good feel of how to create a great exam paper. They’ll give you a solid understanding of how to SAT in order to get a decent score.

How to Get a Good Score on SAT

What Is an Average SAT Essay Score?

An average SAT essay score is 5\4\5 (for reading\analysis\writing). But you don’t really want to aim for an average SAT essay score. You need to land above that if you want your application to benefit from it.

You have to consider several factors if you want to get a good SAT essay score. Here they are:

You have to demonstrate your proficiency in all three in order to get a perfect score. First, you have to show that you have a thorough understanding of the subject matter of your essay. There is no place for even the slightest missteps. You want to show that you have knowledge of the facts and can interpret them well.

Analysis has to do with the personal conclusions you draw in your essay. You have to show that your writing is not just a stream of consciousness. Your thesis should be well-thought-out and supported by relevant and strong evidence.

Finally, the writing aspect is about presentation. Here you need to show that you have a strong command of language. It’s not only about grammar. Even the particular choice of words matters. How well you form your thoughts will determine your writing score. You should also watch your writing style. For a serious academic paper like this one, it should always be formal. No matter the subject.

So what is a good SAT essay score? It’s the result of your careful consideration of source material, your argument, and your form.

Is SAT Now Optional?

SAT is indeed optional. Very few colleges still practice this approach to applicant screening. But you can still take this test if you’d like to showcase your formidable writing skills. Will it help you when applying to top universities? For example, does Harvard require SAT essay submissions? Ivy League institutions like Harvard have also opted to take SAT test score submission during the application process optional. If you want to get an edge in a competitive environment like this, you have to research modern methods of applicant assessment. Like writing a personal statement.

Should I Take SAT?

Well, that depends on your goals. For example, if you are going for a major that has to do with analytical writing - an SAT test with an essay is a great way to show your skills and talent. But you shouldn’t obsess over it if you’re not entirely sure you’d be able to get a good score. There are alternative ways to show your writing off.

SAT Essay Examples

Check out these SAT essay examples to get a further grasp of how to write an outstanding paper. Feel free to use them as a reference.

Paul Bogard’s “Let There Be Dark” illustrates a large variety of rhetorical writing methods to create a key message. The message being: before the almost infinite list of benefits of the night’s natural darkness is completely lost, people should make more effort to decrease light pollution.
Dr. John’s “The Classics” argues that the enthusiasm of modern children of English literature in the classroom is at the lowest it could possibly be. He argues that there can be some extreme consequences for the survival of classic texts. The claim, itself, mentions classroom surveys that have taken place in high schools across the country.

Don’t Know How to Start?

Have you read the whole article and found yourself in a situation where you type " write my essay online "? Start from structuring your ideas. Writing an outline and a pinch of professional writing help can put you onto the right path to writing your SAT essay paper.

You can also look for SAT essay prompts if you want to practice a bit before the actual exam.

SAT Topics: Best Ideas

The best ideas for an SAT practice essay come in the form of prompts. You are unlikely to find the same exact prompt you have been practicing with on your SAT exam. But it will give you enough experience to feel confident in your writing abilities.

The SAT test is slowly going out of fashion. The pandemic has only reinforced this trend. Despite that, it still remains a pretty comprehensive way to gauge one’s abilities. So, while it’s not mandatory to take the SAT test anymore, you can certainly take it anyway if you think it will help you showcase the skills relevant to your education.

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