Whether you’re just getting started or you need a quick last-minute run-down, check out these grab-and-go guides to the most important elements of the SAT essay.
The SAT expects you to discuss the development of ideas through a passage. The easiest way to do this is to break the assigned passage into three pieces and talk about how each leads to the next. Write a five-paragraph essay and focus your three body paragraphs on the passage’s beginning, middle, and end.
Body paragraph structure
Give these points 1-2 sentences each. Let’s break them down:
Transition. Bring the goals of the last paragraph and the new one together in one sentence. “Having emphasized the value of what she will offer, the author goes on to present easy-to-memorize tips.”
Strategy. Identify a key strategy used in the section you’re discussing. A strategy isn’t the author’s main idea; it’s a way the author made that idea more persuasive or effective, like supplying statistical evidence or using emotional appeals. “The author presents her ideas as a series of quick bullet points.”
Quote. Include a good, meaty quote that lets the reader see the strategy in action.
Effect. Explain precisely how the strategy affects the reader. Zero in on effects specific to the passage you’re analyzing. “Bullet points make her ideas easier to grasp” is vague; it could be said about a lot of articles. “Bullet points make key SAT essay structures easy to memorize” is specific to this passage.
Goal. Build from the effect to describe the goal it achieves: “The bullet structure makes it more likely that her audience will remember and apply her advice.”