How To Prepare for the SAT Writing Test

Preparing for the SAT can be one of the most nerve-wracking times in a college-bound high schooler's life. In March of 2005, a writing section was added to the test.   The writing section of the SAT lasts sixty minutes and includes choice questions and a short essay.  This section is worth 200 to 800 points. The essay tests your ability to organize and express ideas in a clear manner, use appropriate word choice and sentence structures, and develop and support your main idea. It will be graded by a panel of high school teachers and college professors on a scale from 1 to 6.  The multiple choice section tests your ability to identify common grammatical errors and if you can improve sentences and paragraphs. There are several ways to prepare yourself for this section of the test.

  1. Take a SAT prep course.  Many schools and tutoring centers offer SAT prep courses. For a small fee, you can work with a teacher who will help you prepare for all parts of the SAT, including the writing portion.  These courses can last anywhere from one session to an entire semester and there is usually a SAT prep book included in the cost.
  2. Buy a good SAT prep book. You don't have to take a course to study with a SAT prep book. You can find one at your local bookstore or online. There are a lot of SAT prep books out there so be sure to look through them before you buy. A good prep book will offer in-depth tutorials as to what the graders will be looking for during the writing section as well as practice questions for the multiple choice section and sample essay questions.  It would be a good idea to write out the answers to those essay questions and ask a qualified person such as your English teacher or parent, to look over the essay and give you advice on how to improve it. A good prep book will also give you essay examples that will show you what to do and what not to do when answering the essay question.
  3. Look online.  There are several SAT prep sites on the Internet. Like a prep book, these sites will give you general information about the test and sample questions and essays.  To find them, go to your favorite search engine and type in "SAT" or "SAT prep." A word of warning, however--almost anyone can make a website and the information might not always be up to date and accurate. This should not be your only method for preparing for the SAT writing test.
  4. Talk to your teachers.  Your teachers are there to help you prepare for anything school-related. If you have a question or concern about taking the SAT writing test, ask to talk to your English teacher before or after school to discuss those questions and concerns.
  5. Relax. If you stress out too much over the SAT writing test, you might just sabotage yourself.  Make sure that you get plenty of sleep the night before the test and eat a good breakfast the morning of the test.  Have your bag packed with all of the tools that you are allowed to take so that you are not rushing around trying to find everything before you leave to take the SAT.  Have confidence in yourself and that will reflect in your scores. Remember, it is just a test, and a test that can be retaken. Try your best. That is all any of us can do in any situation.


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