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Although the essay section in SAT is optional but bare in mind that most, if not all, reputable universities require SAT essay scores to further judge your comprehension skills. The essay is the last section of the SAT exam, marked out of 12 points but since it is checked by two examiners, the total achievable score comes to be 24. The essential breakdown of the score grants equal distribution to all three components of criteria: Reading: 2-8 marks (how well your essay shows that you have understood the source text), Writing: 2-8 marks (how effectively you use language, how skillfully did you craft your response? Is your essay’s structure clear? Does your essay have a clear thesis or claim? Are the sentences varied? Is your choice of words precise? etc), and Analysis: 2-8 marks (how well did you analyze the passage and carried out the task of explaining how the author builds the argument to persuade the reader using evidence, reasoning and other persuasive elements).

When students at Tutoria apply for universities, they are always encouraged to prepare for the essay section pre-hand along with the other three sections as a respectable score in essay gives the final boost to your resume.

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Structure: The most important part of your essay is the structure which should contain the Introduction, Main Body, and the Conclusion.

To begin with, the introduction should entail your thesis statement which is the crux of your essay. While coming up with your thesis statement, keep in mind it should be derived solely from ideas and facts from the passage and be easily justifiable. Along with your thesis, you should also state whether you think the argument presented by the author is effective, strong, flawed or lacks reasoning, etc. Avoid giving your own opinion by agreeing or disagreeing with the author; you will be strictly penalized if you share your own opinion rather than analyzing the text. After giving the thesis statement, STATE your agenda in simple words. I have come up with certain examples that you can write in the introduction which fit in almost all the passages:

  • Organization/Structure
  • Language
  • Examples/Facts
  • Reasoning
  • Stats
  • Personal Anecdotes
  • Emotions
  • Logos, Pathos, Ethos
  • Acknowledging the other side/challenging assumptions
  • Rhetorical Questions
  • Any other strategy the author uses in the passage

Moving on to the body of the essay, where you have to do your best to elaborate on your agenda. Start explaining your above-mentioned agenda from the most relevant point to the least: analyzing the passage and making use of quotations wherever they make your point stronger. You must use quotations to back-up your claims and reasoning. This shows not only that you’ve read the passage, but also that you understand what the author is saying and the way the author constructed the argument.

I have come up with the following list of words and phrases to help you quote effectively:
The author…..

discusses frequently uses brings up cites writes
expresses establishes the fact that indicates that argues that makes the conclusion that
represents this issue as mentions notes that calls upon voices his concern that
tells the reader that shows that continues goes on to state that characterizes
warns connects this and that to points out quotes acknowledges
contends states maintains emphasizes highlights
makes reference to asserts that sets the stage for his argument

Moving on, there will be a lot of explaining involved in your essay as well. My favorite expressions to use when explaining are:

The implication is that The suggestion is that …serves to… The inclusion of …helps to…
…..elicits…. grounds her/his argument in reality so that even skeptical readers won’t be able to dismiss it ….marks the extent of the problem By appealing to our sense of…., the author…..
The author exploits the fact that…. Given that… By showing that there is…., the author… …compels the reader to…

How to tackle the SAT Reading Section!

Your essay should contain your thesis statement at least 3-4 times to make it easier for the reader to grasp your main idea. The Collegeboard recently stated that the length of the essay does matter so, to be on the safe side, write 2 sides of A4 paper to the minimum without compromising on the analytical strength of the essay. The biggest mistake, I believe, students do is that they end up writing summaries of the passage instead of analyzing it. Please avoid committing this crime. The main focus of the essay is on analysis and how you dissect the author’s argument.

After the body paragraphs, you will have a conclusion where you will sum up everything. As it is an analytical essay, you must write on both the positive and the negative aspects of the argument and then conclude your argument in a coherent thesis statement.


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