The essay portion of the SAT can seem overwhelming to some students. Having to read, analyze and respond to a 600-800 word prompt in 50 minutes can feel like a tough task. But if a student stays focused and remembers some basic steps, he or she can write the essay with ease.

First off, don’t be afraid to prewrite. Take notes in the margins as you read. Underline key parts of the prompt. As you go, consider what your thesis statement might be. Students need to remember that they are not just reading the prompt but analyzing it. The prompt isn’t asking simply for their opinion, so it is essential to avoid using “I” and “You” in the essay. What the prompt is asking you to do is to make an argument of some kind, usually whether you agree or disagree with the prompt. As you analyze the text, you should use key points from the prompt to enhance your argument.

Students shouldn’t get bogged down by the details, but they should try and incorporate outside knowledge and facts that are relevant to the prompt. The more clear and concise the argument, the more likely a grader will give you a higher score.

Ultimately, it comes down to writing a clear thesis statement and making a clear argument around that. By prewriting and forming your argument from the onset, students can focus on writing the essay without feeling stressed out.

By Coran Hendry, English Tutor