Unlike the ACT, the SAT Essay is mandatory for test completion. It is worth approximately 30% of your Writing score. Your Writing score is 1/3 of your SAT total score.
Here are some guidelines I wrote as an SAT tutor and as an experienced teacher who has read hundreds of essays.
1. You have 25 minutes. Take between 5-8 minutes to plan your essay. Think of interesting examples that support your point of view, outline your paragraphs, then draft a thesis.
2. The essays will be read quickly- so make sure your introduction is strong. Try outlining your reasons first. When you read them, you may decide to alter your thesis to make everything fit better. Compose your introductory thesis last.
3. Don’t cause the reader to stop due to confusion- keep your thoughts logical and organized. Check your outline.
4. Two strong, well-developed examples are enough. Four paragraphs are enough. Introduction with clear point of view/Example 1-with explanation/Example 2 with explanation/ Conclusion
5. Minor spelling mistakes are not a big deal. Use big words only if you know how to use them. Write legibly.
6. Don’t use “for example”, “in this essay”, “I’m going to write about”, “you see”, or “in conclusion”. These phrases are all technically fine, but they are not sophisticated devices. As long as you are focused as you write, you will make sense.
Owning a pet can be therapeutic. Just petting a purring cat can calm the nerves. (no “for example” is necessary)
Best of luck to all the test-takers out there! Try not to let writing anxiety take over your test experience. The essay is first and it's worth about 10% of your score. The graders go through so many of them that they are not going to pore over every word you write. Remember- write a clear point of view, support it, and make sense.
The next two SATs will be on October 6th and November 3rd. The deadline to register for the November 3rd exam is October 4th. The deadline to register for the December 1st exam is November 1st.