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1 "#$%&$'()&"*+,%-(-'.+&/(,$0,%-(-'.,$%1/)$2 "(34&'(,&5-'6%"&%-&/ +)&/&)6'4$3(/0&%&4&/-.'&4($6##$726'8()& "#$%&#'&()%&*+&,$-(-'.&+%/(0&5-'6%9

2 "#$%&'()*&+,-&',. The following guidelines come from the College Board ( The site also links to sample essays that received scores from 0 to 6. Each essay is independently scored by two readers on a scale from 1 to 6. These readers' scores are combined to produce the 2-12 scale. The essay readers are experienced and trained high school and college teachers. If the two readers' scores differ by more than one point (a rare situation), a third reader scores the essay. "#$%,$/0 An essay in this category demonstrates clear and consistent mastery, although it may have a few minor errors. A typical essay: Effectively and insightfully develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates outstanding critical thinking, using clearly appropriate examples, reasons and other evidence to support its position Is well organized and clearly focused, demonstrating clear coherence and smooth progression of ideas Exhibits skillful use of language, using a varied, accurate and apt vocabulary Demonstrates meaningful variety in sentence structure Is free of most errors in grammar, usage and mechanics "#$%,$/1 An essay in this category demonstrates reasonably consistent mastery, although it has occasional errors or lapses in quality. A typical essay: Effectively develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates strong critical thinking, generally using appropriate examples, reasons and other evidence to support its position Is well organized and focused, demonstrating coherence and progression of ideas Exhibits facility in the use of language, using appropriate vocabulary Demonstrates variety in sentence structure Is generally free of most errors in grammar, usage and mechanics "#$%,$/2 An essay in this category demonstrates adequate mastery, although it has lapses in quality. A typical essay: Develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates competent critical thinking, using adequate examples, reasons and other evidence to support its position Is generally organized and focused, demonstrating some coherence and progression of ideas Exhibits adequate but inconsistent facility in the use of language, using generally appropriate vocabulary Demonstrates some variety in sentence structure Has some errors in grammar, usage and mechanics "#$%&$'()&"*+,%-(-'.+&/(:26.&; 00090$00%-(-'.0$%1/)$29#$7

3 "#$%,$/3 An essay in this category demonstrates developing mastery, and is marked by ONE OR MORE of the following weaknesses: Develops a point of view on the issue, demonstrating some critical thinking, but may do so inconsistently or use inadequate examples, reasons or other evidence to support its position Is limited in its organization or focus, or may demonstrate some lapses in coherence or progression of ideas Displays developing facility in the use of language, but sometimes uses weak vocabulary or inappropriate word choice Lacks variety or demonstrates problems in sentence structure Contains an accumulation of errors in grammar, usage and mechanics "#$%,$/4 An essay in this category demonstrates little mastery, and is flawed by ONE OR MORE of the following weaknesses: Develops a point of view on the issue that is vague or seriously limited, and demonstrates weak critical thinking, providing inappropriate or insufficient examples, reasons or other evidence to support its position Is poorly organized and/or focused, or demonstrates serious problems with coherence or progression of ideas Displays very little facility in the use of language, using very limited vocabulary or incorrect word choice Demonstrates frequent problems in sentence structure Contains errors in grammar, usage and mechanics so serious that meaning is somewhat obscured "#$%,$/5 An essay in this category demonstrates very little or no mastery, and is severely flawed by ONE OR MORE of the following weaknesses: Develops no viable point of view on the issue, or provides little or no evidence to support its position Is disorganized or unfocused, resulting in a disjointed or incoherent essay Displays fundamental errors in vocabulary Demonstrates severe flaws in sentence structure Contains pervasive errors in grammar, usage or mechanics that persistently interfere with meaning "#$%,$/6 Essays not written on the essay assignment will receive a score of zero "#$%&$'()&"*+,%-(-'.+&/(:26.&D 00090$00%-(-'.0$%1/)$29#$7

4 7.,8$*%9&:,;&.,-< You have 25 minutes to respond to the prompt. We suggest that you divide your time (approximately) as follows. 3 minutes Evaluate Read the prompt. Restate the question to yourself. Make 2 columns: pro/con. List arguments on both sides. Don t choose a side yet. Readers will only look at your essay. They will not read your notes. 3 minutes Outline Decide which side you will argue. Write a clear thesis statement. Create a high-level outline for your essay. Write topic sentences and list examples. These are notes only. One of your points should be a counter-argument. The structure While many believe X, some say Y is perfectly acceptable. 16 minutes Write Be clear, concise and direct. Write legibly. Do not skip lines. 3 minutes Review Is your point clear? Have you made your argument? Have you stated and defended your counter-argument? Does your essay have a clear beginning, middle and end? Have you spelled everything correctly? How is your grammar? "#$%&$'()&"*+,%-(-'.+&/(:26.&E 00090$00%-(-'.0$%1/)$29#$7

5 Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below. Modern society values convenience. From disposable napkins to the personal computer, from fastfood restaurants to cell phones, it seems that nearly everything we buy or use has been designed to maximize convenience. Unfortunately, instead of saving time and energy and minimizing frustration, many of the so-called conveniences in our lives turn out to be nuisances or have a negative impact on our health, the environment, or our emotional well-being. Assignment: Does society place too much value on convenience? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations. Getting people to work well in teams is crucial to accomplishing ambitious goals. Teams work a kind of magic in developing important ideas and getting hard work done, and they give us the close human contact and shared purpose that we all need. But there s a dark side to teams too: group identity can be too powerful. The desire to be an accepted member of a group can prevent individuals from forming their own moral judgments. Adapted from Peter S. Temes, The Power of Purpose Assignment: Are teams or groups beneficial for individuals, or does group membership prevent individuals from forming their own moral judgments? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations. Being unwilling to change is often seen as a limitation. For example, a common accusation people often make in arguments is that the other person refuses to even consider taking new positions on issues. But being consistent is not always a bad thing. In fact, firmly supporting a position or point of view shows that one is stable and constant and does not change one's position whenever circumstances change. This consistency is far more important than a willingness to adjust one's thinking. Assignment: Is it more important to remain consistent than to change one's mind when circumstances change? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations. "#$%&$'()&"*+,%-(-'.+&/(:26.&? 00090$00%-(-'.0$%1/)$29#$7

6 Audience: Know your audience. You do not need to restate the prompt. Your audience has the prompt in front of them. Introduction: Open with something meaningful (e.g., a quote, anecdote or statement.) State your thesis as the last sentence of your introductory paragraph. Body: Lay out specific arguments, one at a time. Start a new paragraph for each new point. Evidence: Your points should be distinct. There should be a reason for every word on the page. Don t repeat yourself. Point of view: No need to say, I think, I believe, In my opinion, etc. Your reader knows that your essay is written from your point of view. This is not to say you can t include personal anecdotes. First person is acceptable; just don t waste time/space with unnecessary statements.. Grammar and Usage: This is not the place for grammatical experimentation. If you know how to use a semicolon, then go for it. If you re not sure, don t try it here. Conclusion: Restate your thesis. Summarize your main points. You can wrap up with something clever or insightful, but don t add new evidence. "#$%&$'()&"*+,%-(-'.+&/(:26.&F 00090$00%-(-'.0$%1/)$29#$7

7 Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below. Good news is, for the most part, no news. It is not sufficiently compelling or important to make leading stories and front pages in the media, certainly not as often as bad news. Bad news sells, or so it seems from the books, newspapers, and television reports that fill our lives. But in this endless focus on the bad, the media present a distorted view of the world. Adapted from Richard B. McKenzie, The Paradox of Progress: Can Americans Regain Their Confidence in a Prosperous Future? Assignment: Do books, newspapers, and other media focus too much on bad news? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations. "#$%&$'()&"*+,%-(-'.+&/(:26.&G 00090$00%-(-'.0$%1/)$29#$7

8 Tip 1: Understand the exam: The SAT writing test requires you to take a position and support it with examples in a clear, focused manner. This is not a creative writing exam; it is an opportunity to show that you can think and express yourself on paper. Tip 2: Keep up with current events: Read the newspaper, listen to news analysis and discuss pertinent issues with family and friends. Debate both sides, regardless of your position. Tip 3: Identify the thesis: Find the thesis in each article or analysis. Write it down. How would you defend that thesis? What is the counter-argument? How would you defend it? Tip 4: Use your resources: There is no shortage of books, websites and other resources with information about the SAT. The College Board website ( has great information about the writing test. Tip 5: Practice: Take sample prompts from Wow Writing Workshop, the Internet, a book or a friend, then practice dividing up the allotted time. Include time to review the prompt, outline your thoughts, write your response and review your writing. Alternatively, practice parsing multiple prompts; then write pros and cons of multiple prompts; write several thesis statements, etc. until you are used to completing each sub-task. Tip 6: Write clearly: Use a variety of sentence styles. Mix it up with simple, complex and compound sentences. Semicolons are great if you know how to use them correctly; improper use will cost you points. Write in first or third person, using words you can define and spell. If you are not sure how to use a word, don t test it here Tip 7: Consider the big picture: Extrapolate from the essay topic to broader societal issues. (e.g., An open school lunch policy allows students to go home for lunch; it also teaches high school students to take responsibility for their actions.) Tip 8: Practice, practice, practice: The more you practice, the more at ease you will feel. You can do this The task may seem challenging, but with a bit of preparation, you will be ready for any prompt at all. Would you like a professional to read and score your essay? Send it to us today "#$%&$'()&"*+,%-(-'.+&/(:26.&H 00090$00%-(-'.0$%1/)$29#$7

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