Do’s And Don’ts Of SAT Essay

Do’s And Don’ts Of SAT Essay

Do’s And Don’ts Of SAT Essay
Sailesh Sitaula

Welcome to the ultimate guide on the Do’s And Don’ts of the SAT Essay! The SAT Essay is an important component of the SAT exam; mastering it can significantly impact your overall score. This comprehensive article explores the best practices, strategies, and pitfalls to avoid, ensuring you're well-prepared to tackle the essay section confidently.

Do’s And Don’ts Of SAT Essay

1. Understanding the SAT Essay Prompt

  • Analyzing the Prompt: The first step is reading and comprehending the prompt carefully. Pay attention to keywords and the underlying question.
  • Identifying Key Instructions: Look for specific instructions like "analyse," "explain," or "evaluate," which will guide your essay's focus.
  • Developing a Clear Thesis Statement: Your thesis should concisely summarise your main argument and your essay's direction.
  • Brainstorming Relevant Ideas: Jot down relevant examples and evidence that support your thesis.
  • Outlining Your Essay: Create a well-structured outline to organise your thoughts and ensure a coherent essay.

2. Emphasizing Clarity and Coherence

    • Crafting Well-Structured Sentences: Use clear and concise sentences to convey your ideas effectively.
    • Using Transition Words and Phrases: Transitional phrases improve the flow between sentences and paragraphs.
    • Maintaining Logical Flow: Ensure your essay follows a logical sequence, allowing readers to follow your thought process.
    • Ensuring Paragraph Unity: Each paragraph should focus on a single idea, contributing to the overall argument.
    • Avoiding Repetition: Eliminate redundancy and keep your writing engaging.

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3. Showcasing Strong Evidence

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  • Using Relevant Examples: Provide specific and relevant examples that support your points.
  • Citing Data and Statistics: Incorporate data and statistics to add credibility to your arguments.
  • Incorporating Quotations: Quoting experts and authoritative sources strengthens your claims.
  • Referencing Personal Experiences: When applicable, draw from personal experiences to illustrate your points.
  • Cross-Referencing with Literature: Relate your essay to well-known literary works to showcase your knowledge.

4. Balancing Persuasion and Analysis

  • Making a Persuasive Argument: Persuasion is essential, but ensure it is well-balanced with analytical insights.
  • Providing Analytical Insights: Back up your claims with thorough analysis and logical reasoning.
  • Linking Evidence to the Thesis: Always tie your evidence back to your main thesis statement.
  • Evaluating Counterarguments: Acknowledge opposing viewpoints and address them thoughtfully.
  • Avoiding Extreme Opinions: Stay moderate in your assertions; avoid overly biased or extreme views.

5. Time Management Strategies

  • Setting Time Allocations: Allocate specific time for reading, planning, writing, and revising.
  • Sticking to the Essay Structure: Follow the traditional essay structure of introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • Allowing Time for Revision: Leave ample time for reviewing and refining your essay.
  • Prioritizing Quality over Quantity: Focus on delivering well-developed ideas instead of trying to fill space.
  • Practising Under Timed Conditions: Regularly practice writing essays within time constraints to improve speed.

6. Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation

  • Proofreading Techniques: Develop a systematic approach to proofreading your essay.
  • Common Grammar Mistakes to Avoid: Familiarize yourself with common grammatical errors to avoid them.
  • Mastering Punctuation Rules: Proper punctuation enhances the clarity of your writing.
  • Spellchecking Your Essay: Use reliable spell-check tools to catch spelling errors.
  • Seeking Peer Feedback: Have someone else review your essay for constructive criticism.

7. Vocabulary and Word Choice

  • Using Precise and Varied Vocabulary: Employ diverse words to elevate your language.
  • Avoiding Slang and Informal Language: Maintain a formal tone throughout your essay.
  • Understanding Contextual Word Usage: Use words in the appropriate context to convey your ideas accurately.
  • Incorporating Academic Terminology: Showcase your knowledge by using relevant academic terms.
  • Employing Synonyms and Antonyms: Enhance your writing by incorporating synonyms and antonyms.

8. Avoiding Personal Pronouns

  • Why Personal Pronouns Are Discouraged: The SAT Essay requires an objective, academic tone.
  • Using Third-Person Perspective: Write from a neutral perspective to maintain formality.
  • Focusing on the Topic: Keep the essay centred on the prompt rather than personal opinions.

9. Concision and Clarity

  • Trimming Excess Words: Be concise and get straight to the point.
  • Simplifying Complex Ideas: Break down complex concepts into easily understandable language.
  • Proofreading for Clarity: Ensure your ideas are conveyed without ambiguity.

10. Staying Within the Topic

  • Avoiding Tangents: Stick to the prompt's subject matter; don't go off on unrelated tangents.
  • Referring Back to the Prompt: Continually remind yourself of the essay's focus while writing.
  • Checking for Coherence: Ensure every paragraph contributes to the overall theme.

11. Honesty and Integrity

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  • Avoiding Fabrication: Never make up evidence or exaggerate claims.
  • Staying Truthful: Base your arguments on credible information and reliable sources.
  • Citing Sources Appropriately: Give proper credit to the authors and sources you reference.

12. Avoiding Overly Complicated Language

  • Simplicity is Key: Use clear, straightforward language to communicate your ideas effectively.
  • Steer Clear of Jargon: Avoid using technical or obscure language that may confuse readers.

13. Addressing Counterarguments

  • Acknowledging Counterarguments: Show that you understand differing viewpoints.
  • Providing Rebuttal: Articulate well-reasoned responses to opposing perspectives.

14. Balancing the Length of Paragraphs

  • Ensuring Paragraph Consistency: Keep paragraph lengths uniform for better readability.
  • Using Paragraph Breaks Wisely: Break paragraphs where logical shifts or new ideas occur.

15. Transitions and Linking Ideas

  • Using Appropriate Transition Words: Seamlessly connect ideas to improve the essay's flow.
  • Establishing Logical Connections: Ensure each paragraph links to the previous and the following one.

16. The Introduction Matters

  • Creating a Strong Hook: Begin your essay with an engaging hook to capture the reader's attention.
  • Stating the Thesis Clearly: Straightforwardly present your thesis in the introduction.

17. The Power of Conclusion

  • Restating the Thesis: Summarize your main argument in conclusion.
  • Offering a Final Thought: Leave readers with a lasting impression or a call to action.

18. Avoiding Personal Stories

  • Stay Objective: The SAT Essay is not the place for personal anecdotes.
  • Focusing on Analyzing: Concentrate on analysing evidence and making persuasive arguments.

19. Practicing Under Test Conditions

  • Simulate Test Environments: Practice writing essays under timed and exam-like conditions.
  • Build Endurance: Enhance your writing stamina by practising regularly.

20. Making a Study Plan

  • Allocate Sufficient Time: Create a study plan that allows ample time for essay preparation.
  • Set Achievable Goals: Break down your study plan into achievable milestones.

21. Being Mindful of Essay Length

  • Striking the Right Balance: Aim for a well-structured and comprehensive essay without excessive length.
  • Meeting the Minimum Requirement: Ensure your essay meets the required word count.

22. Proofreading Strategies

  • Editing for Errors: Meticulously check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors.
  • Reviewing for Coherency: Confirm that your essay flows smoothly and makes logical sense.

23. The Art of Revision

  • Give Yourself Time: Allow multiple rounds of revision to refine your essay.
  • Seek External Feedback: Consider seeking feedback from teachers, tutors, or peers.

24. Avoiding Clichés and Overused Phrases

  • Be Original: Use fresh and unique language to stand out from other essays.
  • Eliminate Common Phrases: Avoid clichés and expressions that lack originality.

25. Keeping the Reader Engaged

  • Maintaining Interest: Write in a captivating style that holds the reader's attention.
  • Convey Passion: Let your enthusiasm for the topic shine through in your writing.


Can I skip the SAT Essay?

It depends on the colleges you're applying to. Check their admission requirements to see if the essay is mandatory.

Is the SAT Essay scored separately?

Yes, the SAT Essay is scored separately from the main SAT. It does not affect your overall SAT score.

How much time do I have for the SAT Essay?

You'll have 50 minutes to complete the SAT Essay.

Can I bring a calculator for the SAT Essay?

No, calculators are not allowed during the SAT Essay section.

Can I use personal experiences in the SAT Essay?

Yes, but only if they directly relate to the prompt and support your argument.

Should I take the SAT with Essay or without?

Consider the requirements of your desired colleges. Some institutions may require or recommend the Essay.


Mastering the Do’s And Don’ts of the SAT Essay is crucial for achieving success on this important exam. By understanding the essay prompt, emphasising clarity and coherence, showcasing strong evidence, and employing effective time management strategies, you'll be well-prepared to tackle the SAT Essay confidently. 

Remember to stay focused, avoid common pitfalls, and practice regularly under timed conditions. By following this comprehensive guide, you'll be one step closer to achieving your desired SAT Essay score and advancing toward your academic goals.

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