High school juniors are beginning to prepare for the spring SAT. Many who are otherwise good writers will struggle to break past a score of 8 on the timed essay portion of the exam.
Susan Feldman offers a review of most students’ approach to the SAT essay, firmly rooted in the way they have been taught to write in English class, and the reasons this often does not result in a high SAT essay score. Here’s an excerpt:
“In place of reasoning, the 5-paragraph essay model privileges examples. And it is precisely this privileging of examples above reasoning — and students’ inability to distinguish between the two — that accounts for why so many high-achieving students end up with scores of 7 or 8 on the SAT essay.”
Feldman does not claim that examples are unimportant–quite the contrary–but she points out the necessity of using two good examples and analytically relating them to your argument, rather than throwing in several undeveloped examples, or allowing one thoroughly presented example, no matter how good it is, to stand in for the argument itself.
Read her article for excerpts of a student essay, accompanied by analysis.