Using SAT essay examples for the exam preparation

The SAT exam is required when enrolling in American colleges and universities for the Bachelor’s program.

The exam is known in two formats:
  • The SAT General Test
  • The SAT Subject Tests

SAT is administered by the specialized educational non-governmental organization CollegeBoard in many countries of the world.

The SAT exam consists of two language sections, two mathematical sections and an additional essay writing section. You can get acquainted with SAT essay examples to better prepare for the test.

The alternative to SAT is the ACT exam.

SAT sections

SAT consists of five sections:
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Two sections on mathematics and essays


The reading section consists of 5 texts an average of 700–900 words and lasts 65 minutes. You need to answer 52 questions. As a rule, each test consists of 1 text for Literature, 2 texts for Social Studies, and Science. One of the texts will be paired, that is you will see two short passages that either agree with each other or contradict each other. At the end of this section, you will be given a 5 (or 10) minute break.


The section consists of 4 texts, each of which is accompanied by 11 questions and as a result, 35 minutes are allocated to the section for you. Questions, as a rule, ask you to replace words with synonyms, correct the grammatical construction in the text, or change the ending of the text.

Thus, both reading and writing test your knowledge on the basis of what you are given. Therefore, these two sections are called Evidence Based Reading & Writing. The number of correct answers on reading (out of 52) and on writing (out of 44) is transformed into the 40-point scale according to a special table (sometimes referred to as the curve). Sometimes even with one mistake of 52 or 44, you can still get the cherished 40 points. Points for reading and writing are added (total 80) and multiplied by 10 – total 800.

Mathematics (without calculator)

The section consists of 20 questions and lasts 25 minutes. 16 questions are the multiple choice and 4 are grid in questions. In the first, you choose the answer from 4 options, and in the second you write down the answer in 4 windows. As the name implies, you cannot use the calculator in this section. After this section you will again be given a break (this time the last one).

Mathematics (with a calculator)

The section consists of 38 questions (30 multiple choice plus 8 grid in) and lasts 55 minutes. In this section, you can use a calculator (either graphical or engineering).

Your points for two sections in mathematics are summarized (total 58) and according to the table are converted to a 40-point scale. Then your result is multiplied by 20 – in total 800. It is worth noting that the transformation table for each section is not constant and varies from test to test. It does not depend on the results of other students but is meant to deal with changing difficulties of different sittings of SAT tests.

The essay

In this section, you need to read an article from a certain newspaper and analyze how the author uses various techniques to persuade the reader. You do not need to express your opinion or attitude to the problem. The section lasts 50 minutes. The essay is evaluated by three criteria reading, analysis, and writing. The evaluation is made by two readers, each on a 4-point scale. Their estimates are summarized. In the end, as much as you can get is 8/8/8. The general consensus is that 6/6/6 and 8/8/8 are no different.

How to prepare for writing an essay for SAT

The essay is one of the most difficult and important aspects of any English language exam. As in all other exam essays, it is very important in the submission of the SAT to strictly follow the structure of the presentation of the material. To do this, you just need to carefully read the appropriate introductory part of the textbook of the Barron’s publishing house, devoted to the Writing section. There, all the requirements are described quite clearly.

Then, carefully study the SAT essay examples, usually presented at the end of the textbook. There may be difficulties with understanding the topic. At first in the task some philosophical phrase is given, which is written rather difficult for perception and understanding by language. You can find a way out by paying more attention to the more clearly formulated question given below.

If you read carefully the examples, you will see that in the essay examples printed in the textbook, there is always a civil position expressed in the frequent reference to freedoms, human rights, and democratic values. This must be taken into account when writing an essay.

In your work, you should give two examples from life, literature or a movie, confirming your thoughts. Note that many studies show a strong link between the length of the essay and its evaluation. As a rule, short works get a lower score than multi-page works.

Grammar and literacy of the writing are very important in assessing the work, but not decisive.

Advice on writing an SAT essay

Writing an SAT essay may be a familiar task for you if you have learned to write it in school. If not, do not worry. The format is simple, and with a little practice, you can learn how to write a good SAT essay.

The essay is not mandatory, but it is better to take it. Some schools require an essay, while others do not. Your essay score will appear in every results report that you will be sending to college, regardless of whether the college requires an essay or not. In any case, a well-written essay will be an additional plus to the test results, so this area should be taken into consideration when preparing for SAT.

  • SAT essay text style. When writing an SAT essay, you should adhere to the narrative style. It is also recommended to avoid personal pronouns.
  • Handwriting is a lost art. Writing an essay is exactly the case when the instrument of your skill is a pencil. Experts, who read tons of essays every day, can lower your score if they cannot understand your handwriting. Do yourself a favor and write competently and legibly.
  • Bullet points are your friends. Remember the basic structure of the essay? The testers love it. Your introduction should describe the text and rephrase the argument, as well as enter specific elements of the argument that you will reveal in the essay. Your conclusion must confirm the outcome of your argument.
  • Using SAT essay examples. In the argument, refer to specific examples in the essay. Use short, relevant quotes from the text to support your arguments.
  • Color your story. When describing how the author builds his argument, address emotions. Instead of using comparisons and metaphors, you can use the comparison of two things. If you know the official terms, do not hesitate to use them.

Why do you need SAT?

Now that you have an idea of what the test itself is, let’s talk about why you need it. Together with the GPA, SAT acts as an indicator of your readiness to study at the university.

When enrolling in the best universities, you need to overcome a certain mark. For the Ivy League and MIT/Stanford/Caltech, it probably is in the 1,500 area, so if you have an SAT below 1,500 points then most likely it can hurt your chances initially. At the same time, if you are between 1,500 to 1,600, your SAT is no longer looked at. If there are two identical applicants, but one has a higher SAT score, they will probably give preference to him.

There is also an opinion that between 1,550 and 1,600 there is no exact difference. At the same time, Harvard and many other top universities annually reject applicants with perfect SAT and perfect GPA. The important thing is that if you have more than 1,500 points – it is already good. But even if you collect 1,500, 1,550 or 1,600, this will not guarantee admission, and this is a universally recognized fact.

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