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Writing an Exam Essay

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Writing your SAT essay doesn’t have to be difficult or exhausting.  Use the following formula to help you write the best essay possible.

The Exam Structure

 

The first thing you need to do is to think of your essay as three parts:

  • the opening
  • the body 
  • the closing

Your opening should consist of one paragraph of about three to five sentences. It should clearly state your view on the topic and how you are going to support this view. Due to time limits, it is best to use only three points to defend your position. If possible try to catch the reader’s attention with a quote or controversial statement that compels them to read more. However, avoid clichés.

 

The body is your content and should support the three points made in your opening. Each point should be explained in a separate paragraph and flow logically between ideas.  Be direct and to the point. Don’t get wordy or you will get stuck in these paragraphs and the body is not the most important part of your essay. Support your ideas and move on to the closing.

 

The closing is where you bring your message together. Review your position and the points that support your view, then call your readers to some type of action by asking them to make a decision, buy something or support an organization. The closing is the most important part of your essay. It requires your best effort. If you spend too much time on your points and don’t have a well thought out closing it will cost you. It is better to have a weak body and a powerful closing than a weak closing or no closing at all.

 


How to Begin Your Essay

 

You begin your essay by carefully reading the assigned topic. Then develop an outline that you will use as a guide while writing your actual essay. The first part of your outline should be a sentence that states your position on the topic. Next, you should list the points that will support your position and determine your body paragraphs. Finally, you should write a sentence that states your closing.

 

Taking the time to prepare an outline will keep you focused on the task at hand and allow you to make the most of your time.

 

 

The outline

  • state your position
  • first point
  • second point
  • third point
  • conclusion


Writing the Essay

 

Now, armed with your outline, begin writing your essay. Start your opening paragraph with an attention grabbing statement that will draw the reader deeper into your essay. Then state your view and the points that support that view. Next write the body by supporting each of the  points in a separate paragraph. Remember, don’t get wordy just explain the points and move on to your closing.

 

You must have a closing! Do not get caught up in the body of the essay. You will not impress anyone without a closing. The closing is the most important part of the essay. Make sure you have time to write a well thought out closing that brings all your points together and moves the reader to action.

 

If you follow this formula for writing your SAT or ACT essay you will have plenty of time to write and complete a good essay. Whether it will be a great essay depends on your individual ability to write.

 

The number one thing you can do to improve your SAT scores is practice, practice, and practice some more.

 

NOTE: The above is useful for writing an essay on any type of exam not just the SAT.

 

 

10 Points to Ponder

1. Decide your position and determine your supporting points.
2. Organize your thoughts with an outline.
3. Be direct and to the point.
4. Provide examples and clear explanations.
5. Avoid generalizations.
6. Use transitional phrases for a logical flow.
7. Use variety in sentence structure.
8. Maintain a consistent tone throughout the essay.
9. Avoid being wordy.
10. PRACTICE, PRACTICE


 

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