HOW DAUNTING IS THIS WRITING TEST?
The Writing Section of the SAT consists of three parts: A twenty five minute essay, A 25 minute multiple choice section and a ten minute multiple choice section. The multiple choice questions test grammar, usage, and word choice. The score range with the essay factored in, is 200 -800.
The short essay question always appears in section one of the SAT.
The short essay measures ones ability to:
1) Organize and express ideas clearly, develop and support the main idea with examples
2) Use appropriate word choice and sentence structure
Students will be asked to develop and support their point of a view on an issue, using reasoning and evidence — based on their experiences, readings, or observations.
The essay will be scanned and sent via the Internet to two different, trained high school and/or college teachers to be scored. Each reader will give the essay a score of 1 to 6 (6 is the highest score) based on the overall quality of the essay and the student’s demonstration of writing competence. Finally, the two scores will be added together to comprise a final score.
Often, young gifted scholars feel reluctant and anxious about this new part of the SAT. This is partly because many young gifted children have not had specific, structured writing lessons. Furthermore, many young scholars taking the SAT are only in fifth to seventh grades. They are expected to be accelerated in writing just because they have high I. Q .s. The erroneous logic here is apparent. Many of these children refuse to write long essays and end up in tears when forced to write. Perfectionism often stymies them.
Here are some general tips to give your children to alleviate anxiety and to help them learn to write with more ease:
A) Getting Ready to Write
B) Getting Ready for the Actual SAT
Must Know Tips for the Writing Sections
1. Read the question carefully and underline the key words in the question.
2. Spend two to three minutes brainstorming before you organize your essay.
3. Remember to write two full pages for the practice essays and the actual essay; shorter essays usually receive lower scores.
4. Write in pencil, essays written in pen receive a zero.
5. Write in the third person. First-person essays usually receive lower scores. Stay away from I am, I think I believe....
6. Try to "show." Don’t "tell." A good essay never tells the reader things directly; instead, it "shows" the reader through concrete, vivid experiences and examples.
7. Try to write four well-developed paragraphs. Five may be too many to develop well. Include an introduction and a conclusion!
8. Historical, current-events and literary examples are preferable to personal examples.
9. Before the exam prepare colorful index cards with possible topics you can write about. Examples: famous people, infamous people, wars, movements, etc..
10. Immerse yourself in word study. This can help you with the essay, sentence completions and reading comprehension. Use vivid words in your essay. (However, don't overdo it.) Can you define perspicacity, sinecure, tendentious, anachronism and gaffe?
11. Learn parts of speech and grammar rules, and put them on 5x7 index cards. Include examples.
12. Read as much as you can. Also read the newspaper everyday. Try the editorial pages for "pedantic" SAT vocabulary.
13. Learn idioms. There are many of them on the exam. Examples: Write frightened by, not frightened of....write preoccupation with, not preoccupation in....write opposite of, not opposite to.....
14. Learn what a persuasive essay is. Try writing some persuasive essays for your parents to convince them to get you what you want.
15. Write at least one or two essays a week for practice "getting your speed up." Do this for several months before the test.
16. Buy a good grammar book. I recommend The Bedford Handbook by Diana Hacker. Read it.
17. Don't forget to include transition words and topic sentences. Sample transition words(again): similarly, furthermore, clearly, finally.....
18. Stay up to date on current events. Watch the news the morning of the exam. You never know what the question might be....
19. Remember to bring a healthy snack and a drink with you to the exam and enjoy yourself!
Hopefully some of these tips will help reluctant writers and ease the anxieties of all test takers.....who must know grammar....and who must know how to write a coherent essay.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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