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SAT Essay

The SAT examination begins with a 25-minute writing task: The essay

You have no choice of topic: you have to write on the prompt given in a text box. For example you may see something like:

Time has a doomsday book, on whose pages he is continually recording illustrious names. But as often as a new name is written there, an old one disappears. Only a few stand in illuminated characters never to be effaced.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Underneath the prompt is the assignment � a statement that clarifies what you are supposed to do.

For example, after the issue given in the prompt above, you might see:

Assignment:
Are there some heroes who will be remembered forever? Or are all heroes doomed to be forgotten one day? Plan your response, and then write an essay to explain your views on this issue. Be sure to support your position with specific points and examples. (You may use personal examples or examples from your reading, observations, or, knowledge of subjects such as history, literature, science.)

The examiners tell us in the Official Guide to the SAT that there is �no formula for writing an effective essay�. This is not a helpful statement. In 25 minutes you do not have the luxury of experimenting with different essay formats. We suggest that you write a few practice essays in which you use one of the two essay formats we suggest. Find which one suits your style best and, as far as possible, stick to it.

Next steps

Choose an option below to learn about our essay formats. You will also find an essay evaluation grid, a list of SAT essay topics for you to practice on and two sample essays.

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