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As of March 2016, the SAT college entrance exam underwent a comprehensive redesign process. As part of the new version of the test, the essay section is now optional. However, the SAT essay focus has also changed and become even more challenging for students.

As our SAT tutors know firsthand, these changes have unfortunately made some older SAT prep resources minimally relevant beyond basic writing guidelines. However, the new SAT essay prompts are all identical in structure and objective, and the goal will always be to produce a well-structured, detailed analysis of a writing passage. Our SAT tutors have put together a few tips to help your student accomplish a strong SAT essay response, if they choose to attempt it.

#1: Develop a precise thesis statement

A strong and concise thesis statement is critical in earning a high SAT essay score. This is not only because the thesis statement is essentially the central idea of any piece of writing, but also is crucial for students to be able to organize their thoughts around an appropriate essay response.

The thesis statement should be part of the introduction paragraph, which should indicate to the reader what the student will be talking about in their response. The new SAT essay prompts will ask students a very simple question: How does the author build his or her argument? The thesis statement should answer this question in the fewest amount of words possible, while still leaving room for students to expand on later.

#2: Build your evidence into essay structure

The standard structure for an SAT essay flows from introduction to 2-3 body paragraphs and a conclusion. A thesis statement should set the tone for the essay response in the introduction, and the following paragraphs should support your thesis statement with evidence.

Simply providing examples are not enough—students must also analyze how the examples support the author’s overall message. Students should follow a pattern of quoting what the author says in the passage, what that means, and how it relates back to their thesis statement.

The facts in the prompt should be easy to recognize. However, considering the time constraint, students should focus on analyzing only a few of the most important facts that the author chooses to support his point. Finally, students should discuss why the author selected these themes and ideas, and how the passage would be different without them.

#3: Wrap up your writing with a strong conclusion

Students should set aside time to write a strong closing argument that effectively draws all themes of the response together. This should be more than just a simple summary, and should show how the student has proven their thesis statement. One strategy our SAT tutors use is to encourage students to think of their conclusion as the closing argument of a dramatic courtroom trial. A powerful last impression might make all the difference in tipping scores higher.

The credentialed tutors at REACH Pro Tutoring are always available to help your student develop the college test prep skills and confidence they’ll need to succeed. Contact us for more information today.

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