New SAT Paper for Practicing your Essay Writing Skills

New SAT Paper Thumb Print ImageThe new SAT has a completely new task given to students.

In it, students are asked to do rhetorical analysis of a piece (written or spoken), but a common question our students ask is “how long should it be?”

In the previous essay, students had 2 pages to fill in order to complete the writing task.  So, the maximum a student could write was that.  And Dr. Les Perelman, who previously served as Director of Writing Across the Curriculum and an Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education at MIT, found that:

“It appeared to me that regardless of what a student wrote, the longer the essay, the higher the score…”

His findings were based on: 

 “…23 graded essays on the College Board Web site meant as a guide for students and the 16 writing “anchor” samples the College Board used to train graders to properly mark essays”

Unfortunately, there aren’t enough samples currently out supporting what Perelman learned about the previous implementation of the exam.  However, in our recent findings, we found that one perfect scorer reached 3 pages on the new SAT and scored the perfect score of 8 (Reading), 8 (Writing) and 8 (Analysis).  Anecdotally, it supports Perelman’s somewhat more comprehensive analysis.

Frankly, why would a longer paper be credited with a higher score?

  • Typically, the essay is “more developed.”  It provides more support for the writer’s arguments.
  • It might show stronger effort by the student.  Most students who fail to write much have less experience writing and find the task difficult.
  • It may also indicate a more industrious student who is willing to work harder to obtain higher marks/output.

While these qualities might not necessarily be true for all longer essays, we have seen many short essays by students and typically it was because:

  • The student failed to write at all before starting our courses
  • The student hates writing (this might be one in the same with the 1st bullet here)
  • The student doesn’t know how to articulate their thoughts in writing

How do we cure these three problems?

Well, we suggest first downloading the new SAT paper here: New SAT Essay Paper.  As you can see, it is 4 pages and NOT 2.  We would also recommend trying the 4 different essay prompts from the Official Guide here:

  1. 1 sat-practice-test-1-essay-Carter
  2. 2 sat-practice-test-2-essay-MLK
  3. 3 sat-practice-test-3-essay-Dockterman
  4. 4 sat-practice-test-4-essay-Bogard

The college board also offers up another prompt on their website here.