SAT Essay Format and Structure

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How to format your SAT essay

Essentially, you should stick with the basics of a solid essay and not get fancy.

It’s particularly important to have a good structural plan because the evidence shows that longer SAT essays tend to score better, so you don’t want to waste any time re-inventing basic essay format.

This strategy is intended to help you write your essay faster and not get hung-up on minor SAT essay format decisions like “how many paragraphs should my SAT essay be?”

Therefore, I recommend that you use a standard four- or five-paragraph form to structure your SAT essay.

Your SAT essay introduction takes a stance on the topic and mentions the evidence you will use.

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Each SAT essay body paragraph focuses on two or three ways that one piece of SAT essay evidence supports your thesis. Clear transitions are essential.

A good SAT essay conclusion restates your stance, reminds them of your evidence, and ends with a thinking point.

At any point it’s a great time to show off the strength of your vocabulary (but particularly in the intro or conclusion).

The whole thing ideally wraps up into an awesome 5-paragraph SAT essay (4 paragraphs is acceptable as well!)

Why you shouldn’t use a fancy SAT essay structure

Your SAT essay should NOT use an experimental or creative format – not this time. I encourage that kind of stuff in everything you do OUTSIDE of the SAT essay. I know how much this bland busy-work essay can suck, but believe me, this is not the time to try writing page-long paragraphs just to prove that you can.

A “boring” four- or  five-paragraph SAT essay structure is important because it gives you a repeatable, stable form to practice with and makes it easier to fill both pages while showing off your evidence, which is one of our primary goals.

You don’t want to do any more critical thinking than absolutely necessary on the SAT essay – you just don’t have enough time, and it’s early in the morning, and so on. So don’t think too hard about your SAT essay structure – just go with what works, i.e. the basic intro-body-conclusion format.

Now, make sure to prepare your SAT essay evidence ahead of time and to get the rest of my score-improving SAT essay tips!

Further Reading:
How to Write a Great 5-Paragraph SAT Essay
How to Write a Great SAT Essay Introduction
Top 10 Tips for the SAT Essay
4 (More) Tips for a Better SAT Essay

Additional Resources:
Write the Best SAT Essay of Your Life! (e-Book)
Top 30 Examples to Use as SAT Essay Evidence (e-Book)
Conquer SAT Vocabulary (Video Course)

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