SAT Essay Time


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The SAT Essay time limit is extremely short – you only 25 minutes to read a random prompt and produce an effective essay that responds to that prompt.

Despite these difficult requirements, your main goal is to write as much as possible without going off-topic.

So how should you best use your limited SAT essay time? Here’s some advice from a pro SAT tutor and perfect scorer.

Best uses of your limited time on the SAT Essay:

  • Have your SAT essay evidence ready and researched ahead of time. This will save you so much time that I’m not sure how anyone writes the SAT essay without it.
  • Plan on planning: use the first several minutes to outline your argument and essay; this will pay off big when you have a strong, well-planned essay structure that keeps you on track.
  • Focus more on the actual prompt question than the words in the box above the prompt – that box is only there to provide a little bit more to think about, but it is NOT the question that you need to answer.
  • Identify keywords in the prompt like “leadership,” “progress,” “technology,” etc.
  • Match your evidence to the keywords. Since you should have at least 5 pieces of SAT essay evidence ready, you’ll want to narrow it down to the evidence that BEST relates to the topic.
  • Decide on your stance/thesis AFTER you’ve picked your evidence; go with whatever side is easiest to support with the facts you have memorized.
  • Write a well-structured essay with a good intro paragraph, 2-3 great body paragraphs, and a solid conclusion
  • Proofread if any time is left

Practice makes perfect! Read about my SAT Essay method guide to get a better idea of what you’re going for… then pick up a copy of my SAT essay evidence special report for helpful examples, and practice applying everything you’ve learned to real SAT essay prompts from the Official SAT Study Guide.


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Perfect-scorer, pro tutor, entrepreneur, web designer, textbook author, motorcyclist, rock and roll guitarist, classical pianist, songwriter, wanderer, environmentalist, dog lover, cat lover, spicy food addict.


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