Improving Your Essay

The SAT Essay

Vary your vocabulary

You are required to write this essay in English – a language that may not even be your second, but rather your third language – and that’s a tough task for most of us. The scoring rubric says that a top score of 4 for writing requires a cohesive response and demonstrates a highly effective use and command of language. But, luckily for you, this can be learned.

Now look again at the word in bold ‘says.’ Can you think of other words that mean the same thing? Use these when you introduce a point that the writer is using in the essay. In this way, you are introducing some variation and hopefully lulling one of your two readers into thinking, at last: here’s an erudite* student with a wide-ranging vocabulary. And remember, since each reader is probably spending only a couple of minutes on your essay, you don’t have much time to impress them – distinctive words will count.

Then what about ‘first’? What can you use as an alternative?

* erudite: cultured, well read

Here are a few alternatives for you – and I recommend you learn them by heart.

says = contends/is adamant/argues/asserts/suggests/explains

first = throughout the passage/the primary argument/the author opens with/initially

second = furthermore/moreover/in addition