October 2011 SAT: You Be the (Essay) Judge

The Essay score

The College Board gave this essay a score of 8 out of 12.

So what are your takeaways?

1. Don’t insult your reader.

While SAT essay readers are primarily judging your writing skills not your research skills and some errors in facts will be overlooked, no one likes to be made a fool of and if a reader is debating between giving you a 4 and a 5 odds are a clear disrespect for the reader will prompt them to give you a lower score.

2. It’s easier to tell the truth.

Like you’ve probably heard since you were a child, its easier to tell the truth. This is especially true in essay writing because making

up facts and writing your essay at the same time is probably tougher than just using the truth. (Which is ultimately what happened to me here).

Pages: 1 2

  • JoeBloggs

    almost perfect ….11

  • Rrifkind1

    I would give you a 9 because of some errors in grammar but you have a clear argument

  • http://blog.pwnthesat.com/ PWN the SAT

    I’m going with…9? It’s tough to grade something that strays so far from the norm, but I think in the effort to be outlandish you lost focus on the prompt a bit too much to get a really high score. How did Frank Lloyd Wright show discipline? How did his discipline lead to his freedom?

  • http://www.PrivateSchoolEdge.com Colin Raybin

    I am going to give it a 10. It is great in the predictable sense, which seems to always result in a score of a 10.Were the time markers actually written on the page?

  • Daisy

    I would give it a 8. Well written with only a few grammar error but the fact errors “Imperial Spain” are very funny and but egregious.

  • http://twitter.com/SheldonWordNerd Sheldon the WordNerd

    Thanks so much for sharing this. You’re answering a question I’ve always had! I’m finding it really hard to assign a grade with the factual errors (bravo by the way…still rolling over Grover Washington), even though the accuracy shouldn’t count. I think I’ll go with 9, maybe 10. A couple of sentences ramble, and your argument gets a little lost with Frank. Anxious to see the result!

  • http://twitter.com/akilbello Akil Bello

    I did get caught up in amusing myself with my inaccuracies! I lost the thread of my argument, I’m kind of disappointed in myself, but it was big fun!

  • http://twitter.com/akilbello Akil Bello

    I wrote the time markers on it for myself. I struggled with this one. I started to reply to the topic one way thought it wasn’t as fun or as clear and erased an entire paragraph and restarted. I was surprised how long it took me to write it (its been a long time since I took my last official proctored SAT with kids. Thanks @debbiesteir for motivating me to do it again), you know us big muckety muck corporate types dont do the legwork we have our minions do it.

    Anyway the time markers I wrote during the test, so yup I wrote the entire conclusion in like 4 minutes. And my hand hurt after I wrote it, I type I never write for 20 minutes anymore.

  • http://twitter.com/akilbello Akil Bello

    I too think all my writing is almost perfect!

  • http://twitter.com/akilbello Akil Bello

    I think I might have to retest in December and write a better argument but still keep the egregious errors

  • Mike

    I’m going to give it an 9. Grammatical errors and some run on sentences. Factual errors as well. Good job though. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thembi

    I’m guessing a 9 also, and think it might have been an 11 had you argued the opposite and shown how undisciplined Frank Lloyd Wright (heh) was instead of just telling us.

  • Thembi

    One measly case of passive voice is all that stood out writing-wise.

  • http://twitter.com/akilbello Akil Bello

    Since I know you’re all curious. My essay score was an 8.

  • Eli Eli Rah Rah Rah

    I’m an SAT coach and former Essay reader. You should never get a high score for arguing the opposite side of the argument…that is considered off topic. It’s okay on the ACT essay, but not on the SAT.

  • Anonymous

    I disagree with you Eli. We’ve gotten great scores doing a whole host of tomfoolery. Part of the point of this post is to show that you can get decent score doing almost any of the “great taboo” things that are often told to kids.

    The readers grade writing not content so no matter what position you take you can get a good score if its well written. Akil (sorry boss) would have gotten a better score if he held a bit better to his point and developed his argument better. There have been published essays where the author advocated atrocities like the Holocaust and still got above a 10. Its writing primarily that governs the score, all other things are secondary. Test-takers should keep that in mind and not get so caught up in trying to follow someone elses list of dos and donts.

  • Simone

    I would give this essay a 9. It would have been nice if you defined discipline from your perspective so that I could know how to evaluate your examples.  The way in which this essay was written the you assumed the reader knew some of the information. Also, in your second example about Frank Wright you did not explain exactly what he did that showed his discipline. However, for the most part the essay was coherent, your argument was clear and at the end of it all I knew what you were trying to get me to believe.

  • ahmed

    as an expert iam sorry to ask u for something that is not related to the essay but i realy need help i wrote my essay starting with the second page the continued on the first page what will happen to me

  • thembi

    Hi Ahmed!

    I’m not sure if readers are able to go backwards in looking at the essay, but I know they only read it one time. However, it sounds like anyone reading a backwards essay could figure out what happened there and at most mark the essay down a point or so for lack of organization. It’s important to remember that the underlying goal of readers is to match the score that the other reader gives the essay, so I can’t imagine it resulting in a zero or anything extreme because while the scoring rubric calls for a well-organized essay it doesn’t allow graders to take mistakes like that (or even poor handwriting) into account.

    For your reference, here are the scoring guidelines that graders use: http://sat.collegeboard.org/scores/sat-essay-scoring-guide

    I hope that helps!

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