Tips for the SAT?


I’ll be taking the SAT I in three days, and I’ve concluded that above everything else, I need to work on my essay writing and vocabulary skills. For now, I’m putting my priority on essay-writing, so I was wondering if you guys (especially those who did well on their essays) could offer some tips. To be more specific:

  • What’s a good way to brainstorm when you are first given the topic? When I take practice essays, my major problem is that I take too long brainstorming, and I’m usually left with only 10 minutes to write an essay. Because of this, I tend to rush, which makes my handwriting illegible (sometimes) and basically screws up my essay.

  • How can I make my essay sound more intellectual? I sound like a little kid when I write an essay because for some reason I can’t get any good vocabulary out. I’ve decided that, since I don’t really have that much time, I just need to create a collection of words that can replace common expressions and use those in my essay. For example, I might say in my essay: “There are many different reasons why …”, replace this with “There are a myriad of reasons why …”, it sounds better, right? So, where can I find a list of these useful ‘essay’ words.
    — > Words that describe quantity? (multitude, myriad)
    — > Words that describe quality? (fusty, perdurable)
    — > Words that describe …
    Or is this a bad approach?

And one more thing,
How can I exercise my brain so that I can sit down and take this long test while staying sharp. I find that near the end of the test, my brain is exhausted, especially during the boring critical reading sections. I need help staying alive and awake during this SAT!

Appreciate any help!


I have the same problem as you. I’m taking the SAT this saturday June 3rd. I’m sorry, I cannot provide you with some vocabulary words that would sound not-childish, for I hadn’t much success with essays. My only advice would be, take 5 minutes brainstorming, writing a brief outline of how you are going to go about your essay “paragraphwise”. By the way, you are so right about the Critical Reading section; it is so boring. I understand that you cannot stay sharp and focused. The Critical Reading Section, unfortunately a more important section than the Writing Section, is in fact, as you put it, “boring”. What can I say…do your best to stay focused because you have to if you want to do well. One more thing I surprisingly found to suggest to you is write at least 400 words on the essay. It is possible if you don’t waste time, and you are used to writing most of your class or homework essays of that length. I know! You don’t have as much time for the SAT Essay as you do for your school assignments. Yet, on the SAT you are not asked to write a complete, polished essay but merely a draft. During the few days you have left, write! I must do that myself. Write as much as you can in 25 minutes on any subject you choose. As you write, anticipate what you intend to write, how you wish to outline your following paragraph or the last sentences, and then, you will find yourself still writing. That may help insofar as length is concerned. Do your best to write as legibly as possible. I guess writing in small neat characters will help. You should, by all means, use at least two examples taken from different sources in writing your essay. I’m sure you know all that; I feel I’m not telling more than you probably know.

Good luck on taking your exam.

Thanks you so much for your help. I guess I’ll go with what you said. Just keep practicing writing on different subjects. And I’m still looking for the ‘word list’ I was talking about in my first post. Really, I thought one like that would be available in many places on the net.

Oh! There is a word list on the internet. I think you asked for that a little late. But here it is … d_list.wdl

It’s taken from Barron’s SAT Prep Book; it is the best SAT list, I certainly think. But to know all these words in one day or three, since you’ve asked two days ago is extremely difficult. Nevertheless, look at it. Perhaps you can find some interesting words you could put onto your essay.

The SAT is tomorrow; I’m gonna eat before I go to sleep until D-Day! It’s a bit sad that this forum is so quiet. I think we could talk to each other sometime.

Good luck.