The essay, which some may have assumed is the key to the
writing section, is actually worth about 30% of the writing section, but this can
make all the difference between a score of 500 and 700 in the section as a whole. The essay is the first part of the exam, and you only have 25 minutes to complete the essay- another point that
makes this test different than others. The question is always one that can be
applicable to any student, and involves taking a stand on an issue with clear
and strong support. Graded by two separate readers, they look at the essay from
a holistic perspective, individually decide on a score between 0-6, and then
combine their two scores. The average score is normally in the 6-8 range, which
equates to about 100 scaled points to add to your writing score.
SAT prompts are very diverse and cover global subjects ranging from gneral ethical questions about success to relationships and society. They always ask you to state your opinion using strong support with detail. It may not be like a high school essay you are familiar with where grammar might be graded more closely than other factors such as writing structure and content. It is important that you are consistent in all areas of your writing in order to get a score higher than a 6-8.
Here is an example question taken from a prior test:
Assignment: Do growth and progress make us happy or do they lead to dissatisfaction?