Published on March 14, 2014
Breakthroughs in Training: Improving Essay Writing for College Applications and ACT/SAT Essay Writing Sections Debbie Merion, M.S.W, M.F.A Essay Coaching www.essaycoaching.com, email@example.com & Geri Markel, PhD, Managing Your Mind Coaching & Seminars www.managingyourmind.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Presented at: The 2012 Michigan Pre-College and Youth Outreach Conference –11-19-2012
Get Ready to Learn • Similarities and differences between college application essays and SAT/ACT essays • How each type of essay is evaluated • How to prepare for and write both kinds of essays
Differences Between College Application and SAT/ACT Essays Application Essay 1. How effectively can you help a school understand you, like you, or admire you? 2. Requires self insight and specific details of real experiences. 3. Evaluation based on “Would the student fit in here, contribute here, be successful here?” 4. Typed 5. Can start six months before it’s due 6. Written at home ACT/SAT Writing Sections 1. How effectively can you argue a point such as “Should 18-year- olds vote?” 2. Requires a point of view, substantiated with information from reading studies, experience and observations 3. Specific scoring rubric 4. Handwritten 5. Time pressure: SAT: 25 minutes ACT: 30 minutes 6. Extemporaneous
Similarities in Writing Requirements • Thoughtfulness and creativity counts • Vocabulary counts • Sentence structure counts • Grammar counts • Organization counts • Length counts
How College Admissions Essays are Evaluated 1. Does the essay tell you something about the student? What did you learn? 2. Did you hear the student’s voice? 3. What qualities or talents does the student reveal? 4. Do you get a sense of the student as a person? 5. Have they done an effective job of telling their story? 6. Are the grammar, spelling, and punctuation correct?
Scoring & Average Scores for Writing Sections ACT: 1.5 Million take the ACT Writing Section is optional. 56% of students take it. Scoring: Essays are scored from 1-6 (http://www.actstudent.org/writing/scores/guidelines.html) Average Score on the Writing Section: 7.1 SAT: 1.55 million take the SAT Writing is mandatory. 1/3 of the test score involves the written essay Scoring For SAT: Essays are scored from 2 to 12 (http://www.collegeboard.com/html/satreg/scoring-guide.html) SAT: Average Scores on the Writing Section: 489
Evaluation Criteria Links • http://sat.collegeboard.org /practice/writing-sat- essay? pageId=practiceWritingEssa y&tabValue=scoring • http://www.act.org/essayvi ew/sample/index.html • http://www.admissions.um ich.edu/essays-tips
Process for Writing College Essays Part 1 1. Get organized. Read questions at commonapp.org. Gather each school’s questions and application deadlines. 2. Stir up your memories of situations revealing your best qualities. Write lists, use fast writing. – Three ways I’m different from my friends. – Three subjects I could talk about for an hour. – Three reasons my friends, teachers, and coaches respect and value my presence. – Three books that have had an impact on me. – Use One of Your Ideas as a Writing Prompt – Set a timer for 10 minutes. keep your hand moving and don’t cross out. – Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar.
Process for Writing College Essays Part 2 3. Choose a topic using good judgment. Write about something you care about, with an anecdote and reflections. Ask yourself: what will a reader learn about me from this essay?” 4. Write it like you’re telling a creative nonfiction story that only you can tell. Balance descriptions of your experiences and reflections. Make your essay memorable with sensory detail. Make sure you answer the question. 5. Edit frequently and carefully. Typos reproduce while you are sleeping. Read out loud, listen to the judgment and advice of knowledgeable adults.
Preparing for SAT/ACT Writing Sections 1. Review the scoring guides for each test. Get samples. 2. List the differences and decide which test is most aligned with your interests and writing strengths. 3. Read a prompt and underline key words or ideas. Repeat the question in your own words and then visualize a situation that reflects the idea of the prompt. 4. Decide on your stance or position and list reasons. Spend a minute or two to reflect upon your ideas. Think of examples. 5. Allow 3 to 5 minutes to write an outline. Use key words or diagrams. 6. Allow at least 3 minutes to review organization, omissions or inaccuracies.
Taking the SAT/ACT Essay Section 1. Prepare: Take a few breaths and stretch. Give yourself a “Pep” talk and then focus. The end is near! (1 minute) 2. Prompt: Read the prompt and visualize the situation. Circle key words. Decide your position and support. (2 minutes) 3. Plan: List the parts: Introduction, 2 to3 paragraphs and conclusion. Make questions for each paragraph and list key words that support your position with facts and examples. Consider including a counter argument. (3 minutes) 4. Write: Take a deep breath and develop an interesting first sentence. Write legibly & check the time. (15 to 17 minutes) 5. Check: Topic sentence for each paragraph? Logical order? Transitions needed? Spelling, punctuation, and grammar correct? (3 to 5 minutes)
SAT Writing Prompt The idea of caring about only the people of one's own country seems outdated. Some people still defend this attitude, claiming that if we are going to expend resources to help people, we should help those of our own country first. But national boundaries are meaningless lines that shift over time. There is no reason why a citizen of one country should not feel just as responsible for the well-being of people in other countries as for the well-being of those in his or her own country. Assignment: Should we care just as much about people in other countries as we do about people in our own country? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.
ACT Writing Prompt Many high school libraries use some of their limited funding to subscribe to popular magazines with articles that are interesting to students. Despite limited funding, some educators support this practice because they think having these magazines available encourages students to read. Other educators think school libraries should not use limited funds to subscribe to these magazines because they may not be related to academic subjects. In your opinion, should high school libraries subscribe to popular magazines even though the magazines may not be related to academic subjects. In your essay, take a position. You may write about either of the two points of view given, or you may present a different point of view. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.
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