Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

SAT Essay Rubric - Organization

Admissions   Essay   Videos   Writing   SAT
Karl Schellscheidt -

eprep test prep videoThis entry is the second of 5 video posts dedicated to explaining the 5 different categories of the SAT essay grading rubric - or scoring guide. Find out the second secret factor the essay grading groups use.

SAT Essay Rubric - Organization (Transcript)

This is the 2nd of 5 videos in which I discuss the essay grading rubric. In the first video I discuss the category Development of Position. In this video I’d like to discuss the category Organization. To me, Organization means a few things, but it first means that you need to write in paragraph form. When the reader picks up your essay and first glances at it, they should see paragraphs. That is the first indication that you’re organized. You want to indent clearly and write in paragraph form.

Now lets talk about the different paragraphs you should have. The first one you should have should be your introduction. In your introduction the fist thing you want to do is to make a clear Statement of your Position, you want to say something like I believe that hard work can be disastrous . Period. Keep it simple. Clear Statement of Position. After that clear Statement of Position you may want give your reason or reasons for holding that position, you may want to tweak the topic a bit or you may to begin to introduce your examples. So that’s what the introduction contains.

The second paragraph is going to be your first body paragraph. This contains your first example. And what I would do is launch right into the example - My uncle worked so hard that he neglected his family and even though he achieved financial success he was miserable and had a disastrous life because his wife left him and his kids wanted nothing to do with him . You want to give an example of somebody who lived through something, who had an experience that bears out your position . That’s what an example is. So your second paragraph, which is your first body paragraph, should contain your first example and again, an example needs to support your position, it needs to be consistent with your reasoning and it needs to be an example - not just more reasoning, not just opinion and not just a hypothetical situation you’re making up. It’s got to come from your personal experiences, from literature , your studies, your observations, from history, wherever, but it must be an illustration of somebody living though something that bears out your position. So that’s what you want to do in your second paragraph.

When you get to the 3rd paragraph you want to add your second example. And the way I usually I begin the 3rd paragraph is by saying another illustration of and then restate your position .if you do that it’s going to remind you to stay on topic and its going to remind the reader that you’re staying on topic. So when you being your 3rd paragraph - which is your 2nd example - you may want to start with something like: Another illustration of why I believe that hard work can be disastrous comes from my readings .” And then you can launch into a discussion of a book that you’ve read that supports your position.

The last paragraph - the 4th one - should be your conclusion and there is nothing wrong with starting that paragraph by saying In conclusion , hard work can be disastrous. You can then recap or summarize your examples or you can summarize your reasonings and you’re done. It’s that simple. If you stay organized you’ll be on your way to scoring a very high essay grade.

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