SAT Essay Help: Body Paragraphs
Each of your three body paragraphs has the same purpose: to support your thesis statement. They achieve that purpose, and your essay gets a higher score, when they also do the following:
- guide the reader with transition words
- show your command of written English, including grammar and vocabulary
- make each at least four sentences long, to bring your essay to one and a half to two pages total
- repeat the heartbeat words to remind the reader you are staying on topic
- use examples and evidence to back up your points
- use at least two types of sentence structures
You use transition words all the time. They help make your ideas clear and orderly, emphasizing, comparing, contrasting, locating in time and space, beginning, and concluding. They're listed here not because you need to learn them, but because you need to be aware of them as you write your SAT Essay.
Transition words literally guide your reader. They make it clear that you are moving from one point to another, that you're drawing a conclusion, and that you see how each piece of evidence fits in the context of your argument. They also make the point that you have planned your writing and are following that plan.
Transition words can be used to build that level of confidence that is so important in a persuasive essay. Move from your thesis statement to a sentence beginning with It follows that, and it will be clear to your reader that there is a strong and logical connection. The word nevertheless demonstrates that while there may be another way of thinking about one of your examples, your way is correct.
Transition words are especially important as you move from one body paragraph to another. Starting body paragraph two, for example, with Similarly means the point you are about to make reinforces and adds to the one in the previous paragraph.
The following are common transition words and their uses:
Showing location: above, along, amid, among, between, by, following, near, off, over, throughout
Showing time: after, afterwards, finally, first, later, meanwhile, next, now, second, simultaneously, soon, subsequently, then, third, until, while
Comparing: also, as, like, likewise, in the same way, similarly, while
Contrasting: although, but, conversely, despite, even though, however, nevertheless, on the contrary, though, yet
Emphasizing: again, especially, for this reason, in fact, to repeat
Concluding: as a result, because, finally, in conclusion, last, therefore
Adding information: additionally, along with, also, and, another, as well, besides, for example, for instance, in addition, moreover
Which Example Should You Use First?
Essays you write for your classes should typically start with your weakest example. It's more interesting to build up to the best, most important points. But with just 25 minutes to write your SAT essay, it makes more sense to start with your best example. If you do run out of time (and by using this book, your chances of doing that have lessened considerably), you'll be working on the least interesting example rather than the most.
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