5 Easy Proofreading Tips for your 6-Point SAT Essay

SAT Prep

Today's post comes to us courtesy of Nikolas Baron, a Product Manager for Grammarly.


Proofreading the smart way is the best technique any student can use to improve the SAT essay when time is running out, and the clock is ticking. Correcting the key points may be all you have time to do, so knowing what to focus on makes the job easier, faster, and more productive. Here are some of the most effective strategies I’ve come across whilst researching for my natural language processing startup.

Choose Effective Words

Graders evaluate your thesis statement for a clear, main idea that addresses every aspect of the writing prompt. Evaluate your thesis statement to ensure it is strong. Using weak phrases like might change the world or can change the world reflect ambiguity when will change the world implies certainty. This small correction will make an essay and its proof much more powerful to the reader.

Vary Word Choice

Prove you have an admirable command of the language by varying word choice. When writing any essay, it is common to write the main ideas down, paying little attention to the words you choose. Fine-tune by selecting more specific or more descriptive words. If you see the same words repeatedly in your writing, it is a sign that you are not applying your knowledge of vocabulary. Some of the most common repeated words in essays are good, great, interesting, and important. It is fine to use them once or twice if they apply, but try replacing with respectable, abundant, remarkable, and significant in the next sentence.

Use Transitions

It may seem formulaic, but adding transitional words like first, lastly, or additionally will seamlessly guide the reader from one idea to the next. Add transitions during proofreading to make an essay flow more logically.

Use Formal Language in Academic Essays

There are some exceptions, but as a rule, slang, conjunctions, and second person pronouns are not allowed in academic essays.

  • Slang – The only exception to using slang in an academic essay is when the essay is about slang, or if slang is used in a direct quote.
  • Conjunctions – Check for conjunctions like don’t and won’t. Spell them out.
  • Second person pronouns - Unless you are quoting someone, any variation of the word you is not allowed. Scan your paper for the word you, and rewrite the sentence in third person.

Check Sentence Structure, Grammar, Punctuation, Capitalization, and Spelling

Sentence structure, usage, and mechanical errors are easy to correct when you have already familiarized yourself with the rules. By now, most of the errors you make in structure, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling have probably become a part of your natural writing style. Don’t worry - you don’t need to retake all of your classes in grammar and punctuation. You do need a website that will point out some of your learned mistakes and show you how to correct them. Use an automated online proofreader in preparation for your SAT essay. By running your practice essays through something like Grammarly, you can evaluate and familiarize yourself with your most common writing mistakes and learn how to fix them.

Time will seem short, but focusing on word choice, word usage, language, transitions, capitalization, and other quickly recognizable errors will provide you with the tools you need to use your essay time wisely. Proofreading by focusing on corrections that can be made quickly is the smart way to improve your SAT essay score.