Rosa Parks, Copernicus, and Hamlet.
What do all of these have in common?
According to graders of standardized tests, these subjects are some of the most commonly given examples in the SAT Essay Section. In my work as an SAT tutor, I'm often asked how to write a "perfect" essay, that is, how to write a detailed, informative, clever, and intriguing essay, all in under 25 minutes.
How to Write a "Perfect" Essay
What students often fail to realize is that SAT test graders are human—and they realize you are human, too. These test graders are required to read stacks of essays, for days on end. And although each essay is reviewed at least twice, test graders do not devote their time to analyzing the themes of your essay and recording each spelling error your make.
Place yourself in the test grader's shoes for a moment.
Which would you be more interested in reading about? The ninety-eighth essay you've read with an example detailing the life and times of Martin Luther King—or the first essay you've read on the circumstance surrounding the success of a unique historical figure?
What the Test Graders Want to Read
Although test graders are trained to be impartial to the subject material and information presented by your essay, graders will have more patience for unique content rather than the same information passed up over and over again. This is why review and test prep companies warn you to be legible in your essay—it will be easier to let your voice and intellect shine through in your essay, if it is easier to understand.
The same principle applies to essays that are interesting and command the reader's attention. Test graders will score lower on a harder to read essay: whether that be because of illegible handwriting, or a mundane and overused example. So do yourself a favor and choose the less common viewpoint or write about the success of someone who was first in their field, but whose story is not told on the pages of today's history textbooks. Try to interest your reader and you will score higher on the SAT.