Understanding the SSAT Writing Sample
For the first section of the SSAT, you will have 25 minutes to produce a sample of your best writing. For the writing sample, you will choose from two prompts: one is a creative prompt in the form of a partial sentence. The other is a question that provides the starting point for a more traditional essay. You should choose the topic that is most interesting to you, and that you feel confident writing!
You should know that this writing sample is not scored, but will be sent to the schools you choose along with your test score, so it’s important to put in preparation and effort. The writing sample of the SSAT is one of the most overlooked sections when it comes to test prep!
The Creative Sample:
If you choose the creative writing sample, make sure that you create a well-structured story that showcases an issue that you care about and contains the structural elements of an introduction, rising action, climax, and resolution. You should have a conflict or “Problem” that is appropriate to the story’s length—make sure to end on a satisfying resolution that completes the story’s narrative. Try to show your characters learning some kind of lesson at the end of the story. Strong characters and vivid imagery and description can also help your story stand out.
The Analytical Sample:
For the analytical essay, you should have a clear, focused topic that connects to what you know about and what you care about. The essay should be structured much like essays you’ve written in school—include an introduction, two or three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. In the introduction, remember to state your topic and explain clearly why this topic is important to you. In the body paragraphs, include specific example to support your topic. Then, in the conclusion, rephrase your main points and offer something new to the reader, such as describing how this topic will affect your actions in the future.
As you prepare for the writing sample portion of the test, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Plan It Out
For both the creative and personal prompt, take a few minutes before you start writing to organize your thoughts and structure your writing beforehand. This will help you to create a more organized piece of writing!
2. Check Yourself
Always remember that neatness and organization matter. Make sure that you take a couple of minutes at the end of your writing time to proofread, double-checking your spelling, grammar, and clarity. Even handwriting matters; make sure every part of your essay looks polished and neat.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
It goes without saying that the best way to improve on this section is practice.
No one can create a masterpiece on their first attempt, so make sure that you practice the writing sample. Use practice prompts and time yourself to learn how to produce a good writing sample in twenty-five minutes. This is a good opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to write clearly and concisely, and to show your creativity, so it’s worth spending time to practice!
The official SSAT website offers SSAT essay topics for you to use. Practice writing on both creative and analytical topics, and see which type works for you.
At Test Innovators, we have support to guide you through every step of your writing process. We have nine timed sample essay topics available, and additional untimed prompts, and after writing you can get personal essay feedback from our test prep experts! In addition, our Video Course offers some detailed tips and guidance for structuring and polishing your writing sample. Learn More.