Saturday, August 25, 2012

Writing an SAT Essay Can Really be "Mission Possible"!

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I remember when I was in high school and preparing to go to college. I went to a large and very modern highschool, with a wonderful guidance department, but one thing it lacked was instructions and advice on how to take the college entrance tests that we were required to take. I had no idea what was expected of us. We just blindly went in and took the SAT and ACT without really knowing what we were doing.
 
I was really thrilled when John Allen and I were chosen to review the Time4Writing.com eight week online course called Mission Possible: SAT Essay Writing. Now let me tell you, our eight weeks started way back at the end or July, and John Allen was just not ready to start school yet. It was like pulling hen's teeth to get him to sit down and do any work. However, when he saw how thorough this course was then he was even more reluctant to begin the work. What he didn't realize, though, was that, although it was thorough, the course is set up to work step by step on how to write a good SAT Essay.
 
Now, Mission Possible: SAT Essay Writing is really the best of two worlds. It's an online course that you work through on your own, but it also has a teacher (John Allen's teacher is Mrs. Cevela) who grades the written work and gives advice to the student through online comments. As I mentioned, you have eight weeks to work through the course, but, it can actually been worked through in as little as four weeks if a student does more than one lesson a day.
 
There is a lot of great information in the Mission Possible: SAT Essay Writing course, but it is broken down into excellent bite sized chunks. The course is laid out in eight parts - one for each week. They are:
 
  1. What you need to know - Writing for the SAT.
  2. Breaking down the writing prompt.
  3. An important review - writing and excellent essay.
  4. Using your voice in your essays.
  5. Stronger sentences, stronger essays.
  6. Improving paragraph structure.
  7. Identifying and correcting errors for better essays.
  8. The only way to study - Practice, Practice, Practice.
 
 
As I mentioned above, each section takes about a week to complete. Not all sections have five lessons in each section. Some might have three or four, but usually when that happens, there is a written assignment that needs to be graded by the teacher. The teacher grades and gets back to you with suggestions within 24 hours unless it is a Friday or weekend day when it is completed. Writing assignments turned in on Friday or the weekend can take a little more than 24 hours. Some assignments, though, may not be writing assignment at all. Some may be just reading about how to do something and then reading examples. All lessons must be done in order, though, for a student to get the complete idea.
 
John Allen, as I said, got off to a rocky start. The first day, we went over the instructions and watched the very well done and easy to understand introduction video that explains how everything will work for the course. The first few lessons were also easy as all he had to do was read and answer some questions. Then, however, came the writing! John Allen is actually a good writer when he is writing a book review or something like that. SAT essay writing really through him off, however, because it requires a little more of a structure and has a 25 minute time limit for each essay. He isn't used to something like that. The first time he tried to write an SAT essay about a topic that was chosen from a list, he totally flopped! Mrs. Cevela was ever so kind in her comments, but, really, it was pretty bad. She suggested that we move to a more basic essay writing course (Time4Writing has a plethora of writing courses for all ages, grades and writing types to choose from) but, since we were reviewing this course for the TOS Review Crew, it were required to stick with this one. 
 
He has since warmed up to it and is getting into a bit of a rhythm. The second writing assignment was actually very well received by the teacher! I would, however, recommend that unless your student is well practiced in writing a regular essay, he take a more basic essay writing course as Mrs. Cevela suggested John Allen do. I think that you'll find out that the SAT essay is a whole other "ball game" when it comes to writing. This course explains everything well, though, from what to expect and how to outline and write a 25 min. essay from a given topic to how the SAT is graded and what to do to make sure your essay stands out above the others. This really is an excellent course and I would recommend it being taken before a student takes the SAT. Knowing what to expect and how to write and SAT essay will greatly enhance your SAT score.
 
I would also recommend the price! Most online courses with a teacher cost in the $100's of dollars. This course, however is just $99! You can find out more about this course and more writing courses from Time4Writing by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above.  

Other members or the TOS Review Crew reviewed other courses from Time4Writing.com and you can find what they had to say by clicking here.
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Review Crew I was given the 8 week course Mission Impossible: SAT Essay Writing from Time4Writing.com in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

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