Should I write my SAT essay in cursive?

With the rise of online media (like this blog), it’s easy to assume that print is dead.  However, that doesn’t mean you should write your SAT essay in cursive.  Print and cursive each have their benefits and their drawbacks.  When deciding which to use for your SAT essay, consider neatness, your comfort, and the time limit.

Is the essay grader giving me points for neatness?

Essay graders won’t specifically give points for neatness or take away points for sloppiness. However, keep in mind that they also won’t be giving points for essays they can’t read.  When choosing between using print or cursive, your first consideration should be which is easier to read.  Most people write more legibly in print, but that might not be the case for you.

Why does my comfort matter?

Taking the SAT is stressful enough.  The last thing you need to do is add to your stress by trying to use a writing style that’s difficult or uncomfortable for you.  Use the writing style you usually use (as long as it’s readable) so you can focus your mental energy on writing a cogent argument with detailed support.

What about the need for speed?

You have 25 minutes to write the SAT essay.  It’s enough time, but only just.  If you’re struggling to finish your conclusion within the time limit, consider whether you could write more quickly in another writing style.  Be careful, though: you never want to sacrifice accuracy for speed on the SAT.  Finishing early won’t boost your score, and it won’t matter how good your finished essay is if the grader can’t read it.

If you’re still undecided on whether to print or write in cursive on your SAT essay, try a few practice essays each way.  The practice will improve your essay writing skills, and you’ll get a chance to see which writing style maximizes neatness, comfort, and speed for you.  Happy writing, and best of luck on your real SAT!

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