Kweller Prep Sat Essay Topics


# of Questions & Time Limit

Content/Skills Covered

Question Types


75 questions in 45 min.

Grammar & Usage, Punctuation, Sentence Structure, Strategy, Organization, and Style

Four-choice, Multiple-choice Usage/Mechanics and Rhetorical Skills questions


60 questions in 60 min.

Pre-algebra, Elementary Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, Coordinate Geometry, Plane Geometry, and Trigonometry

Five-choice, Multiple-choice questions


40 questions in 35 min.

Reading Comprehension of what is directly stated or implied

Four-choice, Multiple-choice referring and Reasoning questions


40 questions in 35 min.

Interpretation, Analysis, Evaluation, Reasoning, and Problem Solving

Four-choice, Multiple-choice Data Representation, Research Summaries, and Conflicting Viewpoints questions


1 essay in 40 min.

Writing Skills

Essay Prompt

When is The Best Time to take the SAT?

I am asked this question regularly, and would like to properly address it. First and foremost, the SAT is offered in the following months: October, November, December, January, March, May and June.

The Test Month Options for the school year are as follows:

August (as of 2017)




January (No longer offered)




Before we get into the best time to take the SAT, I must address what I call the “Score Choice Scam.” With the new Score Choice policy (which is very tricky, and I will elaborate on it in another article), students are informed that they may take the SAT as many times as they’d like, and just have to submit the scores they want to the schools they choose.

Score Choice sounds easy, right? Nope! Please do not be fooled by the College Board’s sneaky tactics. ETS (the Educational Testing Service, aka “Evil Testing Serpents”) is squeezing more money out of each and every tester. Think about it; instead of taking the test one or two times (and paying for the test just one or two times), kids are misled and parents are duped into now taking and paying for the test six or seven times. ETS benefits tremendously by keeping parents in the dark. Instead of paying $51 once or twice to take the SAT ($102 in total), kids are now encouraged to take the test over and over again. Six tries will be around $300! Oh, there are such things as fee waivers, by the way, but those are scarce and hard to find—and there is no way that you will get away with using a waiver for six attempts at taking the test. Guidance counselors receive a cap on how many they can distribute and have to do a careful accounting of each fee waiver.

It is imperative to know that the rumors you hear about score choice are not entirely true. You can’t keep your SAT scores a secret from some very prestigious schools. Many top schools, such as Georgetown University, do not participate in score choice AT ALL (see cfm: “Georgetown University does NOT participate in the Score Choice options available through the College Board or the similar program through Educational Testing Service (ETS) and “Georgetown requires that you submit scores from ALL test sittings of the SAT, ACT or SAT Subject Tests.”)

The list gets longer. In fact, many top schools, not just the Ivy League, want to see ALL student SAT scores, not merely the top ones in each section (sorry to be the one to have to tell you this). Here is a list of just some of the colleges that do not participate in score choice—which means they will require ALL SAT SCORES when you apply to their college: Stanford, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown, and Yale. There are many more schools, but that’s a lot of info for now.

Now back to business. Before I reveal the “magic month” (please don’t scroll down & cheat!!!) I need to address the detriments of receiving and relying on bad advice. Students often go to their friends or teachers to ask when the best time to take the SAT is. Many college advisors and teachers alike tell students to take the SAT (or ACT) when they are ready. They tend not to specify or explain a strategic month to take the test. The student is left to figure out on his own when to take the test, and the student wrongfully decides to take it in June of Junior Year.

Teachers tend to tell students to take the SAT when they are ready. “Just take it when it feels right!” they often say. While the person giving such advice may have very good intentions, I have yet to meet students who, with certainty, felt completely “ready” to take a 3.5-hour long, 10 consecutive-section exam bright and early on a Saturday or Sunday morning. In fact, many students leave the SAT wishing they invested even more hours in preparing for the test, no matter how much they studied in advance. Taking the test “when ready” is generally the free advice you get from friends and counselors. Please be wary of this.

With that being said, is it true that some months of the year are better than others to take the SAT? The answer is YES.

Hands down, the best time to take the SAT is during junior year (11th Grade) of high school. When? The earlier, the better. Taking the SAT as a junior for the very first time (officially) is optional… and strategic. This means that you should prepare all summer long for the test so that you can ultimately ace it. 11th Grade is an ideal time to take the SAT. Kweller Prep offers 8-week intensive SAT prep courses to give you structure and teach strategies as you prep for the SAT from Grades 10-11. By then, you should already have taken math courses such as algebra and geometry, be able to comfortably handle trigonometry and functions, and are comfortable with a TI-84 or TI-Inspire.

11th Grade is also often a student’s first peek into near-adulthood maturity; the end of high school is near, and he/she is ready to leave the nest and go off to college. Parents will notice a more cooperative child during his/her 11th Grade. Students tend to want to do better in school during this time, because college is right at their fingertips.

By 11th Grade, hopefully, you have already taken or are taking as many advanced or AP English classes that are offered at your school in order to develop a strong vocabulary.

10th Grade is too early to take the SAT for the first time, while conversely, 12th Grade is too late.

Students should NOT prepare for the SAT a month or two before the exam, despite what many companies, such as the Princeton Review or the Kaplan Suggest. A few weeks or hours of prep simply won’t cut it. If you really want to excel, you should take at least one dozen proctored exams before game day. Many Kweller Prep students, in particular, those who scored in the 99th percentile, prepared 6 months- 1 year in advanced intensively, and took approximately 12-20 proctored practice SAT tests at Kweller Prep.

Here is a monthly breakdown of when to take the SAT:

May of Junior Year:

For some reason, the vast majority of high school juniors take the May version of the SAT for their first time dealing with this atrocious test. I think this is a mistake, for several reasons. First of all, if you take the SAT for the first time in May, and are later unhappy with your score, you will not be able to retake the test until at least October of Senior Year. Obviously, then, taking the SAT in May is a bad idea.

What students don’t realize is that if they are unhappy with the May test results, they will have to pay an ADDITIONAL $27.50 in late registration fees to register for the June exam, only have a week to study, and will then be too late to adequately prepare. Students won’t get their May SAT results until at least May 22, and the late registration deadline for the June exam is May 23. (Availability information for SAT tests can be found here: It’s also highly likely that the local test centers will be filled, and students will have to test in undesirable locations far away from home. Remember, the early bird catches the worm.

Another reason why taking the SAT in May is NOT IDEAL is because the academic school year is particularly demanding during that month. During the month of May, many students take AP (Advanced Placement) exams, IB (International Baccalaureate) exams, (, complete term papers, prepare for New York State Regents exams, and get ready for school finals, science projects, and the like. Talk about having a lot on your plate! It is nearly impossible to adequately prepare for the SAT in May, given the divided attention, and many students wind up retaking the SAT in October of their senior year (so much for senioritis) because they cannot manage all these significant responsibilities, and who could blame them? The SAT is not the kind of test you want to take in addition to doing twenty other things; preparing adequately for this exam truly requires much of your undivided attention.

Kweller Prep students prepared for the upcoming October SAT as many as 5 days a week—all summer long. Needless to say, this was not their ideal summer break, and a horrible way to spend the last summer before starting their final year of high school. Why did they get stuck taking the SAT in October? This happens every year; we get a batch of kids from other tutoring centers, such as Kaplan or Princeton, which sign kids up and suggest the May SAT for the first time.The next thing you know, these kids receive results at the end of May, do not have time to study for June, and boom! They come join our summer camp.

It is important to remember the difference between theory and practice. In theory, you may tell yourself that you will study like crazy after you take the May test, every day until June. But in reality, that won’t happen. I’ll tell you what will: After you take the May SAT, you will want to unwind and the last thing you will want to do is to study. You will play a “wait-and-see” game to see how you did on the May exam. Bad, bad idea.

Here is another reality check. You should consider the weather as a factor of when to take the SAT. Yes, the WEATHER. You heard me right.

New York finally gets its first taste of springy, sunny weather in May. I pull out my flower dresses and all I want to do is play with my puppy outside. The last thing on my mind is studying—please! That was so wintertime!!!

After several months of New York City’s bitter cold, the temptation of spending a sunny afternoon outdoors instead of being indoors studying is very great. You should take the test when it’s cold outside, when you are more likely to stay indoors and prepare so that you are at your optimal readiness level on test day. A cold tester is a focused tester. In short, if possible, stay away from the idea of making the May SAT the first time you will test. You will wind up retesting in October, and really regret not taking that test sooner—after paying rush fees and missing early-decision and early-action deadlines.

October of Senior Year:

Ideally, taking the SAT for the first time Junior Year is perfect, perfect, perfect. Then, taking it a second time January of Junior Year is beyond ideal. By March of Junior Year, students can sit for the SAT for the third and last time. Here are the reasons why you should not take the SAT for the first time in October of Senior Year.

Taking the SAT as a senior is flat-out painful. Many students get trapped into taking the October SAT in their senior year (as elaborated upon in-detail above).

I have several bits of advice to offer as to why October is NOT the optimal time to take the SAT.

First, the SAT is scored on a curve.

Curving a test means that your score is rescaled, and during October, the readjustment of scores is NOT tipped in your favor. (See:

Normalization also requires that overly high scores be adjusted downward for conformity. Either way, data are distorted and some information is lost. Look at some data, and then consider all the implications of “grading on a curve’.”

Moreover, almost all students taking the October SAT are seniors, and so doing well in October will be incredibly harder than at any other times of the year. I had several students score a 2100 or higher during practice tests, but only hit a 2000 for the October SAT because of the rescaled score curve. This is why I firmly believe that a student who would otherwise score a 2000 on the January administration of the SAT would only get as much as an 1850 in October, because of the stiff competition of the curve.

With regards to the weather; boy, is it beautiful during the months leading up to October! This means that studying for the SAT throughout the summer will be harder than ever. It takes an incredible amount of discipline to prepare for the SAT when your friends are scheduling beach trips and your families are arranging exotic once-a-year vacations. Even my most disciplined testers missed a lesson or two throughout the summer, and I couldn’t blame them. After a rigorous junior year of high school, who wouldn’t want to enjoy his or her summer before senior year?

Furthermore, because nearly all the students taking the October SAT have already taken it at least once before, statistically, their scores are likely to increase, as they have already gone through the initial stress of sitting for the exam for the first time, thus tipping the curve against their favor.

Pleasant weather, classic senioritis symptoms, and a miserable testing curve are just a few reasons why taking the SAT in October is not optimal. If you can, stay away, or else be prepared to dedicate your summer living at Kweller Intensive SAT Prep.

Ask yourself, do you really want to play football with the pro’s or with amateurs? Nearly every senior taking the SAT in October took it once before, and many of them studied and prepared all summer. Personally, I play to win. I’m perfectly happy competing with amateurs.

November of Junior Year:

Do not take the SAT for the first time in November of Junior Year. You will get the results over Thanksgiving and if you do poorly, you will be bummed out over the holidays. You are also a full two months into school and getting ready for midterms at many and the last thing you need is to deal with the SAT on top of that. As explained earlier, it is much more beneficial to take the SAT for the very first time in October of Junior year, then again in January, then again in March of Junior year. This way, you can spread out your tests and results and you will have plenty of time to study in between. Remember, by taking the SAT for the first time in October of Junior Year, you can utilize your whole summer to prep and study for this exam. Taking in in November of Junior year for the first time would be a mistake.

November of Senior Year:

Taking the SAT senior year is rough, really rough, and I would never advise it unless you have no other choice. The real problem with November testing senior year (and there are many more reasons than just the few stated here) is that students are likely to fall behind with the college application process since the November scores won’t even be released until November 21.

In SAT Land, the early bird truly catches the worm and no student taking the November or December administration of the SAT will be eligible to apply Early Action (EA, which is non-binding) or Early Decision (ED, which is binding), since these priority deadlines are usually November 1 or November 15.

The earlier you apply to college, the better, and by taking the SAT so late in the game, you not only hurt your chances for early college admissions, but also for scholarship deadlines. What’s worse is that the later you apply to college, the later you will hear back from them. Some seniors don’t know where they are accepted until as late as June of senior year, and the uncertainty of where you are going to college can be unbearably stressful and frustrating. My assistant, a former Director of Admissions at New York University, informed Kweller Prep students that some schools take as many as 50% of their incoming class from the Early Action and Early Decision pool, and as little as 8% from the regular decision contenders. You want apply to your dream school when the odds are the most in your favor, so make sure not to be a late tester, or you WILL regret it. Think about Thanksgiving, think about turkey… please don’t think about SAT.

December of Senior Year:

Oye, what a headache it is to take the SAT in December of senior year! With the holidays fast approaching, and my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, already passed, concentration is harder than ever. Not to mention all the mid-year academic demands—finals, papers, term projects. What’s worse is that the regular decision college deadlines are fast approaching (Cornell’s deadline is January 1).

The December tester not only has to worry about juggling his or her academic demands, college applications, and SAT preparedness, but also risks getting locked out from his or her top choices for college because of the fast approaching deadlines.

YES is it true that you hurt your chances of getting into your dream school by applying late. The key is to get your application out EARLY. Warn your younger friends!!!! Hundreds of thousands of students from around the country apply to college, and you have to distinguish yourself. A serious candidate applies early in the game, and college admissions officers both recognize and reward that effort. A student who takes the December SAT will not have his scores released until Christmas-time. Colleges are on winter recess and the college admissions committee meets very infrequently at that time. In short, December is not the optimal time to take the SAT.

March of Junior Year:

Take the March SAT if you are unhappy with your January SAT score and feel you can do better. Please DO NOT test after March of Junior year. If you are unhappy with your January scores, you will have ample time to register for the March SAT. We are still surrounded by chilly New York weather and you are (hopefully) less likely to go out as you would in May or June.

Furthermore, by taking the SAT in March, you are testing before the May and June masses of students, so you are less likely to be taking the SAT in a room filled with your (ever so distracting) friends and classmates. Very few students take the March administration of the SAT. You are less likely to hit traffic, the test center is less likely to be over crowded, and the scores will be released early enough for you to register again in May if needed.

This is why taking the SAT in March of Junior Year is my runner-up.

Taking the SAT in May wins third place. Stay away from senior year SAT testing, unless you absolutely have to. Even then, only take October and don’t even consider December or January. The exorbitant amount of stress of juggling everything senior year simply won’t be worth it.



Good luck navigating the ever so convoluted college admissions process!

Northwestern University Acceptance

Boston College Acceptance Letter


NYU MLK Scholarship Grant Award

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Dear Temitayo,

On behalf of the Admissions Committee and Dean Patricia Carey, Associate Vice Provost, I would like to congratulate you on your admission to the College of Arts and Science at New York University.

Let me add to this good news an invitation to join one of our most prestigious scholars programs at New York University, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholars Program. You are among a select group of students who has demonstrated a commitment to further the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through excellence in academic achievement and distinguished leadership.

Your MLK Scholarship Grant Award

Your Martin Luther King Scholarship award in the amount of $45,000 is renewable for four years of study at NYU, provided that you are in good academic standing, are meeting satisfactory academic progress standards, and are enrolled full-time. Any additional scholarship assistance will be reflected in your financial aid estimate online provided that you submitted a completed CSS PROFILE and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the required deadlines.

As an MLK Scholar, you will participate in a rich combination of weekly seminars, domestic and international travel colloquia, research, internships, educational and cultural activities, and community service. These opportunities will enhance the quality of your experiences at NYU and connect you to a network of students from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds who share a similar passion for learning and service. Most program expenses are covered, including travel colloquia. In addition, freshmen scholars, who participate in an unpaid summer internship during the summer of their first year, will receive a stipend of $3,000-$5,000 for living expenses.

Scholars’ Weekend – April 15 to April 17

We invite you to attend Scholars’ Weekend, in conjunction with Weekend on the Square, from Friday, April 15th to Sunday, April 17th. Your visit is required for membership in the MLK Scholars Program. One of our current NYU students will host you the two nights in one of our residence halls. While on campus, you will learn more about what it is like to be an NYU student. You will get to experience for yourself the vitality and excitement of our campus in Greenwich Village and New York City with other MLK Scholars.

We will cover the cost of your housing, meals, and round-trip transportation for the weekend. Although we cannot provide assistance for any guests, we welcome your family on Saturday and Sunday. We have scheduled sessions especially for parents and families, further details of which you can expect. Please do not make any travel plans as one of my colleagues will be in touch with you soon to coordinate plans to travel to NYU.

We hope that you will join us for this extraordinary opportunity to learn more about NYU and look forward to welcoming you to our community.


Shawn L. Abbott

Assistant Vice President and Dean of Admissions



The directions below are representative of what students will encounter on test day.

The essay gives you an opportunity to show how effectively you can read and comprehend a passage and write an essay analyzing the passage. In your essay, you should demonstrate that you have read the passage carefully, present a clear and logical analysis, and use language precisely.

Your essay must be written on the lines provided in your answer booklet; except for the planning page of the answer booklet, you will receive no other paper on which to write. You will have enough space if you write on every line, avoid wide margins, and keep your handwriting to a reasonable size. Remember that people who are not familiar with your handwriting will read what you write. Try to write or print so that what you are writing is legible to those readers.

You have 50 minutes to read the passage and write an essay in response to the prompt provided inside this booklet.

  1. Do not write your essay in this booklet. Only what you write on the lined pages of your answer booklet will be evaluated.
  2. An off-topic essay will not be evaluated.

The student responses provided in the following set illustrate common score combinations earned on the redesigned SAT. Each response has received a separate score for each of the three domains assessed: Reading, Analysis, and Writing. The scores are presented in order by domain directly preceding each sample essay. Scores for the samples provided below were assigned on a 1-4 scale according to the redesigned SAT Essay Scoring Rubric. It is important to note that although these are representative samples of student ability at each score point, the set itself does not exhaustively illustrate the range of skills in Reading, Analysis, and Writing associated with each score point.

Although all of the sample essays were handwritten by students, they are shown typed here for ease of reading. The essays have been typed exactly as each student wrote his or her essay, without corrections to spelling, punctuation, or paragraph breaks.

Practice using sample essay 1.

Practice using sample essay 2.

Learn more about how the essay is scored. 

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