School lectures. Television shows. Novels. Hanging out with your friends. None of these things should be boring, and people try really hard to make that the case. Sure, you may disagree that your math teacher describing the derivative of sine is not the most interesting part of your day, but give him or her credit for at least trying. And well, TV shows and novels always try to impress. But how do they do it? The key is variety within the consistency.
Let’s think about variety as an idea first, and then apply it to the SAT. Variety means that you do something different but maybe not so different that it completely changes the routine. For example, your favorite TV shows have the same characters and setting, but the scenarios can change or the villains can change. Same thing for hanging out with your friends. You (hopefully!) don’t play Candy Crush on your smartphones every day after school; you play sports or instruments; you go to the movies or hang out at the mall. You still see the same people, but you do different activities to keep things interesting.
Your SAT Essay is no different. Well, it definitely isn’t going to text you emojis of pizza at 2AM when you are feeling sad, but it will at least make you feel happy when you ace the test. And you need to vary your sentence structure to do so. Here is a case in point: imagine you wrote a paragraph that was all simple sentences, like “Romeo meets Juliet at night. They fall in love very quickly. Then they come up with a plan to get married. After that, they follow through with the plan. Yet, there is one problem. Romeo doesn’t know that Juliet plans to fake her death.” Now, this is an extreme example, but the idea is that you need to mix in simple sentences (ones independent clause) with compound sentences (two independent clauses), complex sentences (one independent clause and one dependent clause), and compound complex sentences (two independent clauses and multiple dependent clauses). The variety of sentence structures will add sophistication to your essay and make it less tedious.
By making this simple change, your essay score can increase at least one point. Readers won’t immediately think about whether or not you varied your sentence structure, but the effect will leave an impression on their overall experience. Often times, after finishing the first paragraph, the reader has a pretty good idea of the essay score. This happens because they use details like sentence structure and vocabulary usage as a way to predict the overall quality of your examples and explanations.
Just like anything that’s great in life, the essay needs that extra spice, that wonderful touch, that little bit of variety to make it standout.
(image credit: "The Passion of Creation"; commons.wikimedia.org)