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Learn from Terri of Prepped and Polished, as she shares six key traits of good SSAT writing to produce a winning essay.

Today I’m gonna tell you what you need to know about writing the SSAT writing sample in the form of an essay. You know, even though the essay is not scored, it gives schools an overall impression of your level of maturity and your power of self-expression.

I realized the importance of the essay through a personal experience. I accompanied my son to a gathering of students admitted to a particular independent school. And one of the admission’s counselors came over to him and said, “We loved your essay. You’re just the kind of student we want in our school.”

Well, not only was that nice to overhear, but it was enlightening in terms of the power of the essay. So, how do you write a winning essay with prompts like, “My fondest memory is…” “Do we learn more from our mistakes than our successes?” “Did a parent tell you to do something that you now wish you had done?” Don’t we all?

Let me show you from my years of reading samples. I’m gonna share some of my best suggestions with you. Let’s take a look.

So, here are basically six traits of good writing. And if you incorporate these into your essay, you can’t help but produce a winning sample. So, let’s go over them quickly.


You wanna brainstorm first before you start writing and kinda get a clear idea of what you’d like to write about. Bcause you wanna write meaningful details and examples, you wanna have fully-developed thoughts and definitely stick to the topic. That’s very important.


You should make an outline prior to writing the essay. You can use bullets. It’s just for you to see. But then you won’t get stuck in the middle and not know where you’re going with your essay, because you want a logical pattern of ideas, details, and strive for at least three paragraphs. You wanna have paragraphs.


Voice is really all about bringing the topic to life, and this is very important. Does it sound like you? Because I’ve read many essays where it just didn’t sound like a student I was tutoring. They were trying to make it too lofty, or throw in too many words that didn’t sound like themself. You wanna show your feelings and convictions, and it should be appropriate for the audience, topic and purpose.

Need a tutor? At Prepped and Polished, we provide personalized tutoring locally in Massachusetts, throughout the USA and around the world. Start a conversation with us on our website via chat, call us at +1.781.753.9951 or send us a message on our contact page today.

Sentence fluency

Sentence fluency is all about rhythm and flow. Sentences should begin in different ways. Some should be short. Some should be long. It should be smooth.

Word choice

You know, you wanna try…you don’t wanna overdo it, but you do wanna put in some rich colorful vocabulary, minimal redundancy. In other words, don’t repeat words over and over, and to just be precise, interesting, and natural. But you don’t want it to be too informal. It is an essay.


That’s the mechanics such as spelling, paragraphing, grammar usage, punctuation, use of capitals. All that’s important, and you wanna leave a few minutes at the end to proofread and correct your errors neatly. Presentation is important. It has to be legible.

So, here’s a tip for you. Read newspaper editorials and you’ll see how good writers argue their opinions, organize their thoughts, and use good examples. Now you know how to produce a winning SSAT writing sample.

If you enjoyed these tips today, give us a thumbs-up and subscribe to our channel. If you have any questions or you want more in-depth tutoring either online or in person, simply email and we’ll be glad to help you. Good luck.

The Top 6 SSAT Writing Tips:

  1. IdeasBrainstorm, meaningful details, examples, fully developed thoughts, stick to topic.
  2. OrganizationOutline, logical pattern of ideas, details, 3 paragraphs
  3. Voice: Brings topic to life. DOES IT SOUND LIKE YOU? Feelings, convictions. Appropriate for audience, topic, purpose.
  4. Sentence Fluency: Rhythm and flow. Sentences – bring in different ways, short and long, smooth
  5. Word Choice: rich, colorful vocabulary, minimal redundancy, precise, interesting, natural. NOT TOO INFORMAL
  6. Conventions: mechanics – spelling, paragraphing, grammar, punctuation, use of capitals. Proofread and correct errors neatly.

Bonus Tip:

Your writing should ALWAYS be legible!

What was your biggest takeaway from this video tutorial about six traits of good writing to produce a winning SSAT essay? Do you have any questions for Terri and Alexis Avila?

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Published On: May 31st, 2018By Categories: Featured, SSATTags: , , , , ,

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