Structuring Your Standard Essay for the ISEE or SSAT

The key to structuring your standard essay for the ISEE or SSAT is to ensure you have the proper format. Here’s the general format for a successful standard essay:

Introduction
Sentence 1: Thesis/Answering the question
Sentence 2: Introduce your first supporting paragraph (what you’re going to say in the second paragraph)
Sentence 3: Introduce your second supporting paragraph (what you’re going to say in the third paragraph)
Sentence 4: Sum up your ideas and transition into the next paragraph

First supporting paragraph
Sentence 1: Topic sentence, introducing your idea
Sentence 2: Detail backing up your idea
Sentence 3: Detail backing up your idea (either another idea, or expanding on your first idea)
Sentence 4: Sum up your ideas and transition into the next paragraph

Second supporting paragraph
Sentence 1: Topic sentence, introducing your idea
Sentence 2: Detail backing up your idea
Sentence 3: Detail backing up your idea (either another idea, or expanding on your first idea)
Sentence 4: Sum up your ideas and transition into the next paragraph

Conclusion
Sentence 1: Restate your topic sentence, but reword it slightly
Sentence 2: Mention again the idea in your first supporting paragraph
Sentence 3: Mention again the idea in your second supporting paragraph
Sentence 4: Summarize your ideas and leave the reader with your final thoughts 

Sample Standard Essay Response

Of the books you have read in the past year, which one made the biggest impression on you and why?

This year I read The Giver by Lois Lowry and it made a big impression on me because like Jonas, I don’t always agree with all the rules that I have to follow. At school, we don’t get to choose when we eat lunch. Also, I’m too young to work, so I have to rely on my parents for money. I could relate to Jonas because he has very little control over many parts of his life and I bet he wishes he had more choices. 

Just like in The Giver, when Jonas had to do whatever the community said and everyone’s schedule was laid out for them, in my school we don’t get to choose when we have lunch. This means that sometimes we have to eat when we’re not hungry or wait to eat even when we’re starving, and this can make it hard to focus in class. I think it’s frustrating because we should have more control over taking care of our own needs, rather than having the people in charge make these decisions for us. I think that as we grow up, we should have more opportunities to make our own choices and prove that we understand what we need. 

Jonas does not get to decide what he owns, because the community makes those choices for him, and I have the same problem because I’m too young to work. I wish I had an opportunity to make my own money so I would not be reliant on my parents. I think it’s important for kids to have a way to make their own money so they can learn how to make good choices for themselves as they grow up. I look forward to being able to get a job and prove that I know how to take care of myself and do not need everyone to make all those choices for me.

After reading The Giver, I related to how Jonas felt in his community, because he didn’t get to make his own choices. I wish I had more control over when I could eat lunch so I could eat when I need to and could then focus better in school. I also wish I could make my own money so I could decide what I need and get it myself. It’s great to read a book that has characters I can relate to, and also show a world that in some ways mirrors my own. 

How to Improve Standard Essay Writing

  • Make sure you have in mind what the two supporting paragraphs will be before you start your introduction. If you don’t know what your essay is going to be about before you start writing, your introduction will be unclear and unfocused. 
  • Avoid elaborating too extensively on background information. If you are writing about a character in a book, you do not need to include the entire plot. Just include what is necessary to prove your thesis. 
  • Make sure if you are using a book, you underline the title and include the author. If you are writing about a movie or a play you can put the title in quotation marks. Also, make sure you know the name of at least the main character if you choose to write about a book, because it will not look good if you have to refer to him or her as “the main guy,” etc. 

When writing a standard essay, your task is to come up with a thesis that answers the question, and then two supporting paragraphs, each its own idea, that back up your thesis clearly. Follow the standard essay format above to structure your writing for the best results. Schools want to make sure that you have developed each of your paragraphs in a clear and organized way, used interesting vocabulary choices, and varied your sentence structure. Schools are not looking for a perfectly polished essay, but they do want to see that you know how to structure your writing into the format described above, and that you can develop your ideas in a clear and cohesive way.

Our ISEE/SSAT test prep program is customized to address each child’s individual strengths and weaknesses, and we will develop a customized preparation plan to arm your child with powerful and up-to-date strategies for all sections of the test.

Click here to learn more about our ISEE/SSAT test prep programs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.