SparkNotes Shopping Cart  |     |  Checkout
Brought to you by Barnes and Noble
Using the Proper Tone
Please Note:
The last administration of the SAT II Writing was on 1/22/05. Beginning 3/12/05, parts of the SAT II Writing test will be included in the New SAT. You should be studying the New SAT book. Go there!
Using the Proper Tone
The tone of your essay is almost as important as its grammar. The tone you adopt can dramatically affect the experience of your reader. It can confuse your reader, make her trust you, or set her teeth on edge. Your grade is dependent on the impression you make, and the tone you choose will affect that impression.
You should try to write in the voice you’d use to talk to your friend’s mom—a little formal, but comfortable and natural. Avoid a weighty academic tone, which will likely come off as false or pretentious rather than impressive. Similarly, don’t use a casual email style. Spell words formally—no lite as in Miller Lite, no b/c in place of because. Here are some other rules of tone:
Avoid Clichés
Clichés make your writing sound trite, dull, and unimaginative. You know that person who says, “Boy, it’s raining cats and dogs out there!” every single time it rains? You know how annoying that is? Don’t be that person in the essay.
Don’t Write Just to Fill Up Space
A healthy desire to make paragraphs long and impressive-sounding can lead to writing simply to fill up space. Don’t do it. It’s terribly easy to spot sentences that sound okay but don’t mean anything. Cast such sentences into outer darkness. Expunge even those little phrases that sound good but could be said in half the space, such as “in my own personal opinion.”
Mentioning Yourself
The word I shouldn’t really appear in your essay, unless you’re using a personal example. You don’t need to say, “I think in war, conventional morality loses its hold on the popular imagination,” to alert the reader that you’re one woman with one of many valid opinions. In these essays, it’s okay to act like your opinion is the only possible one. Instead of prefacing remarks with “I think,” or “In my opinion,” screw your courage to the sticking place and write, simply, “In war, conventional morality loses its hold on the popular imagination.”
Of course, directions that instruct you to use personal examples are a different matter. For those, you should trot out those great stories about your mom and your most inspiring teacher, and the word I will invariably crop up.
Help | Feedback | Make a request | Report an error | Send to a friend
Want all the necessary studying materials in one great package? Grab the AP Power Pack: Psychology to get great results—in five days!
Beat the ACT with the latest book from the experts at SparkNotes.