SAT Prep – Is "Alright" All Right?

On the SAT essay, is it acceptable to use the word alright?

The short answer is: No. Alright is all wrong. Use the two-word form, all right.

However, this requires a bit of explanation. Alright is now widely used, particularly in informal settings such as blogs, emails, text messages, instant messages, tweets, and even some classrooms. Many well-known writers, including James Joyce and Langston Hughes, have used it in literature. It is ubiquitous in written dialog and, sadly, in student papers.

In fact, according to Merriam-Webster Online, the single word alright has been in use since 1887.

The two-word phrase all right was used more than five hundred years ago, spelled al right by Chaucer around the year 1385. The word fell out of favor, then returned to common usage later, when Percy Bysshe Shelley employed it in Scenes from Goethe’s Faust.

In any case, all right is the much older form. It remains the standard for use in formal writing today. Alright should be used, if at all, only in informal writing.

Whenever you write, it is important to keep your audience in mind. When you compose your SAT essay, you are writing for a group of scorers who are, for the most part, English teachers and grammarians. I myself look askance at alright in formal – and even informal – writing. Your SAT scorer is likely to do the same. Students who don’t understand the difference between formal and informal writing risk losing crucial points once that number two pencil hits the paper.

Why take chances? Stick to formal writing on the SAT. All right?

For more information on studying for the SAT, read How to Succeed with SAT Test Preparation

The SAT – What to Expect

The SAT Reasoning Test is a standardized test used for college admissions. It was formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the SAT I. Published by the College Board, a non-profit organization, the SAT is administered seven times a year. Currently, SAT scores range from 600 to 2400, and the test is divided into three equally weighted sections: critical reading, mathematics, and writing. Understanding the material that will be on the test and how it is laid out is critical to your success. You may want to consider taking a SAT practice test or a SAT prep class to make sure you do well.

In the critical reading section, formerly known as the verbal section, you will be expected to answer multiple-choice questions designed to test your vocabulary and reading comprehension. There are two types of questions: sentence completion and those based on reading passages. Sentence completion questions ask the test-taker to select an appropriate word to complete a sentence. The reading passages are varied in nature; they range from narratives to passages from the social sciences. Questions about the passages test the student’s ability to identify the important aspects of the passage. There is another form of this type of question where the student is asked to compare two shorter passages and answer questions about them.

The math section includes both multiple-choice questions and grid-in, or fill-in-the-blank, questions. Calculators are permitted, but not all calculators are allowed. This section tests on a variety of topics, including, but not only, basic number theory, geometry, and algebra. There are ten grid-in questions which require you to write and bubble in your answer.

Finally, the writing section is comprised of an essay and multiple-choice questions. The essay, which makes up 28% of the writing score, is scored by two graders on a scale of 2 to 12. You are given a prompt, or a subject, to write the essay. Multiple-choice questions in the writing section test your ability to identify sentence errors and edit writing.

Another important aspect of the SAT is time limits. Overall, you have 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the SAT. The SAT format is as follows. There are two 25-minute and one 20-minute critical reading sections; all critical reading sections are multiple-choice. The writing section consists of one 25-minute essay and two multiple-choice sections, one 25 minutes long, the other 10 minutes long. The mathematics portion is comprised of two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section. There is also a 25-minute “variable section” which is used to normalize scores. Being aware of the time limits is critical to succeeding on the SAT.

Taken together, all of these factors make the SAT stressful and intimidating. Often, SAT prep courses are a good way to help you prepare for the rigors of the exam. There are many options available–online and in person. Online SAT prep courses offer flexibility and the ability to retake sections you have difficulty with. In-person SAT prep classes or tutoring offer structure and a classroom environment, which some people prefer. No matter what you choose, make sure your course offers a score increase guarantee and uses official College Board SAT practice exams so you can make the most of your investment.

Spanish Essay Phrases

It is very useful to learn and memorise useful phrases for writing Spanish essays – this is probably the easiest way to improve your essays and hence your marks as a Spanish beginner.

This article is a collection of Spanish phrases to firstly help you start and conclude a Spanish essay; secondly how to present themes and argue points, and finally contains a range of connectives to make a Spanish essay flow more naturally.

The first sentence…
Voy a discutir acerca del tema de…
Voy a hablar sobre…
Voy a discutir

Introducing your opening argument…
Para empezar – to begin with
Al principio – at the start
En primer lugar – to begin with

Introducing new themes and arguments…
Para continuar – to continue
Para ilustrar… – to illustrate…

Concluding the essay…
Por fin – in short
Finalmente – finally
Para concluir – to conclude
En conclusión – in conclusion
Para terminar – to finish
En resumen – in summary

Presenting an argument…
Por un lado – on the one hand
Por otro lado – on the other hand
En cambio – in contrast
Por otra parte – on the other hand
Hay que tomar en cuenta – you have to take into account

Indicating time…
Durante – during
Mientras – while
Mientras tanto – meanwhile
Despues de infinitive – after
Antes de infinitive – before
Luego – then
Entonces – then

Because / as a result of…
A causa de – because
Como consecuencia de – as a consequence of
Debido a – due to
Porque – because
Como resultado – as a result

Spanish connectives and conjunctions…
Además – in addition, moreover
También – also
Sin embargo – however
A pesar de – in spite of
Así (que) – so
Aunque – although
Sino que – but
Pero – but
Por ejemplo – for example

Common subjunctive triggers…
Es probable que
Es necesario que
No creo que
Dudo que
Aconsejo que
Espero que
Quiero que

Presenting opinions (no subjunctive)
Creo que – I believe/ think
Pienso que – I think
Opino que – In my opinion
En mi opinión – in my opinion
Afotunadamente – fortunately
Desafortunadamente – unfortunately
Me parece que – it seems to me

Por eso – therefore
Por lo tanto – therefore
Por consiguiente – therefore
Asi – so

Other useful Spanish words / phrases
Todavía – still
Ya – already / now
Apenas – scarcely (casi no)
En realidad – in reality
Actualmente – currently
Ahora mismo – right now
En seguida – immediately
Hoy en día – nowadays

The most… is that

Lo mejor es que
Lo malo es que
Lo importante es que

Common uses of the imperfect subjunctive in Spanish
Si tuviera… – if I had… (notes: this should be followed by a verb in the conditional tense)
Si fuera… – if I was… (as above)

I hope this collection of Spanish phrases is useful for you Spanish writing – please visit for more useful Spanish resources like this one.

Predestination and Free Will by John Calvin – a Satirical Synopsis

Briefly, the essay on predestination and free will by Calvin discusses the preordaining and predetermination of events discussing an incorrigible helplessness towards fate on one hand, and on the other, it demurs the first by discussing ‘free will’, where fate is rendered incorrigibly helpless towards man’s ordaining and determination of events. Calvin propounds the elaborate motif of the choice concerned where the repercussions of one may lead to apathy and the other, to willful sin. There’s evident and sufficient bias elicited by Calvin for predestination, rendering it a favorite. He deters curiosity, criticism, censure and cynicism, and deters it so, that a detractor in the vaguest of attempts shall be reduced to be but contradicting and impugning a religion and not a man, in this case, good old Johnny Calvin.

However, the part indented for a critic’s vindication, is that the essay is not without its flaws. Henceforth, we shall discuss the petty, non-descript ones, for the extraordinary are but too redundantly common to the eye.

To begin with, Calvin has a funny way of presentation, sometimes diverging to metrical verse encumbering the critic with a priority towards scansion (destitute of all rectitude; I am teaching no novel doctrine, but what was long ago advanced by Augustine), and sometimes shifting to a blasé formula of infantile prose (abyss of ignominy), scattered ant-like over the essay in an observable abundance. The process of ‘blaming’ God or speaking on behalf of him commences quite early in the essay (… that his happiness consisted not in any goodness of his own, but in a participation of God). Calvin also crosses over to the disdainful extreme of openly advocating plagiarism, admitting his very own attempt at it (… I am teaching no novel doctrine, but what was long ago advanced by Augustine).

Something need be said on the method and the manner of the essay. Calvin seems to emit personality in the essay, and capitalizes particularly on the one trait of absolute laziness and ennui as he thoroughly gives reasons why writing the essay is a waste of time, for he seems to conclude before he makes even an attempt at making it manifest. (it has now, I apprehend, been sufficiently proved that man is so enslaved… we have also laid down a distinction… from these passages, the reader clearly perceives… it is evidently the result of the… with this similitude, as no better occurs, we will at present be content).

Calvin delves further, now adamant on sponsoring a political agenda in heaven which, as Calvin would find convenient, is biased and God is simply being utterly explicit about it (God’s eternal election: if it be evidently the result of the divine that salvation is freely offered to some and others are prevented from attaining it). The commercial purpose of the essay has been given a due nod as Calvin finally introduces suspense, thrill and the scent of mystery (the discussion of predestination, a subject in itself rather intricate is made perplexed, and therefore dangerous, by human curiosity).

I personally feel that the following bracketed lines need no investigating satire and are accurate evidences of why a satire need be aimed, at all (‘At this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise, grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise, work is no more work’).

Alas, one may perhaps read Calvin’s essay only to unearth the grave disappointment of the dilemma that though God is surely prejudiced, we may never know what the prejudice is towards, i.e., whether Christ is a racist, sexist, feminist or perhaps the worst of all, a Calvinist. (They are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestinated either to life or death).

The SAT is Six Weeks Away – Commence Hyperventilation

Take a huge, deep breath, and then exhale as quickly as possible. Then, repeat the process until you feel lightheaded and fall over. Then, you’ll hit your head and form a blood clot in your brain. Then, you’ll miraculously transform into a megasavant, like the Rain Man. Then, you’ll get a 10,000 on your SAT. Then you’ll die. And then, in a few years, a Jonas brother will win an Oscar for starring in a movie about your life.

Actually, that’s probably not going to happen, so, you know, don’t do that. Instead, read these tips!

TIP #1: Self-diagnosis
Take a practice test from the College Board’s website and make some self-evaluations. Make sure the test is timed, and try to reasonably emulate test day conditions by taking the test in a quiet room with no distractions. The goal here is to get an idea of where you stand and which sections need the most work.

TIP #2: The Write Stuff. Haha!
But seriously, the essay portion counts for almost a third of your total writing score, so yeah, it’s, like, pretty important and stuff. Remember, the essay on the SAT is all about taking a position and supporting it with a strong thesis and clear body paragraphs. Make your point and prop it up with examples and evidence. Be decisive! Just pick a side and go with it. You’re not a politician yet, so don’t be a flip-flopper. Changing your mind halfway through your essay is a terrible idea that will cost you not only in time but in score as well. Practice writing essays with a timer to get a good feel for how quickly you need to write. Obviously, 25 minutes isn’t enough time to craft together your own War and Peace, but if it’s not at least better than Twilight…well, maybe you can raise your score some other way.

TIP #3: Practice Makes Prepared
If you ever get a fortune cookie that says, “Practice makes perfect,” throw it away. First of all, that was a proverb cookie, and they’re nowhere as good. Second, “practice makes perfect” is misleading. Raise your hand if you’ve ever spent weeks practicing perfectly for a piano recital but then get so nervous onstage that you pee yourself and then have a nervous breakdown, ripping out all your hair and cursing at the 8 year-olds in the front row. Well, while I put my hand down, think about this: if you want to practice until you’re perfect, why not just do the same SAT section over and over again until you get it perfect every time? Because that would be pointless. Practicing with the mindset of “practice makes perfect” isn’t necessarily wrong, but it could blind you to the real benefit of practice — being prepared. What you want is to expose yourself to as many different question types as possible so that come test day, nothing on the SAT will surprise you. What you want is to inoculate yourself against the pressures of a timed exam by taking timed practice tests. What you want is to be prepared for anything the SAT might throw at you so you can catch it, set it on fire, and throw it back in its face, cackling like a wild hyena being tickled by an feathered octopus…or whatever.

TIP #4: Take a Class…Somewhere
Everything you need to know for the SAT you learned in school. But everything you learned in school is a lot. The great big secret behind SAT prep isn’t necessarily teaching you even more stuff — it’s showing you which stuff you already know is the important stuff. Imagine for a moment that the SAT is an open-book test. How would you know what to bring? If you really wanted to cover all your bases, you’d want to bring every single textbook you’ve ever used in school, right? But that’s, like, a lot of stuff. A proper SAT prep program (wink, nudge) will help you toss out the books you don’t need and put sticky tabs on the important chapters so that you can quickly and easily refer to them for the test. Don’t drown yourself in a sea of irrelevant knowledge. That will only confuse you and slow you down on test day. You’ve got six weeks before your test. If you take a class now, you’ll finish a week before your test. On the big day, everything will be fresh in your mind, and you can face down that beast like a boss. Yeah, like a boss. Alternatively, if you don’t want to take a class or get a tutor, don’t forget that your favorite test prep center sells a solutions manual to College Board’s The Official SAT Study Guide (2nd Edition) to help you better understand every question!

TIP #5: Research
Do some research on the colleges to which you plan on applying, and find out what their policies are regarding score reports. Many schools like to help students out by using a “superscore,” which is the combination of all your highest scores on each section. If you know that your schools help you out like this, it can take some of the pressure off. On the other hand, if your school doesn’t take a superscore, keep in mind that the College Board now offers “Score Choice,” which allows you to choose which scores you want to send to colleges. Again, knowing this can take the pressure off a bit. You’re welcome.