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Homepage Home > Professional Development > Workshops & Summer Institutes > SAT® Workshops for Teachers > Writing Preparation for Educators of ESL/ELL Students

Writing Preparation for Educators of ESL/ELL Students

This workshop helps teachers prepare students who have recently exited ESL/ELL classes for the writing section of the SAT by using models and hands-on exercises. Teachers will learn:

  • Ways to help culturally and linguistically diverse populations approach the SAT writing section
  • Strategies to motivate, empower, and encourage students to face the SAT writing section with confidence
  • How to reflect on their own teaching practices through activities and group discussions

SAT Workshop Schedule

Workshop Goals

  • Affirm the belief that ELL students can identify the critical thinking skills and use the strategies needed to write an effective argumentative essay
  • Affirm the belief that ELL students can develop an English voice and succeed in writing convincing, well-organized essays under time constraints by using process-writing strategies in classroom activities to develop and organize evidence that supports a point of view in response to a prompt
  • Guide teachers to adapt quotes and prompts to provide scaffolding activities for novice and intermediate ELL students
  • Provide teachers with strategies, such as working with context clues, for ELL students to read and analyze the SAT
  • Provide educators with strategies to teach students to understand and use the holistic SAT Scoring Guide to assess their own essays through peer editing in small cooperative groups
  • Provide practice with sample multiple-choice items: identifying sentence errors, improving sentences, and improving paragraphs
  • Provide ESL teachers with models and hands-on experience in creating lessons that prepare students to meet high expectations on the SAT writing section
  • Provide ample opportunities in every activity for participants to reflect on their own teaching practices and the value of guided reflection as an instructional tool for students to assess what is expected of them in the SAT writing section


  • Introductions, Miniactivity

Part A: Overview of the SAT

In this segment, participants will receive information related to the SAT, including:

  • The rationale for a new test and its components
  • How students sign up and request fee waivers
  • What information to share with parents
  • Items on the College Board website
  • Why students should take the PSAT/NMSQT
  • Pre-AP workshops available for teachers
  • AP courses and other curriculum choices that can help students gain knowledge

Part B: Icebreaker and the Essay Component of the SAT Writing Section

Teachers often better understand their students' thought processes through experiencing the task themselves. In this opening activity, participants will write their own responses to an authentic SAT essay question within the time limit that their students will have. Then volunteers will share their responses as participants study the holistic SAT Scoring Guide and apply it to the samples.

Activity 1: Applying the Scoring Guide to Authentic ELL Students

This first activity will provide participants with the opportunity to become familiar with the expectations set for all students by the SAT Scoring Guide and to evaluate authentic ELL students' responses using this holistic guide. The participants will discuss strategies to guide their students in identifying the presence or absence of critical and analytical skills, as well as in recognizing techniques for improving a mid- or low-scoring exemplar.

Activity 2: Reading and Understanding the Essay Component of the SAT

Participants will find opportunities to review reading strategies useful to ELL students for breaking down the writing task into understandable segments. The collaborative learning model activity for students includes developing process reading strategies and planning a response with process writing techniques in the classroom to build confidence for achieving success in writing timed essays.


Activity 3: Developing an English Voice—Studying Good Models

All students are expected to write effective writing samples for the SAT. Participants will discuss and compile a list of strategies and characteristics to help ELL students understand standard academic English essay organization through studying high-scoring exemplars. In this activity, participants will identify key components of the SAT Scoring Guide and compile writing strategies to help students meet these organizational criteria. They will explore methods of building evidence to support a point of view. Participants will also focus on including a variety of sentence structures and self-editing techniques.

Activity 4: The SAT Writing Section Multiple-Choice Items

Because a major portion of the writing section consists of multiple-choice items, participants will work with sample questions from the three categories: identifying sentence errors, improving sentences, and improving paragraphs. By focusing on appropriate language usage, they will work to identify strategies to ensure success for ELL students on this portion of the test.

Activity 5: Implementing Writing Practice for the SAT in the Classroom

In groups, participants will have the opportunity to work with other colleagues to adapt and create essay assignments for classroom instruction suited to their own students' needs. Participants will create their own prompts and then adapt them to the needs of novice and intermediate ELL students. They will also discuss a portfolio based on selected criteria and write questions for their students' journals.

Workshop Authors

Marian Newland is a Spanish instructor at R. L. Paschal High School in Fort Worth, Texas.

Gilda Nissenberg teaches AP Spanish Language and Literature at Dr. M. Krop High School in Miami, Florida. She holds a Ph.D. in Spanish, has served on the Spanish SAT II (formerly called the SAT II) committee, and is a Table Leader at the AP Exam Reading. She teaches AP summer institutes in Florida and New York and is a National Board Certified Teacher in Spanish.

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To register for AP Teacher Workshops, visit AP Central: Professional Development Workshops and Institutes

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