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The Best SAT Essay Ever

Objective Correlatives. Steamed fish. SAT essays. Ethan Sawyer, the College Essay Guy, explains how objective correlatives, such as steamed fish, can help you write the best SAT essay ever. 

By
Ethan Sawyer, Writing for
Episode #466

The Essay, by Joseph Tsai:

          "My grandma makes the best steamed fish. She garnishes a fresh fish with ginger, fresh green onions, and a special delicious black sauce. Every time my family and I go out to Monterey Park to visit her, she has two steaming plates of tasty, tender fish waiting for us.

         It has truly become one of our family traditions. That is, until my grandpa passed away this April. My grandparents were inseparable. My grandpa took care of my grandma when he still had strength, and my grandma watched over my grandpa after he had become weak. She perfected the art of creating succulent dishes that were easy to chew and swallow—tofu, steamed egg whites, preserved vegetable porridge, and others.

       However, upon my grandpa’s passing, my grandma became an entirely different person. She entered a melancholy state of depression which lasted for weeks. We often visited her to try to comfort her, but those steaming plates of fish no longer awaited us. She would no longer leave her house to play mah-jongg with her friends. She began to sleep on my grandpa’s side of the bed. When we went out to eat, she would usually just sit silently, only speaking when spoken to, answering with responses as short as possible.

          Then one day when we were at Monterey Park, my dad brought back live crabs. We cooked them and began to eat them, but decided the crab meat would be better with some sauce. My mom mixed some soy sauce with chili sauce and brought it back to the table. My grandma tasted it, and without a word, took the sauce back to the kitchen. I heard furious chopping for half a minute and she came back with the sauce which looked entirely different. She added minced garlic, some chopped basil, hot peppers, and sesame oil. It blended perfectly with the crab. We all praised my grandma and soon the sauce was all gone. She smiled, went to the kitchen, and came back a few minutes later with more sauce. Soon, we finished all the crab at a record-breaking pace, and flooded my grandma with more compliments. Afterwards, I went out to play basketball at a local park with my brother. After a couple hours of playing, we headed back exhausted. As I walked in, I could make out the unmistakable aroma of my grandma’s fish."

But the million dollar question is:

How can this help you write an amazing essay, either for the SAT or your personal statement for college?

Click here to view a PDF of the essay with all my notes and analysis, including 10 tips for using objective correlatives in your own writing. 

About the Author

Ethan Sawyer has been helping students tell their stories for more than ten years and is the author of the Amazon bestseller College Essay Essentials, the #1 book on college essays. He has reached thousands of students and counselors through his webinars and workshops and has become a nationally recognized college essay expert and sought-after speaker. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, received an MFA from UC–Irvine, and is an active member of NACAC, WACAC, SACAC, OACAC, HECA and IECA (feel free to Google those) and lives with his wife and daughter in Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.collegeessayguy.com.

Essay image courtesy of Shutterstock

Lord of the Rings image courtesy of Shutterstock

Blue Rose Under Glass image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Steamed Fish image courtesy of Shutterstock.

 

 

Ethan Sawyer has been helping students tell their stories for more than ten years and is the author of the Amazon bestseller College Essay Essentials, the #1 book on college essays. He has reached thousands of students and counselors through his webinars and workshops and has become a nationally recognized college essay expert and sought-after speaker. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, received an MFA from UC–Irvine, and is an active member of NACAC, WACAC, SACAC, OACAC, HECA and IECA (feel free to Google those) and lives with his wife and daughter in Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.collegeessayguy.com.

 

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About the Author

Ethan Sawyer, Writing for Grammar Girl
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