It seems like every student has heard of the advice to fill up the full two pages on the SAT essay. Yes, filling up two pages is the way to a higher score, but not if it’s done by writing with big letters and big spaces.
I was recently asked by a reader of the blog why his essay (pictured below) received an 8. I could tell what the problem was even from a bird’s eye view (The prompt: Is listening more important than speaking when you are trying to persuade others?).
The word count in this essay is 356. The word count in what The College Board considers a 12 essay is 406.
A difference of 50 words is an entire paragraph.
Putting huge spaces between words doesn’t impress the graders; it comes off as exactly what it is—an attempt to fill up space. To get a 12, add more detail, not blank space. Write fast, but small.