Unfortunately, I was dealing with a severe case of jetlag after returning from a 2-week visit to Vietnam.
They're like treasure hunters, looking to find only the goooood stuff that's gonna get you your high numbers.
Don't make your job hard for them, and don't make it harder for yourself.
The SAT Graders spend hours and hours in single sittings flipping through these essays.
(I heard they live in dungeons and are always grouchy because they run on three hours of sleep with no morning coffee) Most likely they aren't going to spend any more than 3-4 minutes per essay TOPS.
Note: This post was originally written in 2016 when the current format of the SAT was introduced.
I've now fully updated it for 2018 and beyond to reflect all the tweaks The College Board has made to the SAT since the original post. As a teacher and an author of test prep books, I make it my job to see any changes to the test firsthand.
Then when you think you've exhausted every resource you have, redo all the practice tests.
I guarantee you'll still get stuff wrong that you think you reviewed thoroughly the first time. Covering those loose ends is where the real learning happens.
Every essay will always ask for the same exact topic: which is to explain how the author uses features to strengthen his/her argument.
So by features, the SAT is referring to stylistic writing strategies that the author uses. A majority of test-takers who aren't able to reach top scores are unable to do so primarily because they are approaching this essay more focused on re-telling the content and offering "deep" commentary like a standard English class essay.