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

The short answer is no. OK it’s all wrong Use the two-word form, Alright.

However, this requires a bit of explanation. OK It 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 dialogue and, sadly, in student papers.

In fact, according to Merriam-Webster Online, the very word Well It has been in use since 1887.

the two word phrase Alright was used more than five hundred years ago, written Alright by Chaucer around the year 1385. The word fell out of favour, then returned to common use later, when Percy Bysshe Shelley employed it in Scenes from Goethe’s Faust.

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

Whenever you write, it’s important to keep your audience in mind. When she writes her SAT essay, she is writing for a group of testers who are mostly English teachers and grammarians. I look askance myself Well in formal, and even informal writing. Your SAT scorer will likely do the same. Students who don’t understand the difference between formal and informal writing risk missing crucial points once the number two pencil hits the paper.

Why take risks? Stick to formal writing on the SAT. Alright?

To learn more about studying for the SAT, read How to Succeed with SAT Prep