SAT Essays


The SAT test changed its format for its SAT essay section a few years back. You are provided a passage to read, which is almost always an excerpt from a longer article. The excerpt is approximately 650 to slightly over 700 words in length. You then have to analyze how the author uses persuasive and rhetorical techniques to support his or her claim. You are scored on how they read, analyze and organize their essay.
1. The SAT Essay section will give you a passage between 650 and 750 words which you should read carefully. You are given 50 minutes to write an essay which leaves you about 5 minutes to brainstorm your approach.

2. I encourage students to use the 5 body paragraph method, with one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs and one conclusive paragraph. The length expected is between 650 and 750 words.

3. The whole rationale for this new format is to allow students to showcase their ability to analyze the argument of a passage. You therefore need to focus on how the author uses evidence, reasoning and rhetorical elements to make his or her claim and be persuasive. In other words as you explain HOW a message is being relayed, you will use WHAT techniques and type of information have been utilized.

Feel free to find out how a strong response is written by checking out this essay


One response to “SAT Essays

  1. teacherforabetterworld

    Hi there,

    The SAT essay markers prefer specific examples rather than generalizations such as “stock analysts” or “most students”. I notice that question 2 and 3 deal more with personal choice and liberty. Using literature or history may sometimes be difficult when answering such questions. Hence feel free to think of a personal example. eg. An older relative who has had to grapple with such an issue and then describe the outcome intelligently. With the following essay topics, these are possible support example ideas –

    1. Responding quickly topic — The New Orleans flood disaster. Firstly, weeks before the flood, when the engineers were notified that some residents had noticed large amounts of water in their garden, nothing was done to bolster the levees. (Expand on this). Secondly, when the flood occurred, FEMA sent help a little too late, leading to the deaths of a number of sick and elderly residents. (Expand on this.)

    2. Obligation to think seriously topic — This question is one of those that depends on the context. When justice needs to be served and when human rights are infringed, then each individual should take time to consider the issue. You can use “To Kill A Mockingbird” — Atticus and how the majority of Maycomb failed to consider his defense and the possibility that Mayella was lying and that Tom Robinson was innocent. For your second example, try to think of an environmental issue such as your own consideration of using energy efficient devices and lightbulbs. Why? Because after watching Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”, you realized how serious an issue global warming was.

    3. Working less = Being more creative topic. Again, this depends on context. Firstly, there are many jobs that are by nature very creative such as Industrial design and even Stock Analysis. Hence one can be creative while working. Think of a real person that you can use for this argument. I often tell students to consider Steve Wozniak as he always considered computer design to be creative and never a chore. On the other hand, in today’s competitive environment, grade 10 and 11 students are not only doing school work, but also having to do A.P. subjects. This has meant that few are as fit as they were when they were in grade 8 and 9. Use a personal example like yourself as “students” is too general an example to be cited. Explain how you have neglected your own creative hobbies such as drawing or playing the piano and that your schedule doesn’t permit such luxury.

    Hope this helps. Good luck on for the SAT test.

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