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SAT Essay Prompts: Guide, How to Write, and Examples

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Written by
Dr. Alex Freedman
  • Icon Calendar 18 May 2024
  • Icon Page 4940 words
  • Icon Clock 23 min read

The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is a standard requirement of college applications in America. Basically, an SAT essay is the only optional element of the SAT. Also, this essay does not fall into any of the common categories of essays. Then, SAT essay prompts ask examines to analyze the persuasive strategy of a preselected argumentative text. Hence, this guide begins with a detailed definition of the SAT essay and its significance to the test takers. Further on, the manual discusses the grading rubric and highlights strategies for increasing one’s SAT essay score. Next, the guide presents a critical analysis of the past SAT essay, which includes an overview, expectations, writing process, and assessment breakdown. As a result, the manual concludes with an outline and SAT essay corresponding to a newly designed essay task. In turn, students need to learn how to write the SAT essay.

Guide on How to Write an SAT Essay

Over the years, the college admission process has become quite complicated. Basically, the SAT exam is a common requirement for admission into most colleges in the United States. In this case, an SAT essay is one of the tests in the SAT exam, which students may decide to complete. Moreover, this form of essay writing differs from the standard essay types. Consequently, it is vital for individuals who are planning to take the SAT essay test to prepare adequately and internalize this unique form of essay writing. Therefore, this manual provides students with detailed explanations concerning the SAT essay with a focus on the writing style, scoring rubric, and best practices for attaining high scores in the SAT essay.

Definition of the SAT Essay

The SAT essay is one of the parts of the SAT exam, which students complete after answering all the multiple-choice sections of the test. In this case, an SAT essay requires authors to develop a response to SAT essay prompts by using a single text as the source of supporting evidence. Basically, the SAT essay section contains only one essay prompt and a single source text. Moreover, SAT essay source texts and prompts may differ extensively. Nevertheless, the underlying expectation that applicants demonstrate an understanding of the inner workings of the source’s argument is constant for all SAT essays. In turn, test takers have 50 minutes to complete the SAT essay, which places some constraint on the length of the essay. Thus, an SAT essay is a means for evaluating a student’s critical thinking and writing skills.

SAT essay prompts

Target Group of SAT Essay Prompts

The College Board developed the SAT essay is an optional test for college applicants. For example, many universities require applicants to take SAT essay prompts and share their SAT essay score reports as part of the college application. In this case, the SAT essay test is not a mandatory SAT section for all colleges, which explains its optional status. Then, colleges encourage applicants to complete the SAT essay because it provides additional information that the admissions office may use to determine the college readiness of an individual. Moreover, the College Board releases a schedule that identifies seven test dates in different months when an interested party can take the SAT exam. Typically, all test dates fall on Saturday because most examinees are high school goers, which makes the avoidance of conflict between the regular school program and SAT a priority.

Value of Getting the SAT Essay Score

College applicants that take the SAT essay have a unique opportunity to show the admissions officer the level of their reading, analysis, and writing skills. For instance, an SAT essay prompt is a standardized test that college admission officers use as one of the comparative dimensions. Basically, it enables them to select the best candidates to join colleges from thousands of applications. In particular, completing the SAT essay increases the number of colleges that an individual may send applications. Also, it is because some colleges have the SAT essay as a mandatory requirement for successful admission. Furthermore, the SAT essay enables authors to sharpen tested skills by studying and practicing for the paper. Developing an individual’s capability to critically read, analyze, and respond in writing to a prompt is invaluable because these skills are applicable in other activities, for instance, writing the college admission essay.

Grading System on SAT Essay Prompts

1. Overview

The SAT essay grading system uses a structure that reflects the three skills that the paper examines in the test taker. Basically, the SAT essay score comprises of three distinct figures that correspond to the targeted skills: reading, analysis, and writing. In each category, markers can provide a score: 1 (inadequate), 2 (partial), 3 (proficient), or 4 (advanced). In this case, the SAT essay score of the individual targeted skill exists separately. Moreover, admission officers interpret the SAT essay score in their raw form without combining them to form a single total score. In turn, it is worth noting that two raters assess the SAT essay. As a result, students receive three sets of scores for the SAT essay: first marker’s scores, second marker’s scores, an overall score that adds the scores of the two markers while for individual targeted skills.

2. Reading Skills

This dimension of the SAT essay score demonstrates an individual’s reading skills by examining the text for particular cues that are useful in gauging one’s ability to read a reasonably complex text. In this case, the marker looks for evidence that the examinee is able to comprehend the source text. Explicitly, markers ascertain that the response:

  • identifies the central ideas;
  • distinguishes the most significant details of the text and their interrelationships;
  • excludes any of factual or interpretational errors of the source text; and
  • consists of quotations or paraphrases that the author employs appropriately as textual evidence.

Depending on the response’s ability to achieve the four cues, the maker determines an appropriate score for the reading dimension of the SAT exam essay score.

3. Analysis of SAT Essay Prompts

The analysis dimension of the SAT essay evaluates an examinee’s ability to deconstruct the source text’s argument and explain the role of the individual parts in developing the argument. Basically, there are four primary marking considerations for rating the response for the analysis dimension:

  • Provision of a thoughtful analysis that corresponds to the analytical demands of the essay prompt.
  • Presence of objective evaluation of the evidence derived from the source texts, persuasive and stylistic elements that the source’s author employs in the text, the reasoning of the source’s author, and the significance of any other peculiar features of the source text.
  • Selection of appropriate, strong, and adequate evidence to support the examinee’s claims.
  • A narrow focus on the main features of the source text throughout the essay.

Moreover, the analytical aspects of the response should be obvious to readers.

4. Writing the SAT Essay

The writing dimension allows markers to assess the examinee’s capability to present his or her ideas by using the English language. In this case, the scoring rubric identifies eight primary marking points:

  • The extent of cohesiveness in the essay response.
  • The author’s ability to utilize language for clear and persuasive communications.
  • Adherence to the standard essay structure where the introduction, body, and conclusion are easily discernible.
  • The presence of a thesis statement that precisely announces the central claim of the essay response.
  • The text has a logical, systematic, and easy to follow progression with strong links between the paragraphs.
  • Compliance with the formal conventions of the English language
  • Minimal errors and complete absence of errors.
  • Creative use of language and sentence structures.

Maximum Performance

1. Practice Tests

The skills evaluated by using SAT essay prompts take a substantial amount of time to master, which makes consistent practice a useful strategy for increasing an individual score. In this case, students should allocate adequate time to familiarise themselves with the SAT essay. Moreover, there are many resources that a person may utilize in preparing for the SAT essay:

  1. The Official SAT Guide published by the College Board (hardcopy textbook).
  2. SAT essay content on the official College Board website.
  3. Institutional guides.

These resources provide adequate information to complete the SAT essay successfully. However, merely perusing through sources without writing a practice essay may hurt scores because the essay tests an individual’s ability to apply the content of manuals, which can prove challenging. Moreover, practicing aids the examinee to adapt to the time constraint of the test.

2. Rubric Comprehension

Mostly, students tend to overlook the explanations of the rubric, which places them at a disadvantage. Basically, the rubric is a ‘cheat sheet’ because it informs examinees of markers’ expectations for each of the skills. In this case, it enables test takers to craft a response that matches marking guidelines. Then, reading the rubric may not necessarily result in a deep understanding of the marking criteria. For example, the interaction with rated SAT essays may assist students to comprehend the enforcement of the scoring rubric. In turn, test takers can access real SAT essays and detailed explanations for the scoring published by College Board, which exemplifies the examiner’s scrutiny of a response by using the rubric. Hence, knowledge of the rubric and its use may elevate an individual’s SAT essay score because it raises their awareness concerning the marking points for each rating dimension.

3. Instructions

Students need to read through SAT essay prompts despite the standardized form of the essay prompt. Basically, the SAT essay assignment has a rigid structure, which implies that prompts follow a predefined structure with minor alterations to integrate the prompt with the source text. Nonetheless, reading the essay prompt clarifies the content of the response because it states the specific argument that must be the focus of the examinee’s essay. Also, the prompt reminds test takers that the SAT essay is not an argumentative essay, which is essential because markers do not rate off-topic essays. In turn, the relevance of the essay’s content to the prompt has a significant impact on student’s scores.

Review of a Past Sample of the SAT Essay Prompt

Sample SAT Essay Practice Prompt

As you read the passage below, consider how Paul Bogard uses

  • evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
  • reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
  • stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.

Adapted from Paul Bogard, “Let There Be Dark.” ©2012 by Los Angeles Times. Originally published December 21, 2012.

At my family’s cabin on a Minnesota lake, I knew woods so dark that my hands disappeared before my eyes. I knew night skies in which meteors left smoky trails across sugary spreads of stars. But now, when 8 of 10 children born in the United States will never know a sky dark enough for the Milky Way, I worry we are rapidly losing night’s natural darkness before realizing its worth. This winter solstice, as we cheer the days’ gradual movement back toward light, let us also remember the irreplaceable value of darkness.

All life evolved to the steady rhythm of bright days and dark nights. Today, though, when we feel the closeness of nightfall, we reach quickly for a light switch. And too little darkness, meaning too much artificial light at night, spells trouble for all.

Already the World Health Organization classifies working the night shift as a probable human carcinogen, and the American Medical Association has voiced its unanimous support for “light pollution reduction efforts and glare reduction efforts at both the national and state levels.” Our bodies need darkness to produce the hormone melatonin, which keeps certain cancers from developing, and our bodies need darkness for sleep. Sleep disorders have been linked to diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and depression, and recent research suggests one main cause of “short sleep” is “long light.” Whether we work at night or simply take our tablets, notebooks and smartphones to bed, there isn’t a place for this much artificial light in our lives.

The rest of the world depends on darkness as well, including nocturnal and crepuscular species of birds, insects, mammals, fish and reptiles. Some examples are well known—the 400 species of birds that migrate at night in North America, the sea turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs—and some are not, such as the bats that save American farmers billions in pest control and the moths that pollinate 80% of the world’s flora. Ecological light pollution is like the bulldozer of the night, wrecking habitat and disrupting ecosystems several billion years in the making. Simply put, without darkness, Earth’s ecology would collapse….

In today’s crowded, louder, more fast-paced world, night’s darkness can provide solitude, quiet and stillness, qualities increasingly in short supply. Every religious tradition has considered darkness invaluable for a soulful life, and the chance to witness the universe has inspired artists, philosophers and everyday stargazers since time began. In a world awash with electric light…how would Van Gogh have given the world his “Starry Night”? Who knows what this vision of the night sky might inspire in each of us, in our children or grandchildren?

Yet all over the world, our nights are growing brighter. In the United States and Western Europe, the amount of light in the sky increases an average of about 6% every year. Computer images of the United States at night, based on NASA photographs, show that what was a very dark country as recently as the 1950s is now nearly covered with a blanket of light. Much of this light is wasted energy, which means wasted dollars. Those of us over 35 are perhaps among the last generation to have known truly dark nights. Even the northern lake where I was lucky to spend my summers has seen its darkness diminish.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Light pollution is readily within our ability to solve, using new lighting technologies and shielding existing lights. Already, many cities and towns across North America and Europe are changing to LED streetlights, which offer dramatic possibilities for controlling wasted light. Other communities are finding success with simply turning off portions of their public lighting after midnight. Even Paris, the famed “city of light,” which already turns off its monument lighting after 1 a.m., will this summer start to require its shops, offices and public buildings to turn off lights after 2 a.m. Though primarily designed to save energy, such reductions in light will also go far in addressing light pollution. But we will never truly address the problem of light pollution until we become aware of the irreplaceable value and beauty of the darkness we are losing.

Write an essay in which you explain how Paul Bogard builds an argument to persuade his audience that natural darkness should be preserved. In your essay, analyze how Bogard uses one or more of the features in the directions that precede the passage (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of his argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage.

Your essay should not explain whether you agree with Bogard’s claims, but rather explain how Bogard builds an argument to persuade his audience.

Overview of the Task

The selected task consists of three main features: reading instructions, the source text, and the SAT question. Firstly, the reading instructions for this essay inform examinees of the nature of details that they should attempt to extract during the reading of the source text. Specifically, the reading instructions direct the attention of students to the following aspects of the source text: evidence, reasoning, and stylistic or persuasive elements. Then, the source text is the only reading that examinees use in responding to the essay question. In this example, the source text is an adaptation of “Let There Be Dark,” which is an opinion article written by Paul Bogard in 2012. In turn, the source text contains 696 words, which is a wordcount that requires approximately three minutes to read. Finally, the essay question appears after the source text.


In the essay question, examiners explicitly state the requirements of the written response. Basically, the examiner states the goal of the essay, which is to identify and describe the technique that Bogard employs in developing his argument for the preservation of natural darkness. Also, this strictly defined writing activity appears in the first sentence of the essay question paragraph. Then, additional descriptions that clarify the writing purpose appear in the next two sentences of the essay question. In this case, additional descriptions create a link between the reading directions issued before the source text and the essay’s content. Furthermore, the essay question offers some guidance for students when it points out that applicants should concentrate on the most relevant features of the source text and warns against the creation of an argumentative response.

Writing a Perfect Response

1. Creation of a Thesis Statement

The first step of the writing process is the development of a thesis statement. In this case, the thesis statement is a direct response to the essay question, which asks students to elucidate Bogard’s argument building strategy. Specifically, the main claim answers the ‘how’ question put forth in the essay prompt. Moreover, the thesis sentence states the central findings of writers after reading and analyzing the source text in the context of the considerations mentioned in the reading directions. In turn, a strong thesis statement would state the main elements of the source text that authors of the response paper intend to expound on in body paragraphs. As a result, based on the standard essay structure, students formulate a one-sentence thesis statement, which they place at the end of the introductory paragraph of the response.

2. Outline Сreation

The quality of the response is heavily dependent on the comprehensiveness of the essay outline. For example, students must create an outline before they begin to write the paper because it enables them to plan the work. Basically, the good outline contains the thesis statement, the minor claim for each body paragraph, evidence that supports each claim, and key points for the concluding paragraph. Also, the primary role of the outline is to separate the minor claims that expound on the thesis statement to prove its validity. In each paragraph, authors identify the main claim and note the textual evidence, and its significance to the minor claim, and the link to the next paragraph. Therefore, outlines enable authors to create a hierarchy for the presentation of minor claims, which depicts a balance between the essay’s cohesiveness and relevance of the individual minor claims.

3. Writing the Paper

The actual writing of the essay is quite challenging because of its variations from the typical writing practices. Basically, regular paper assignments allow students to write multiple drafts before submitting the final essay for grading. In this case, the SAT essay does not extend students this convenience of electronically typed assignments because the paper is handwritten within a fixed duration. Consequently, examinees must create an essay that is close to perfect in the first and only writing attempt. During the writing of the essay, authors select appropriate words that capture their ideas while adhering to the academic writing and English language conventions. In turn, students should adequately consider each sentence and its contribution to the paragraph and the essay before writing it to reduce the need for heavy editing. Besides, examinees should spend approximately 25 minutes in writing the essay.

4. Proofreading

The SAT essay undergoes the standard proofreading process that writers use for other forms of writing. The first round of proofreading should focus on the smoothening the flow of ideas and confirming that the essay meets the expectations outlined in the prompt. During this first session, the author critically examines the topic sentences, explanation of the evidence, and transition statements to improve the readability and value of these paragraph elements in realizing the goal of this form of essay. The second round of proofreading prioritizes the removal of grammar and spelling mistakes. The proofreading stage of the writing process should not include massive changes to the initial draft because of the time restrictions. Moreover, major last-minute changes may prove to have more adverse effects than beneficial impacts on the essay in its entirety. After proofreading, the essay should be flawless.


Evidence of the examinee’s reading skills is inherent in the writing. Basically, the marker pays attention to the ability of the author to distinguish between strong and weak features of Bogard’s article in the response. In particular, the college board committee will evaluate the use of direct quotations and paraphrases. Then, authors must minimize the use of long direct quotations because they are a sign that authors were unable to understand the text to allow for proper paraphrasing in their own words. Also, direct quotes that students incorporate in the paper should maintain their contextual meaning. In turn, the author’s capability to illustrate interrelationships between the evidence and Bogard’s argument correctly plays a significant role in the score that students receive for this dimension.

Analysis of SAT Essay Prompts

1. Conducting Analysis

Markers evaluate the author’s analytical skills through reviewing the author’s reasoning concerning the effects of various persuasive tools that Bogard employs in his argument. In “Let There Be Dark,” Bogard begins the article with a personal anecdote, which is a crucial tool in his persuasion strategy. Also, the mere identification of the personal anecdote as a persuasive tool does not earn the author any marks for this skill. Instead, an explanation concerning its effect on the reader is the content that the marker desires to observe. Hence, the extensiveness of the author’s analytical explanations affects the rating of the examinee that receives for the analytical dimension score.

2. Example

Based on the identification of Bogard’s anecdote, authors may argue that Bogard’s anecdote takes readers on an introspective journey where he challenges them to revisit or imagine a time when the sky was truly dark. Moreover, students may continue to explain that Bogard compares the reader’s image of the past to the present state of affairs to create and magnify the significance of the fading darkness. Therefore, applicants may conclude that the personal anecdote is a starting point that allows Bogard to convince the audience of the transition from a period of true darkness to the present state of minimal darkness, which is the foundation of Bogard’s argument. In this analytical example, writers show the value of Bogard’s anecdote to his persuasive strategy and note the effect of the persuasive element on the audience.

3. Writing Dimension

The writing dimension of the SAT essay follows rather rigid criteria, which makes its assessment to be straightforward. Mostly, an SAT follows the standard five-paragraph essay structure. Also, the SAT essay must have an introduction, at least two body paragraphs, and a conclusion. In this case, the college board committee expects a thesis statement at the end of the informative introduction. Besides, the body paragraphs should comply with paragraph structure guidelines, which implies that each body paragraph has a topic sentence, evidence from the source text, a detailed but concise evaluation of the evidence, and a transition statement that binds the one paragraph to the next. In turn, markers take an interest in the sentence structure variety and other mechanics of language in calculating the rating for the writing dimension of the SAT essay score.

Example-Based Explanations for Responding to an SAT Essay Prompt

Viable SAT Essay

As you read the passage below, consider how Paul Bogard uses

  • evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
  • reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
  • stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.

Adapted from Lawrence Kraus, “The Ideological Corruption of Science.” ©2020 by Wall Street Journal. Originally published July, 2020.

In the 1980s, when I was a young professor of physics and astronomy at Yale, deconstructionism was in vogue in the English Department. We in the science departments would scoff at the lack of objective intellectual standards in the humanities, epitomized by a movement that argued against the existence of objective truth itself, arguing that all such claims to knowledge were tainted by ideological biases due to race, sex or economic dominance.

It could never happen in the hard sciences, except perhaps under dictatorships, such as the Nazi condemnation of “Jewish” science, or the Stalinist campaign against genetics led by Trofim Lysenko, in which literally thousands of mainstream geneticists were dismissed in the effort to suppress any opposition to the prevailing political view of the state.

Or so we thought. In recent years, and especially since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, academic science leaders have adopted wholesale the language of dominance and oppression previously restricted to “cultural studies” journals to guide their disciplines, to censor dissenting views, to remove faculty from leadership positions if their research is claimed by opponents to support systemic oppression.

In June, the American Physical Society (APS), which represents 55,000 physicists world-wide, endorsed a “strike for black lives” to “shut down STEM” in academia. It closed its office—not to protest police violence or racism, but to “commit to eradicating systemic racism and discrimination, especially in academia, and science,” stating that “physics is not an exception” to the suffocating effects of racism in American life.

While racism in our society is real, no data were given to support this claim of systemic racism in science, and I have argued elsewhere that there are strong reasons to think that this claim is spurious. The APS wasn’t alone. National laboratories and university science departments joined the one-day strike. The pre-eminent science journal Nature, which disseminates what it views as the most important science stories in a daily newsletter, featured an article titled “Ten simple rules for building an anti-racist lab.”

At Michigan State University, one group used the strike to organize and coordinate a protest campaign against the vice president for research, physicist Stephen Hsu, whose crimes included doing research on computational genomics to study how human genetics might be related to cognitive ability—something that to the protesters smacked of eugenics. He was also accused of supporting psychology research at MSU on the statistics of police shootings that didn’t clearly support claims of racial bias. Within a week, the university president forced Mr. Hsu to resign.

At Princeton on July 4, more than 100 faculty members, including more than 40 in the sciences and engineering, wrote an open letter to the president with proposals to “disrupt the institutional hierarchies perpetuating inequity and harm.” This included the creation of a policing committee that would “oversee the investigation and discipline of racist behaviors, incidents, research, and publication on the part of faculty,” with “racism” to be defined by another faculty committee, and requiring every department, including math, physics, astronomy and other sciences, to establish a senior thesis prize for research that somehow “is actively anti-racist or expands our sense of how race is constructed in our society.”

When scientific and academic leaders give official imprimatur to unverified claims, or issue blanket condemnations of peer-reviewed research or whole fields that may be unpopular, it has ripple effects throughout the field. It can shut down discussion and result in self-censorship.

Shortly after Mr. Hsu resigned, the authors of the psychology study asked the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science to retract their paper—not because of flaws in their statistical analysis, but because of what they called the “misuse” of their article by journalists who argued that it countered the prevailing view that police forces are racist. They later amended the retraction request to claim, conveniently, that it “had nothing to do with political considerations, ‘mob’ pressure, threats to the authors, or distaste for the political views of people citing the work approvingly.” As a cosmologist, I can say that if we retracted all the papers in cosmology that we felt were misrepresented by journalists, there would hardly be any papers left.

Actual censorship is also occurring. A distinguished chemist in Canada argued in favor of merit-based science and against hiring practices that aim at equality of outcome if they result “in discrimination against the most meritorious candidates.” For that he was censured by his university provost, his published review article on research and education in organic synthesis was removed from the journal website, and two editors involved in accepting it were suspended.

An Italian scientist at the international laboratory CERN, home to the Large Hadron Collider, had his scheduled seminar on statistical imbalances between the sexes in physics canceled and his position at the laboratory revoked because he suggested that apparent inequities might not be directly due to sexism. A group of linguistics students initiated a public petition asking that the psychologist Steven Pinker be stripped of his position as a Linguistics Society of America Fellow for such offenses as tweeting a New York Times article they disapproved of.

As ideological encroachment corrupts scientific institutions, one might wonder why more scientists aren’t defending the hard sciences from this intrusion. The answer is that many academics are afraid, and for good reason. They are hesitant to disagree with scientific leadership groups, and they see what has happened to scientists who do. They see how researchers lose funding if they can’t justify how their research programs will explicitly combat claimed systemic racism or sexism, a requirement for scientific proposals now being applied by granting agencies.

Whenever science has been corrupted by falling prey to ideology, scientific progress suffers. This was the case in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union—and in the U.S. in the 19th century when racist views dominated biology, and during the McCarthy era, when prominent scientists like Robert Oppenheimer were ostracized for their political views. To stem the slide, scientific leaders, scientific societies and senior academic administrators must publicly stand up not only for free speech in science, but for quality, independent of political doctrine and divorced from the demands of political factions.

Write an essay in which you explain how Lawrence Krauss builds an argument to persuade his audience that ideological biases are crippling scientific institutions. In your essay, analyze how Krauss uses one or more of the features in the directions that precede the passage (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of his argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage.

Your essay should not explain whether you agree with Krauss’s claims, but rather explain how Krauss builds an argument to persuade his audience.

Descriptive Outline

I. Introduction


  • Recent events on systemic oppression
  • The manifestation of systemic oppression in the education sector

Thesis statement: Krauss uses logical appeals, cause and effect rhetorical strategy, and a personal anecdote to build a persuasive argument.

Example paragraph of the SAT introduction:

In “The Ideological Corruption of Science,” Lawrence Krauss reflects on the proliferation of extremist ideologies in education systems. Basically, this re-evaluation of the systemic oppression reveals that ideological biases have corrupted scientific institutions. In turn, Krauss uses logical appeals, cause and effect rhetorical strategy, and a personal anecdote to build a persuasive argument.

Analysis of example paragraph:

This paragraph informs readers concerning the author’s name and title of the article. Also, it provides a summary of the source text’s primary argument. Then, the thesis statement notifies readers about the content of the remainder of the essay. At the end of the introductory paragraph, readers have a good idea of the content of Krauss’s article and the response essay.

II. Body

A. First Body Paragraph:

Minor claim: The use of logic as a persuasive element.

Evidence supporting the minor claim:

  • The forced resignation of physicist Stephen Hsu from Michigan State University

Example of the 1st paragraph:

The most dominant aspect of Krauss’s persuasive strategy emerges from the use of logical appeals. In this case, Krauss’s text contains numerous examples of the detailed accounts of systemic oppression. Particularly, Krauss describes the forced resignation of Stephen Hsu, who committed the “crime” of conducting studies on human genetics that his peers considered to be symbolic of the rise of eugenics. Then, Krauss outlines the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Hsu from Michigan State University, but he intentionally fails to state whether it is a just or unjust dismissal. Also, Krauss does not state whether the allegations leading to the dismissal are rationally sound and objective. In turn, this omission of his opinion is the embodiment of a logical appeal where he provides the audience with adequate situational information for them to develop their own opinion in the context of his proposed line of thought. Hence, Krauss utilizes this persuasive technique in the narration of the incident at Princeton and international laboratory CERN.

Analysis of example paragraph:

The topic sentence of this paragraph announces that logical appeal is the persuasive element of interest. Basically, the author provides an accurate paraphrase of Hsu’s experience. After the evidence, the writer notes that the Krauss chooses to withhold his personal opinion while presenting this scenario. Moreover, the author identifies the effect that the omission of Krauss’s opinion on the readers’ ability to make independent judgments based on the evidence at hand. In this paragraph, the person illustrates Krauss’s use of logical appeals in his text.

B. Second Body Paragraph:

Minor Claim: Krauss’s heavy reliance on the cause and effect as a rhetorical strategy.

Evidence supporting the minor claim:

  • The ripple effect of Hsu’s resignation on publication.
  • Reason for the scientists’ reluctance to defend the ideological independence in educational institutions.

Example of the 2nd paragraph:

Krauss employs the cause and effect rhetorical approach in convincing the audience that a single decision founded on wrong principles has a ripple effect throughout the system. Basically, the dismissal of Hsu triggers the submission of a retraction request for the study that found police shooting statistics to be weak evidence of racial bias in policing. Before revising the retraction claim, the publishers of the study stated that the request for retraction was a consequence of the “misuse” of the article in media as evidence that policing is not racist. Moreover, Krauss demonstrates that the compelled resignation of Hsu placed “pressure” on the researchers to retract their findings to protect themselves from the “wrath” of the system. In turn, this example makes the significance of the readers’ decision regarding the correctness of Hsu’s dismissal obvious. Besides, it shows the audience that the dynamics of systemic oppression where one decision creates a precedent for similar judgments of relatively identical cases.

Analysis of example paragraph:

This paragraph shifts the markers’ attention to a strategically designed cause and effect scenario. Specifically, the author uses the cause and effect scenario to addresses the counterargument that a single decision cannot have a widespread impact on all scientific institutions. Also, the writer notes that there is a strong association between primary and secondary effects of ideological biases in scientific institutions. In turn, the cause-effect rhetorical strategy fortifies Krauss’s argument for systemic oppression.

C. Third Body Paragraph

Minor Claim: Krauss employs a personal anecdote as a persuasive element.

Evidence supporting the minor claim:

  • The anecdote at in the opening paragraph.

Example of the 3rd paragraph:

The personal anecdote that plays the role of the hook for the article elevates the persuasive nature of Krauss’s argument. At the beginning of the text, Krauss notes his personal experience as a physics professor led him to believe that science institutions were not susceptible to the “deconstructionism,” which plagued the English Department. In this case, the anecdote provides the audience with the basis of comparison, which increases the clarity of the Krauss’s hypothesized systemic change. Furthermore, the Krauss anecdote elevates the value of his proposition because it establishes that he worked in the scientific institutions, which implies that he speaks from personal experience. As a result, the audience may consider his argument to have more weight as opposed to the opinion of a freelance journalist.

Analysis of example paragraph:

In this paragraph, the author discusses the use of personal anecdotes. Basically, the writer argues that the anecdote creates an ideal “before” situation, which facilitates the comparison between the previous and current science institutions. Also, the author acknowledges that the anecdote informs the reader of the author’s history as a professor. In consequence, readers may be easily swayed by Krauss’s argument because he worked and probably works in the system.

III. Conclusion

Closing points:

  • The author defends his position well.
  • Effectiveness of the persuasive strategy.

Example paragraph of the SAT conclusion:

Krauss’s designs a complex persuasive strategy to advance his arguments to the audience. In this case, Krauss’s article addresses a controversial issue but manages to provide a reasonable argument, which both supporters and opposers of his position can tolerate. As a result, this effect is evidence of the efficacy of Krauss’s persuasion strategy.

Response Patterns

The response to any SAT essay follows some common patterns. Basically, all SAT essays begin with an introductory paragraph, which ends with a thesis statement. In most cases, the thesis sentence identifies the particular persuasive element that the author discusses in the body of the paper. Then, body paragraphs tend to follow some form of hierarchy that students establish upon a critical reading of the source text. Also, each body paragraph contains at least one instance of textual evidence. In turn, writers ensure that there is a minimum of two body paragraphs, which discuss unique minor claims. Finally, the concluding paragraph of the SAT paper is not a recap of the major points. Instead, the concluding paragraph offers closing statements that affirm the importance of a carefully thought-out persuasive strategy.

Learning From the Review of the Practice SAT Essay

The overview of the practice essay provides much insight that is useful in responding to sample SAT essay prompts. The practice essay familiarises the examinee with the structure of the essay prompt and the expectations of the examiner. Prior exposure to the structure of the essay prompt reduces the likelihood of incorrect interpretation. The previous example made the expectations of the marker apparent because it explains the core features that graders typically look for during the rating process. This information is useful because it enables the author to develop a mind-set identical to the markers, which aids in suitable content generation. Equally important, the review outlines some of the common mistakes, which an author strives to avoid while responding to the SAT essay prompt, for instance, overreliance on direct quotes for expression.

Characteristics of Other SAT Essay Prompts

Based on the analysis of the two SAT essays, it is apparent that SAT essay prompts have some similarities. Basically, the set of reading instructions that precede the source text for any paper is identical for all SAT essay prompts. In this case, the paragraph containing the essay question utilizes a template. Moreover, the author’s name and argument are the features of the template that the examiner changes to adapt the essay question to the source text. Then, source texts are argumentative, but they have varying lengths. In turn, the examiner maintains the source text’s length to ensure that the reading time for a person with average reading skills does not exceed five minutes. Hence, these shared characteristics make it possible for an individual to speculate the content of any SAT essay prompt.

General Preparation Strategy for SAT Essay Prompts

1. SAT Essay Structure

The essay structure is a fundamental concept in academic writing. In the SAT essay, examiners test the students’ knowledge of the essay structure passively by asking applicants to respond to an academic question in an extended prose writing format. In consequence, students must study the basics of academic writing, especially the paper structure and complementary paragraph structure. Basically, the mastery of the basic concepts that define academic writing is mandatory because the rating of all the three skills depends on the paper. In turn, it implies that poor writing skills may have a substantial indirect adverse impact on the ratings of the reading and analysis dimensions of the SAT scores.

2. Argument Creation

The development of arguments is a common task in scholarly writing. For example, examiners select a text that has the traits of an argumentative essay to be the source, which examinees employ in responding to SAT essay prompts. Basically, knowledge concerning argumentative essays is a pre-condition for the successful deconstruction of the source text of an SAT essay. Accordingly, test takers must have a deep comprehension of the rhetorical strategies that authors utilize in argument creation. In turn, if examinees do not understand the principles of argument formation, it may be difficult for them to break down an argumentative text and describe the link that exists between textual evidence, persuasive elements, and the audience’s reactions.

Takeaway on SAT Essay Prompts

  • Reading the prompt is not an optional activity despite the standardized SAT essay prompt structure.
  • During the critical reading, test takers should identify viable evidence that they may incorporate in the response.
  • The SAT essay requires an analysis of the persuasive strategy that the author of the text employs in articulating his or her argument.
  • The five-paragraph essay structure and conventional paragraph structure guide the examinees in the written presentation of their response.
  • Prior knowledge of academic writing practices and argument formation is necessary for the successful completion of the SAT essay.

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