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Posted by Laura Staffaroni Jun 13, 7: Overview SAT essay prompts always keep to the same basic format. As you read the passage below, consider how [the author] uses evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims. Follow us on all 3 of our social networks: Ask a Question Below Have any questions about this article or other topics? Ask below and we'll reply! Search the Blog Search. Customize your test prep for maximum results.
Want General Expert Advice? Our hand-selected experts help you in a variety of other topics! Looking for Graduate School Test Prep? Check out our top-rated graduate blogs here: People tend to put more faith in experiences if they can personally connect with the experiences even though that doesn't actually affect how likely or not a statement is to be true.
In the example above, rather than discussing the statistics that support the creation of wildlife refuges, Jimmy Carter instead uses an anecdote about experiencing the wonder of nature to illustrate the same point—probably more effectively.
By inviting the reader to experience vicariously the majesty of witnessing the migration of the Porcupine caribou, Carter activates the reader's empathy towards wildlife preservation and so makes it more likely that the reader will agree with him that wildlife refuges are important. Sometimes, though, the support for a claim on its own might not seem that persuasive—in those cases, an author might then choose to use reasoning to explain how the evidence presented actually builds the argument.
One way in which an author might use reasoning to persuade the reader to accept the claim being put forward is to discuss a counterargument, or counterclaim, to the author's main point. The discussion and subsequent neutralization of counterarguments is found in prompts across all subject areas. A counterargument or counterclaim is simply another point of view that contradicts either fully or partially the author's own argument.
When "some might claim," "however," or other contrast words and phrases show up in an essay prompt, the author is likely presenting a counterclaim. Waldorf kids knit and build things and paint—a lot of really practical and creative endeavors.
While there are dangers inherent in access to Facebook, new research suggests that social-networking sites also offer unprecedented learning opportunities. So how does bringing up an opposing point of view help an author build her argument?
It may seem counterintuitive that discussing a counterargument actually strengthens the main argument. And because the presence of a counterargument demonstrates that the author knows the topic well enough to be able to see the issue from multiple sides, the reader's more likely to trust that the author's claims are well-thought out and worth believing.
In the case of the Dockterman article, the author not only mentions the opposite point of view but also takes the time to get a quote from someone who supports the opposing viewpoint. This even-handedness makes her following claim that "it's not that simple" more believable, since she doesn't appear to be presenting a one-sided argument.
In some cases, the clarity with which the author links her evidence and her claims is integral to the author's argument. Reasoning is the connective tissue that holds an argument together. Explanation of evidence is one of the trickier argument-building techniques to discuss at least in my opinion , because while it is present in many essay prompts, it isn't always a major persuasive feature.
You can pretty easily identify an author's explanation of evidence if the author connects a claim to support and explains it , rather than just throwing out evidence without much ceremony or linking to the claim; however, whether or not the explanation of the evidence is a major contributing factor to the author's argument is somewhat subjective.
Here's a pretty clear instance of a case where an author uses explanations of each piece of evidence she discusses to logically advance her argument again from the Dockterman passage:. Unfortunately, the explanation the Official SAT Study Guide gives for how to discuss an author's "reasoning" is a little vague:. You may decide to discuss how the author uses or fails to use clear, logical reasoning to draw a connection between a claim and the evidence supporting that claim.
But how exactly you should go about doing this? And wh y is it persuasive to clearly explain the link between evidence and claim? In the Dockterman example above, the author clearly lays out data Civilization leads to improvements in history class , a claim this is because of engagement with the game and thus the subject material , provides data that back up that claim retention rate skyrockets when students do things for themselves , and links that smaller claim to a larger concept actively browsing pages on a computer or tablet is way more brain-stimulating than vegging out in front of the TV.
This clear pattern of data-explanation-more data-more explanation enables the reader to follow along with Dockterman's points. It's more persuasive because, rather than just being told " Civilization leads to improvements in history" and having to take it on faith, the reader is forced to reenact the thinking processes that led to the argument, engaging with the topic on a deeper level.
This final category of examples is the top layer of argument building. The foundation of a good argument is evidence, which is often explained and elucidated by reasoning, but it is often the addition of stylistic or persuasive elements like an ironic tone or a rhetorical flourish that seals the deal.
Vivid language is truly the icing on the persuasive cake. As with explanations of evidence, vivid language can be found across all topics of essay prompts although it usually plays a larger role when the passage is lacking in more convincing facts or logic. Here are a couple of examples—the first is Paul Bogard again:. This example is relatively restrained, using the metaphor of "a blanket of light" to add emphasis to Bogard's discussion of light pollution.
Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. If used in moderation, vivid language will also make the topic more interesting for the reader to read, thus engaging them further.
In the excerpt taken from Martin Luther King Jr. If King had left out the second part of the sentence and only said, "Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money," his point would not have had as big of an impact. The last category I'll be discussing in this article are direct addresses and appeals to the reader. These stylistic elements are found across all sorts of different passage topics, although as with the previous category, these elements usually play a larger role when the passage is light on facts or logic.
Direct addresses and appeals to the reader are wordings or other stylistic devices specifically designed to provoke a response often emotional in the reader. This category covers many different elements, from appeals to emotion to rhetorical questions. Here's an example of an appeal to emotion, taken again from Martin Luther King, Jr. Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home.
It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. Who knows what this vision of the night sky might inspire in each of us, in our children or grandchildren?
Appealing to the emotions , as Martin Luther King, Jr. By describing how the war was causing "their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and die," King reminds the reader of the terrible costs of war, playing upon their emotions to get them to agree that the Vietnam War is a mistake, particularly for the poor. Rhetorical questions , on the other hand, get the readers to step into the author's world.
By reading and thinking about the author's question, the reader engages with the topic on a deeper level than if the reader were just given a statement of what the author thinks. This is because the examples themselves are so meaningful and complex that they can be used to discuss a lot of issues.
The main point is, you don't have to wait until you see the prompt to develop an arsenal of types of argument-building techniques you can use to support your points. If you're reading this article, you probably want to excel on the SAT essay.
Explore new SAT essay prompts and examples representative of what students will encounter on test day and illustrating the changes being made to the SAT Essay. Skip to main content. SAT Suite of Assessments Sample Questions. Sample Practice using sample essay 1.
Special note: The prompt for Practice Test 4 also appears on the College Board’s site, along with real sample essays written in response. If you’ve written a practice essay for practice test 4 and want to see what essays of different score levels look like for that particular prompt, you can go there and look at eight real student essays.
Our essay topics have been closely modeled on those in the SAT. You can also do the essays given in the first section of each of the tests in the Official Study Guide. Each of the topics consists of a prompt and an assignment. However, the essay lacks a progression of ideas within paragraphs; instead, ideas are disconnected from one another, so although the essay has the appearance of being ordered into logical paragraphs, the actual content of those paragraphs does not demonstrate cohesion (In Bogard’s essay he provides information about technologies that are determining different light fixtures. Comparing how cities and .
The SAT Essay is no longer a simple read and respond kind of a prompt where the tester forms his or her own opinion on a topic and supports it with facts and examples. The Redesigned SAT essay prompts require the tester to read a persuasive text, and . Redesigned SAT essay prompts ask students to read and analyze a provided passage that is about the same length as one of the SAT Reading test passages. To help you out, we’ve added links to those readings below the related prompts so that you can use these prompts to write practice essays.