How is the SAT Essay Structured?
The SAT essay is 50 minutes long. The score is separate and does not affect your 1600 point total. It’s graded on a 24-point system, with 8 points awarded in categories for Reading, Analysis and Writing. Your task is to analyze how an author builds his or her argument in a passage. You do not need to argue your own opinion on an issue. Essentially the same prompt is used every time:
As you read the passage below, consider how [the author] 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.
Write an essay in which you explain how [the author] builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience of that [author’s claim]. In your essay, analyze how [the author] uses one or more of the features listed above (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of [his/her] argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage. Your essay should not explain whether you agree with [the author’s] claims, but rather explain how the author builds an argument to persuade [his/her] audience. (College Board)
The prompt will always be the same, but the passages provided for the exam will come from a variety of sources. However, they will have some common features! They will be passages taken from published works written for a general audience, which use persuasive language to argue a position. They will use reasoning, evidence and rhetorical strategies to support their claims, which will relate to ideas and debates in the arts, sciences, culture, history or political life. The passages used for the essay will contain all of the information you need to write your response.